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How to Resist Toxic Diet Culture

Shreya Maji

5 min read

Diet culture prioritises thinness over well-being, which can be dangerous to both our physical and mental health. Here’s how you can reject it.

In July of this year, social media app Pinterest banned weight-loss ads from its platform. According to a statement released by the head of policy, it was for their users’ “emotional and mental health and well-being, especially those directly impacted by eating disorders or diet culture or body shaming.” Although a relatively small step in a world saturated with the fixation on bodies and weight, it is still a start in recognising the harm that diet culture perpetuates, and the big role social media plays in it.

What is Diet Culture?

Diet culture is the concept that equates health with thinness, and preaches that thinness must be achieved at any cost. It involves the preoccupation with physical appearance coupled with adhering to some definite eating standards. This concept is instilled in us through social media, advertising, marketing and the wellness industry. Diet culture is harmful because it propagates the existence of an “ideal” body that is considered healthy or beautiful. In reality our body size largely depends on genetics and social determinants of health, like age, employment and food security.

Toxic diet culture is hard to identify because it often comes hand-in-hand with suggestions for eating nourishing foods or taking care of your physical health. But it can quickly become an all-consuming lifestyle where you obsessively discuss calorie intakes and exercise goals, causing harm to your physical and mental health. In order to resist diet culture, it is necessary to understand the ways in which you take part in it.

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