How Diet Culture Has Damaged Mental Health

Diet Culture Doesn't Just Steal Our Money, It Steals Our Happiness Too

If diets worked, why would so many people feel like they are failing?


One of my favorite books to support individual intuition and holistic living is written by a woman named Anita Johnson and titled "Eating in the Light of the Moon."

One of the most powerful and resonating quotes for me in this book reads, "Once again the society she lived in supported her contention that she was indeed inadequate because she lacked the willpower she needed to control her body." And this is incredibly well said.

Somewhere along the road, willpower became a measurement of self-esteem. It began to tell people they were good or bad, strong or weak, capable of great things, or failing altogether. It completely supported black-and-white thinking while contributing to some of the most basic marketing tactics.

Eating, of all things, has become one of the most common ways to address these feelings of inadequacy.

The more self-conscious women and people in general become, the more we use outside mechanisms to address the issue. The more skinny people we see on TV, the more we hate ourselves. The more we feel out of control, the more we obsess over daily routines like exercise rituals and food intake. We begin to look for things that make us feel safe, accepted, worthy.

And while all this behavior grows, we fail to look outwards. We fail to contemplate if this is really about us or if it's a way to convince us we need something that we do not.

If thin models and the latest diet wasn't trending, how many people would lose their jobs?

If diets worked, why would so many people feel like they are failing?

If eating "clean" is so "good" for you, why is Orthorexia a newly coined term?

If food rules and moral labeling is part of a healthy lifestyle, why have eating disorders been on the rise?

As superfoods, weight loss products, and fad health trends crowd the shelves, we become slaves to believing that other people know our bodies better than we do. We ignore OUR own body in pursuit of achieving someone else's. We STOP asking ourselves questions and START assuming that the nutrition facts will lead the way. We forget natural hunger and ignore intuition, pretend that we need less, always starving for more.

Literally and figuratively, diet culture is depriving us. Not just of nutrients, but of life and love and mindfulness. Through portraying that these tactics are necessary to lead a healthy life, consumers become more susceptible to relying on outside sources, like the media and influencers, to dictate how they live their life. And, by supporting it, we only perpetuate the vicious cycle, conforming to the idea that they tell and we listen, trusting marketing over inner knowledge, and each time distancing our minds from our bodies further.

What if we began to consider that the outside world really didn't have our best interest at heart?

What if we gave ourselves the chance to trust and grow in our own intuition?

A pure marvel of human creation, intended to nourish, protect, and survive. We could finally understand that we have every ability to teach ourselves, learn, and be an individual.

With time it would make sense that no natural body is 6 foot tall and 120 pounds, that when one restricts for days it only makes sense to get ravenously hungry, and that people lie to make money, normalized things would begin to seem obscure. Society as we know it could change forever, shifting blame to those who deserve it.

You know, the ones who said willpower was the answer, restriction was the answer, skinny was the answer. The people that pull you away from the hope of understanding a body in its unique form. Instead of believing we are the problem when each new trend ends in failure, you could decide that it is the world we live in, telling us one thing when it is really another is what causes the problems in the first place.

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