How to Be Anti-Diet in a Diet Culture World

Being “anti-diet” is counter-cultural!

When I think about what it takes to maintain my anti-diet truth in this diet culture world, I get really, really mad. I get mad that I have to put in so much effort to protect myself from the world that I live in, and to protect my own mental health and my recovery.

And I know that we all feel this struggle and frustration. One of my favorite quotes on the topic is from a wonderful colleague of Erica’s:

“We’re trying to recover in a world that hasn’t yet recovered itself.” – Julie Duffy Dillon

And it’s so, so true. Our world is stuck in it’s own eating disorder, normalizing restriction and stigmatizing fat bodies left and right. We have to reassure ourselves every single day that this path, this one that healed us and has guided us away from chronic weight cycling and being absolutely miserable, is in fact the path we need to be on. Diet culture makes us second guess ourselves, and I am tired of it.

So what do we do? Well, I’ve got some ideas…

(Inspired and influenced by Joanne Soolman’s lecture in the Fat Activism Conference 2017)

  1. Stay connected to your community: Whether it’s online or in person, be sure you have a group of people that you can reach out to when something inevitably comes up to trigger those diet-culture thoughts. Weight gain, a doctor’s visit, feeling out of control or like the exploration part of intuitive eating is never going to end… these are all examples of triggers that might make you think, just for a second, about going back to diets. When this happens, don’t spin out! Reach out to that trusted community, and find your support network. Going home for the weekend or holidays and have fat-shaming family members to contend with? Keep a friend on stand-by, and know that they will be there when the going gets inevitably tough.

  2. Keep your science at the ready: Arming yourself with knowledge is key here. It’s not your job to educate anyone, but I know that I always feel better going into intellectually hostile territory if I’ve got my facts straight. So check out Health at Every Size research, be sure to look through Linda Bacon’s archives, and even print out some resources to throw down with if you know you’re going to be up against some hard heads. And remember, honestly, you probably won’t convince anyone of anything. People have invested a lot of time and money into diet culture, and telling them that they wasted it all is going to create some animosity. But knowing the science in and out isn’t really about convincing them; it’s about you knowing that YOU know what’s true, and that their shoddy science doesn’t hold a candle to all the truths you’re truthing.

  3. Change up that newsfeed… like, yesterday: Surround yourself with diverse images. Immerse your social media feeds in different body shapes, sizes, colors, gender expression, styles, etc. Research shows that looking at images of different sized bodies actually alters your brain, and allows you to view those bodies as attractive. Seriously, looking at diverse representations of people actually changes the way you perceive beauty. Cool, right? And this tool is super important, because it ultimately helps with your own body acceptance and internalized fatphobia. And tackling both of those mammoths will, in the end, help arm you against waffling into the diet culture bull.

(originally published on Erica Leon’s Eat Live Nourish blog)