The Influence of Diet Culture in Society – And the Importance of Self-Compassion

This article was originally published on January 9, 2021.

Life is hard. There is no doubting that, and it is so easy to give up. Especially with this new year, a lot of people are motivated to work hard and change something in their lives. For those of you who are motivated, it’s great to want to reach your goals. However, sometimes, these things can go too far.

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is wanting to lose weight. Go to a gym anytime in January, and the place is packed. Staying fit and healthy is great, but it can also create so many different effects on people. Diet culture is a group of different influences that urge people to diet and pay extra attention to what they eat. There are tips everywhere to lose that extra pound. Even so, studies have shown that diets don’t work most of the time. Sure, you might lose weight a bit, but the majority of people either end up gaining most of their weight back or even develop eating disorders such as anorexia or binge-eating disorder. And let me make sure you get it right – eating disorders are not a choice. It’s a mental condition. They can’t “just eat”. It’s not that simple. It’s also not based on one specific look. Anybody around you can have one, and you may not know of it.

I’m sure you’ve heard of several different diets such as being vegan, paleo, low carb diets, high protein diets, and intermittent fasting. These diets can have negative effects on people. Many people do not feel nourished while taking part in these diets but do not stop, as they think they’re doing something good for their bodies. Well, guess what, they’re not. For example, low carb and low-fat diets reduce the number of vital carbs and fats. Fats are used for long term energy storage and help your brain. It is also extremely important for protecting your organs, digesting important nutrients, cell growth, and keeping people warm. Fats can be found anywhere, such as in meats, pastries, and cream. Carbs are so critical to providing your body with enough energy, fueling your brain, kidneys, lungs, and other organs. Carbs are forms of glucose to power your body. There are many different sources of carbs, such as grains, fruits, milk, and potatoes.

I also want to bring awareness to the fact that healthy living is something that has been widely broadcasted, throughout the world, which is great. However, it causes many to look down on themselves. Especially for women, having a smaller waist, and being thin has been an expectation. I want to dismantle this expectation, as people are beautiful just the way that they are. And if you are doubting yourself and feel guilty when eating, something to remember is that food is a fuel source for your body. Whether it is fruit, chicken, apple pie, or anything else you can imagine, it all provides nutrition to your body to keep it fueled. Furthermore, managing one’s weight will be best with a registered dietician, rather than following popular internet diets.

Self-compassion is also extremely important in everybody’s life. I once heard somebody tell me that you can’t love others until you love yourself. And I’ll be real here: it’s hard. I’m working every day to work on this for myself too. But all of us can work every single day to at least find one thing that we appreciate about ourselves.

Diet culture is something that has influenced everybody’s life. Even if it hasn’t directly affected you, it’s going to be in our world regardless. Diet culture can have crazy effects on people and the things that they do. But with a little bit of faith, trust, and pixie dust, we can work towards spreading more awareness about eating disorders, mental health, and the influence of diet culture. Also, don’t make changes to your lifestyle to make you look better to others. Appreciating yourself is just the first step to a happier life.

And last of all: Please remember that you are so beautiful, loved, enough, and worthy of an amazing life and happiness.