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7 Reasons To Ditch Diet Culture (And 3 Things To Do Instead)

Have you been on a diet recently and was it a success? Or are you beginning to realize that the diet culture over-promises and under-delivers, with most people ending up heavier than when they started?

Some people, especially women, spend their whole lives obsessing about their weight and believing that there’s an ideal body shape. That “thin bodies” are good and “fat bodies” for some inexplicable reason are bad.

Diet culture often has nothing to do with health and often fast weight-loss products are downright dangerous. So we say, ditch the diet, adopt the anti-diet culture, and learn how to stay healthy without counting calories or following restrictive diets.

ditch the diet

The Dangers Of Diet Culture

1. Diets Don’t Deal With Emotions

If you’re like me, food is a comfort blanket. I’m at my happiest sitting on the couch with a big plate of my favorite food. Being on a diet takes away this support and unless there’s an alternative way to deal with emotions diets always fail.

Keeping (an honest) food journal can help identify triggers. If you can reduce stress or avoid difficult situations it can be easier to keep your food intake at a healthy level. Facing up to what we eat and why is the starting point for a better relationship with food.

2. Dieting Doesn’t Lead To Long-Term Weight Loss (For Most People)

Diets don’t work because they can be so hard to stick to. Often they have a very strict set of rules and I have yet to find a diet that doesn’t leave you feeling hungry. All the diets I’ve tried over the years start out well in the first week or two and then the weight loss slows as my body adapts to eating less food.

What’s worse is when you do lose the weight and enter the “weight maintenance” phase. This is when you realize you’ll have to keep worrying about what you eat and follow a restrictive diet forever if you want to maintain your weight loss.

Anti Diet Culture
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3. Binge Eating

Dieting feeds into the “food as reward” mindset. You try to diet and lose weight, then reward yourself by eating. Just join any diet forum and you’ll find the main topic of conversation is what people are going to eat as a reward when they reach their goal weight.

Start a diet and I’ll guarantee you spend most of the day thinking about food.

4. Dieting Can Make You Feel Like A Failure

Most diets fail and when they fail it’s easy to be really negative about it. It adds to the baggage we have around food, the idea that you’re a failure. Often normal weight for women is a lot higher than you think.

Knowing that if you diet you will fail, can make people think “I might as well just eat anything”. Yet another reason why diets don’t work!

5. Dieting Risks Developing An Eating Disorder

When you’re on a diet you can become obsessed with food in a way that affects your mental health. Dieting is a risk factor for developing eating disorders and it can be difficult to return to normal eating habits.

6. Weight Stigma

Sadly we’re surrounded by false body images. Half-starved, stick-thin models or retouched images. These images do not represent real life and real women. We come in all different shapes and sizes.

Losing weight won’t give you a perfect body. These perfect bodies are rarely real. Diets reinforce the stigma of weight and add shed loads of emotional baggage to a person’s perception of how they should look.

7. Diets Don’t Help You Love Your Body Right Now

Self-love is the most important part of the weight loss journey. If you don’t love yourself and care about your body, you’ll keep filling it full of junk.

Diets can often be seen as a form of punishment, forcing yourself to conform to other people’s opinions of how you should look.

ditch the diets

How To Ditch The Diet Culture

Instead of dieting, try these 3 steps to ditch the diet culture:

1. Find An Exercise Session You Enjoy

Moving more is key to living a pain-free life as you age. That doesn’t mean you have to become a runner or even take up walking. There are so many different ways to exercise.

Think about what you enjoyed doing as a child. It could be something like dancing, gardening, going swimming, or riding a bike. If you’re struggling to find the right exercise session – keep on trying. There is something for everyone.

2. Make One Small Change To Your Diet

The problem with diets is they impose rules and restrictions and quickly become unachievable. Instead may one small sustainable change to your eating habits.

It could be as simple as swapping your high-sugar drinks and diet drinks for water. You may think you don’t like the taste but give it a try. You’ll find it’s so much more refreshing and better at quenching your thirst.

3. Start Living

Don’t hide away. Start saying yes to life. Get out with friends, take up new activities, (sporty ones are good but any activity can help), or rediscover pastimes you used to love.

Taking the focus off food will be a big step towards having a better relationship with eating. Find something non-food-related to fill your time and start enjoying life.

I hope you’re convinced by these reasons why diets don’t work. My weight controls itself whenever I’m happy and occupied, mixing with friends and getting outside as much as possible.

Despite enjoying exercise, I’m not naturally skinny, but over the years I’ve learned to love my shape. The turning point was ditching the diets and feeding my body nutritious food to stay strong and healthy… What about you?

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