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Diet Culture

Diet; of greek origin from the word diata. Diata had 2 meanings for the greeks:

1. To habitually take food and drink and

2. It meant a way of living that involved and included food, drink, lifestyle and exercise. 

But then diet culture happened and completely shifted the true meaning of the word diet. Because in this day and time if you hear or see the word diet it implies the use of specific food intake for weight management that either restricts or eliminates certain or whole food groups.

But who and what is diet culture? More importantly what do they believe?

Diet culture places emphasis on one’s weight, shape and size as opposed to the full picture of both health, well being and lifestyle

It involves distorted eating patterns that let one to believe that a specific body size is what is deemed healthy. Diet culture has been around the block for ages and centuries I mean we all remember Mr Banting and his trend and then there is the infamous Mr Hay who claimed that similar food groups should not be eaten together (I know right?). 

The current diet culture not only restricts or eliminate foods/food groups, they have evolved to believing that specific home remedies, single nutrients/compounds and more popularly, commercially produced products is what will get them to achieve their “goal weight/size/shape”.

a Few main beliefs diet culture believers hold on to is:  

  • Labelling food as good or bad 
  • Eliminating certain foods/food groups
  • Following extensive rules of how, when and what to eat
  • Avoiding foods high in fat, calories and carbohydrates 
  • Feeling anxious about making the wrong decision of what to eat
  • Feeling guilty after eating 
  • Ignoring internal cues from your body like hunger, satiety and thirst. 

These all lead to distorted eating patterns and in some extreme cases may lead to eating disorders. But the main concern for me is that diet culture totally ruin how you relate with food labelling one as bad and the other good.

I personally believe that no food is a bad, they might have an effect on your health if eaten in great amounts, but calling food bad? Now that’s a bit extreme.

I don’t think we will ever be able to dismantle diet culture (a dietitian girl can dream) but what we can do however is make our own food choices sustainable and good in the long term for ourselves and most importantly reading up, staying informed and ultimately asking advice from someone trained in the field to help you make informed decisions about your health.

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