Why Dieting Is Stupid + Diet-Culture Is Dangerous… And What You Can Do About It

By Kyla Sokoll-Ward

Ever hear your friend slip a little bit of, “Ugh, I should NOT be eating this” into a lunch date? And then suddenly the whole conversation becomes about self-judgment, the good foods, the bad foods, and how we just need to drop a couple more pounds before we reach happiness…

From thinness often being thought of as the societal epitome of beauty (it’s not!) to food restriction being a regular thing (it shouldn’t!); from “guilt-free” recipes (as if guilt were an ingredient) to booty-busting workouts to “make up” for eating ice cream (no need to justify ice cream with crunches!) – we’re inundated with this insanity all the time, often without our even realizing.

THAT is diet culture.

And it’s messing with our minds and bodies.

When we’re constantly being told to be thin (but not too thin), curvy (but only in the right places), and sexy (but not too much!)…we internalize it. The endless need to be morphing our bodies into something they’re not – and our extreme methods of doing so – become part of the daily conversation.

Which is why Amy Schumer’s skit, “I’m So Bad” is hitting home.

Whether she’s talking about dating, living in a male-dominated society, or sex, Amy unapologetically sneaks an important message into her comedy. This time, she’s calling BS on diet culture. (Feminist hero, anyone??)

And it is BS.

Making “good” food choices does not make you a good person. Your weight does not determine your worth. Yet too often we tell ourselves that our food choices (or lack thereof) are indicative of how good of a person we are.

But kale doesn’t make you saintly and doughnuts don’t make you worthless. Our food choices aren’t moral choices. They have truly nothing to do with each other.

How we behave in the world should be way more important than the food on our plate, right? You’re not a better person because you managed to ignore a chocolate craving.

So what’s the take-away? (Beyond the fact that diets make us, well, insane.) It’s this: to eat whatever you want. When you want. Without guilt.

When we stop placing moral judgements on our food choices, we give the power back to our bodies. We start listening to our cravings. We learn how to tune into to our wants and needs and to guiltlessly eat the foods we want, when we actually want them.

The result: peace around food.

Think about it: if you know you can eat chocolate any time, you’ll eat it whenever you feel like it instead of binge eating it before starting over on your diet tomorrow. And hey, this could mean you’re eating some every day. Maybe only once a month. The point is that our body’s needs and cravings are always changing and dieting keeps us from tuning into that!

Ask yourself this: are you feeling better or worse about yourself based on how you’re eating throughout the day? Feeling like you need to do a killer workout and guzzle a green juice to cleanse the “bad” out after eating a food that you’re calling “off-limits”? If so, you may need to reevaluate how you determine what makes someone good or bad, and what the hell food has got to do with that (hint: nothing!).

Do a little experiment over the next week to assess your relationship to food.

Instead of eating your typical go-to meals, ask yourself what you’re really craving. Salty? Crunchy? Warm? What sounds really satisfying right now? Something that would leave you feeling nourished both physically and emotionally?

Always know that you’re allowed to eat anything you want – permission is key here!

Your body does have the wisdom to tell you what and how much food she needs – we just gotta listen in.

Think of it as one big experiment with your body – you get to see what foods make her feel energized or sluggish or comforted, and then you’ll be more apt to intuitively listening to those needs all the time.

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