Is diet culture America’s modern religion? January is here and it seems practically impossible to get through the month without running into a barrage of diet culture dribble. Ads for weight loss teas, diet books, and “skinny” gummies. Keto this, low-carb that. Adele’s famous weight loss. Rebel Wilson’s diet and exercise “secrets.” Lizzo’s “detoxing” smoothie cleanse.
It’s just… a lot, you know? Eating disorders are some of the most deadly mental illnesses and according to ANAD, they are second only to opioid overdose. I’d argue that we don’t take them as seriously as we should, and worst of all, we don’t take society’s role in promoting eating disorders seriously whatsoever. Experts estimate that nearly 30 million Americans have an eating disorder, but I suspect there’s many, many more.
I daresay most of us have some bit of dysfunction when it comes to eating, exercise, and body image.
Diet culture is so deeply ingrained in our everyday life that few physicians even question fad diets or harebrained weight loss schemes. “The thinner the better” is still so widely believed despite our efforts to push the body positivity movement forward.
Something I have noticed since first embarking upon my food freedom journey — there’s a remarkable amount of pushback when anyone calls out diet culture. Warnings to quit glorifying obesity or to be healthy quickly follow. Like it’s such a cut and dry thing. There’s so much pushback, that I’ve begun to think diet culture is more of a religion than anything else. It seems painful for us to admit that our so-called healthy habits may not be so good for us after all.
More of us are impacted by diet culture than we’d like to admit. Entire lives are lived out in worship of dieting — often without realizing it. I’m not expecting you to agree with me. Though I do hope you’ll think it over. At least consider it, anyway.
In case you’re curious, here’s one helpful “litmus test” to help you figure out if something is truly healthy, or just another branch of diet culture.