Every time you call yourself “bad” after eating a piece of cake or declare that today is going to be a “cheat day,” that’s diet culture at work. Diet culture is a culture that promotes constant weight-loss and accepts dieting as the norm. It promotes the idea that being thinner will make you happy.
While it’s important to be healthy and confident, trying to find these things through diet culture is almost impossible. This summer, instead of giving in to the pressure to drop five, 10, or 20 pounds, follow these three tips to leave diet culture behind for good.
Find out what “healthy” means for you.
We are long past the days of allowing body mass index (BMI) to determine if we are “healthy,” “at risk,” “obese,” or “underweight.” Instead, it is becoming more common to look at behavior to determine health or even to look at your own body to determine how you feel in it.
Just as easily as a person who is overweight can be unhealthy, a person who is underweight can be unhealthy, too. Not only that, but constantly encouraging overweight people to diet and lose weight is an outright promotion of eating disorders.
Rather than following a scale or arbitrary index to tell you if you’re healthy, listen to your own body. Exercise and eat more or less food based on what makes you feel good and don’t feel pressured to label yourself as “unhealthy” just because a chart says so.
Ignore the media.
While companies like Aerie and Target have made strides in representing more diverse body types, there’s still a long way to go before we see all bodies represented in the media.
The important thing to remember is that just because you don’t see someone who looks like you on TV or in magazines does not mean that you are wrong or invalid. Ignore those negative media messages and remind yourself that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
Know what losing weight will (and won’t) do.
For many people, dropping a few pounds or dress sizes isn’t just about the weight; it’s about what they think losing the weight will do for them. While losing weight might help you feel good in the short-term, it’s not a fix-all solution.
Losing weight won’t make you happy. It won’t make your ex come back. It won’t get you into a better school. It won’t fix your relationship with your parents.
All losing weight does is just that–it makes you lose weight. Don’t tie your happiness and value into the number on the scale. They’re completely unrelated.