Diet culture refers to the expectations we value and place on ourselves to look a certain way. This damages our mental and physical health because everything is framed around how we look or what we eat. Reinforcing negative views about our bodies creates a mindset that can tear us down. In everyday conversations, we can actively make small changes to combat the problem. Below are five things we should stop saying when describing eating habits or body image.
“Cheat day” or “guilt-free”
Eating food is never something to feel guilty about. Even though there are foods that aren’t as nutrient-rich as others, a healthy, manageable balance is important when choosing what we eat. The purpose of food is to nourish our bodies and to balance what we’re consuming.
“I’ve been eating so badly today”
Saying we’ve “eaten badly” frames how we feel about eating and food in a negative way. Moreover, saying this in front of someone else can cause them to feel shame, even if that’s not your intention. It’s important to be careful with word choices when making comments to yourself or around others.
“Summer,” “beach,” or “bikini” body
When the weather warms up and the sun is scorching, people tend to feel pressure about how their body looks in a swimsuit. Our bodies are worth feeling good about and deserve to be confidently shown. Diet culture and our idea of a “bikini body” is not inclusive to representing all body sizes.
“Are you really going to eat that?”
Judging what other people eat is not okay. The person you’re judging may become extremely focused on their eating habits and appearance, leading to risky eating behavior. Additionally, you may not know if someone is currently struggling with an eating disorder and making hurtful comments may damage their recovery journey.
“I want/need to lose weight”
These types of comments place an image in our minds that losing weight is ideal, even if we already live a healthy lifestyle. No two people are the same, and we deserve to feel confident in our bodies.
It can be hard to disassociate with diet culture and the comments that stem from it. Continuing to use these phrases in your everyday life isn’t constructive, so be thoughtful the next time you start to critique yourself or others. Is what you’re saying helpful and truthful, or is it just diet culture?