My weight has constantly been in the back of my mind since I was 9 years old. I remember my cousin going on a diet around the age of 10. I was labeled by my elementary school peers as the “fat kid” around age 10. Since then I have struggled with the idea that weight directly equates to one’s worth in our society, but I didn’t know it. That’s one of the most insidious thing about diet culture: making us feel like our value is tied to our weight without us even knowing it.
I recently purchased this Intuitive Eating Workbook by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN to help me further explore the idea that our weight is not tied to our value, morals, or character. As soon as I received it, I dove into the exercises geared at reminding us that our body knows when to eat, how much to eat, and what to eat. I didn’t realize how much diet culture plays into so may aspects of my life. From being insecure about what I order when out with other people to feeling like I’ll never be successful unless I lose weight. I’ve tried many a diet since high school which never lasts more than a few days. Which in turn made me feel like a loser.
Tribole and Resch’s book states that if diets were held up to the standard of the FDA like with medication, diets would never be approved. Diets are the only “medicine” that people don’t blame for not working, we blame ourselves instead. It’s not our fault, it’s the diet’s fault. We slave at the gym or deny ourselves the food we want because public health policy declared a war on obesity which has consequently turned us to a burgeoning diet industry which is valued at approximately $60 billion dollars a year. In short, rich white people are profiting off our hate for our bodies. If we hate our bodies, we will spend thousands and thousands of dollars attempting to make us feel whole and beautiful throughout our lifetimes. Makeup, diets, exercise programs, are sold to millions of people on the idea that whatever new product or fad diet will solve all of our problems. Have you ever told yourself “I’ll take that vacation when I lose weight”? Or “I will finally find love when I lose weight”?
This workbook has already helped me challenge beliefs that have held me back my entire life. Since I started the journey with this workbook, I have been able to get out from under the weight of my disdain for myself and my body. I’ve been on a journey of body positivity for the past five or so years, but this is really giving me some hard evidence to sink my teeth into. It’s okay that diets don’t work for me. It’s okay to eat donuts or candy or things that have been labeled “bad” foods. This idea has given me such freedom, and I’m fully embracing that. More like your aunt with weird boundary issues hugging the breath out of you. I’ve been waiting since I was 9 for this freedom, and I am ecstatic about it.
How has diet culture affected your life?