I’ve been thinking a lot about the growing public outcry against the damage done to women by Diet Culture.
Here’s an explanation of Diet Culture that I find useful. It’s a belief system that values and intensely focuses on weight, shape, and size over physical health and well-being. It can include rigid eating and exercising patterns in the name of fostering good health, but in reality they’re still all about achieving some idealized weight, shape or size.
Do you think you’re a victim of Diet Culture because you want to lose weight?
Or, do you think: if it’s possible to change my relationship with food, my body and my weight and lose excess weight in the process I’m all in?
If that’s you, you’re exactly in the right place!
Think about how you first became conscious of your weight and size as a problem to be solved. Here’s my story.
My early indoctrination into Diet Culture.
Although I never had weight issues as a child, when I compared myself to my best friend, I worried about my size. While she was genetically willowy, tall and lean, I was short with more of an athletic build. My full figure started blossoming in elementary school. So embarrassing! But I was not, in any way, overweight.
I remember her mother telling me, for my own good of course, that I was chunking up. She proclaimed I’d better watch what I eat and lose some weight. More than 50 years later I can still see the imperious look on her face as she eyed me up and down during her pronouncement.
Unwittingly, my ideas of body and face beauty were “conditioned” by the thousands of look-alike images I consumed.
As a teen, I devoured Seventeen magazine. If I beat my mother to the mail, I secreted away her Glamour and Vogue magazines as soon as they arrived.
Super skinny model Twiggy was the icon of my youth. Do you remember Jean Shrimpton with her soulful eyes staring like the Mona Lisa off the cover of Vogue?
Eventually, the photos of super skinny models morphed into those of athletically thin models like Christie Brinkley and Cheryl Tiegs. Images of those young women were the first I can remember that hinted at the virtue and desirability of a healthy, toned, slim body, blonde or honey colored hair, blue eyes and a fresh-faced, sun-kissed golden glow.
And that was not me, nor would it ever be me.
Regardless of the model type, the images showed me that the pursuit of thinness was the holy grail.
They influenced every aspect of my understanding of femininity, sexuality, body, weight and over all attractiveness. Without even one ounce of resistance, I eagerly absorbed the messages.
In retrospect, I can see how I learned to take for granted that thin, no matter the price, was a prize worth fighting for.
All the input in my youth from television, the movies, and magazines was saturating and rewiring my brain. Who knew?
Diet Culture and the diet food industry, partners in crime.
When Coca-Cola introduced Tab, their first calorie-free diet soda, I had to have it. The words calorie-free were music to my ears.
Remember fat-free Snackwell Chocolate Cookies with the dark chocolate shell on the outside and devil’s food cake on the inside? My kryptonite.
I thought calorie-free or fat-free ANYTHING gave me a free pass to consume without consequences if the calorie count was low enough.
All those magazine articles and talk show experts told me that the calories in/calories out equation was the sole determinant of my weight. I trusted their information. It wasn’t until decades later I learned how wrong they were.
What was your calorie-free or fat-free favorite that you thought you could eat with impunity?
Well, I was wrong about sugar free, calorie free and fat free.
Where, exactly, was that implied freedom?
In truth, I was enslaved by those claims. They became the framework which determined all my food decisions. What to buy, what to eat, what to prepare for my family. All of it.
I eschewed butter in favor of margarine (who knew from trans fats then). Fat-free cookies, candies, and cakes always made the cut. Crispy chicken skin? No way. Egg white omelets only, please. Artificial calorie free sweeteners were my go-to’s.
Hyper calorie awareness, all the counting, consuming and expending became a way of life.
But, to our detriment, Diet Culture’s obsessive focus on diets driven by calories set us up for the obesity epidemic that wreaks havoc on our health today.
My 5 Common Myths About Weight Loss guide explains how these myths actually insured failed diets and hindered weight loss efforts.
The quest for thin at any price has exacted a terrible toll on women. We’ve tried everything to lose weight depending on incomplete or totally incorrect information promoted by Diet Culture.
* We worshiped at the shrine of thinness and held it aloft as if it were a moral value
* Thought we were less than, broken, or incompetent because we could not attain or maintain an ideal weight
* Equated thinness with good health
* We demonized certain foods and food groups
* Become hyper-vigilant and obsessive about food
* We disregard and discount women who don’t match the picture of health, fitness or attractiveness we idealize
Everything we were told has led to nothing but emotional torment for women at every weight. Years of one failed diet after another, yo-yo dieting and disordered eating are still driving us crazy and breaking our hearts.
But there’s good news, my friends! I promise.
We’ve learned so much more about brain and metabolic science in the 21st century. These findings can teach us a lot about how to correct the misunderstandings and misconceptions of the past.
We don’t have to accept that it’s just natural for the human body to gain weight and grow larger with each passing decade. We can educate ourselves about how brain and metabolic science operate to better understand why we are in the predicament we find ourselves. So many aha moments are coming your way!
Understanding how to make informed choices about the food we buy, prepare and eat is the first place to start.
We need to challenge the food industry that sells us edible products that our bodies don’t even recognize as food.
Refuse to buy them! Yes they taste delicious. But I chose to believe that just because something tastes good does not mean it’s nourishing for my body.
The food industry is very savvy at manipulating us to sell their products.
They employ highly trained food chemists to tinker with the ratios of fat, sugar and salt to achieve the the “bliss point” in manufactured edibles. They tamper with our brain neurotransmitters and insulin levels which cause us to keep craving their nutritionally empty products.
But don’t be hoodwinked by the food manufacturing industry. They have bottom line profits in mind, not your emotional or physical health. Just because they “design” hyper-palatable, super yummy edibles doesn’t mean we have to eat them.
And while we’re holding the food industry to a reckoning, we also need to address the Diet Culture narrative and messaging.
Body Positivity and Health at Any Size movements shine a light on the damage Diet Culture inflicts on millions of women.
Twenty-first century women have decided enough is enough.
To address the damage that years of failed diets, yo-yo dieting and disordered eating has inflicted upon women for generations, the Body Positivity and Health at Any Size movements are re-framing the conversation. They’re helping many women reorient their thinking around their relationship with food, their body and their weight.
This is a very good thing.
Examining your biases and prejudices against bigger bodies is important. It’s helped many curvy, large and obese women embrace their bodies as they are without excuses or apologies for taking up space in the world. Despite years of social conditioning that tells them they don’t fit the dominate culture’s image of beauty, desirability, competency and power, they are re-writing the script.
Intentionally curating their social media consumption, they’re following women who look more like them. They want to see and support women who promote themselves through a lens of self- acceptance at any size. They are women who command attention as they fearlessly take their place at EVERY table in every industry and social environment.
Pride, pleasure and confidence replace feelings of shame, self-hatred, frustration, resentment and unhappiness.
They are living full lives and inspiring other woman just like them to go after whatever it is they want to be, have and accomplish.
Here’s where I think these movements can disempower women.
In an attempt to right decades of harm to women’s self-esteem and emotional health, when they shun weight loss, they deny women full access to choice.
The health risks associated with obesity are well known. While some large or obese women do have not have problems as measured by blood work, how long will it take before those tests reveal dangerous conditions?
Blood work is just one measure. Normal ranges on blood tests don’t automatically mean they are enjoying good health and physical well-being.
Shortness of breath when exercising or walking distances, heart palpitations, discomforts bending over or stretching, aching joints, chafing skin and rashes, acid reflux, and a host of other bothersome ills can still be conditions that reflect less than optimal health.
Overall, their efforts to relieve guilt and shame around size, shape and weight are welcomed, necessary but insufficient.
Loving yourself and your body at any size is an important and laudable goal. In my opinion, you can’t even begin to lose weight successfully until you accept yourself as you are. Your body is the only home you have. Taking care of it is a life long responsibility.
Whatever your size, you deserve to know more about how food effects your body and your weight.
Understanding long term risks when eating without regard for brain and metabolic science limits your ability to make informed choices.
Most women who want to lose weight aren’t self-loathing, vain and brain-washed. They’re not hapless pawns in a patriarchal/Madison Avenue dystopia of physical perfection.
Women who want to lose weight are motivated to create a vibrant, energetic future. They want to enjoy freedom and peace in their relationships with food, their bodies and their weight.
I want to teach you everything I learned that transformed my relationship with food, my body and my weight. I want you to have a fighting chance to enjoy the same freedom and peace I’ve enjoyed for the past 2 1/2 years.
Women who want to lose weight can’t be pigeon-holed as victims of Diet Culture.
No matter what anti-Diet Culture advocates claim, obesity does not offer or promise good health.
Women who carry excess weight are entitled to want to lose it.
Whether your reasons to lose weight are about your health, appearance, mobility, flexibility, or ease of daily living, every reason that speaks to you is 100% important and valid.
If you’ve met with one failed diet attempt after another, you deserve to know that there is another way forward that makes sustainable weight loss success easier than ever before.
It’s time to start working in alignment with what we know about the brain, neuroscience and metabolic science to make weight loss a reality for you.
Bottom line? This is your one and only life and you should live it your way. If you want to live it in a thinner body, I can help.
I support every woman who wants to learn how to lose weight without fear, criticism or guilt.
Maximizing success in all of life’s endeavors requires that we make choices with knowledge, awareness and intentionality.
Understanding exactly what we’re saying yes to or no to is the best antidote to address Diet Culture’s damage.
Let’s ditch the misinformation rampant in Diet Culture and lean into the science of how and why our brains do what they do. Let’s make decisions about what we eat in alignment with 21st century metabolic science to make weight loss a whole lot easier than it’s ever been in the past.
Let me know you’re curious about what I can teach you. Schedule your free Strategy Call right here.
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