I quit diet culture

  • Posted on: 11 August 2020
  • By: jessica

I quit diet culture. Ok, let's go back a little bit. I thought I had quit diet culture years ago. I thought I was practicing intuitive eating. But, wellness culture had simply become a not-so-different replacement. 

Ok, wait, wait, wait. Let's go allll the way back! I've suffered with migraines and anxiety for my entire life. I remember being a small child and visiting doctor after doctor trying to get my headaches to go away. Tried medication after medication- but, nothing cured my headaches. So, when I stumbled upon a "mockumentary" (that I thought was a real documentary) that claimed eating a certain way could cure headaches, anxiety and even cancer... you bet I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. 

I read every piece of literature I could get my hands on that supported the concept of "food as medicine" and because I had a good job at the time, I could afford to start buying only organic foods that fit into the category of clean. Next came the superfoods. "Ok, well the clean eating and superfods haven't fix my headaches or anxiet yet, maybe I need to add supplements!". 

"clean eating", superfoods, and supplements. I was spending so much time and money on these items. Why wasn't I feeling better? I must be doing something wrong. All these folks in these books and mockumentaries say I should be feeling better by now. It must be my fault. 

Then the cyle of guilt and shame started. If I deviated from this ideal lifestyle for even a second, I was so hard on myself. "This is why you don't feel better. You have to be 100% committed!". Guilt and shame became my constant companions as I traveled into this dark, elitist place of restricting every single item that went into my body. 

I didn't only cling to this pseudoscience personally, but I started preaching it to my Instagram community. "Drink this tea to prevent alzheimer's! Add this herb to your tea to prevent pain! Soothe anxiety with this specific super food!". It became part of my brand, part of my identity. Friends and family would joke with me about it, but then I would sternly let them know it was very serious and share my zeal for this lifestyle. 

Then I heard the word "orthorexia" for the first time. "Orthorexia, or orthorexia nervosa, is an eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Unlike other eating disorders, orthorexia mostly revolves around food quality, not quantity." Holy crap. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Y'all, I was wrong. I was so wrong. Even in typing this out, I see how clear it is that I was engaging in diet culture masquerading as wellness. And it saddens me to think of the time, money, and energy I wasted. And it saddens me even more to think of the people I influenced to follow in my footsteps. 

I made a commitment to start taking advice from educated experts. The days of using Pinterest as my own, personal medical advice tool were behind me. I started listening to doctors, dietitians, anti-diet food therapists. And slowly, I started to find my way out of the deep, dark hole of pseudoscience I'd dug myself into over the years. 

I'm still learning- or unlearning, I guess. And I probably will be for the rest of my life. 

But, as of today, right now, I want to make some firm statments as to what my beliefs are. 

  • I believe food has no moral value and all foods fit into a well rounded diet
  • I believe body size is not an indicator of health
  • I believe in the JOY of cooking WITHOUT RESTRICTION
  • I believe food is comfort
  • I believe ALL people have the right to access fresh fruits & veggies
  • I believe food deserts are real and need to be fixed

I also believe that the word wellness should be taken back by those who practice & teach life & stress management apart from diet culture. Yoga teachers, dietitians, doctors, meditation specialists, etc. These folks make a positive difference in this world, and I would love to see them own that word again. 

Here's some resources for further learning: 

Dr Joshua Wolrich

Food Science Babe

Dr Colleen Reichmann

Meg Boggs


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