How to Break Free From the Diet Culture

healthy dinnerFor the first time ever, I am taking steps towards achieving true well-being instead of just solely focusing on the numbers on a scale. Throughout the last twenty years, I have always believed that a healthy lifestyle is synonymous with weight loss. Unfortunately, my struggles with food began during my college years and continued into my adult life. I have tried various diets such as Slim Fast, the Keto Diet, the Fast Metabolism Diet, and Weight Watchers, but my weight has always fluctuated, and I never achieved a healthy lifestyle. Food and weight have always been a significant challenge for me.

Why now?

At the age of 54, I have had a health scare. Due to extremely high cholesterol levels, accompanied by lightheadedness and dizziness, my doctor has suggested running some tests. The results have shown that the left internal carotid artery has some blockage and surgery may be necessary. Although it won’t be easy, I understand that breaking free from my lifelong diet mindset is imperative.

I am sharing the steps to break free from the diet mentality. My goal is to help anyone going through a similar experience and keep myself accountable by putting my commitments into writing. I am still beginning this journey, but I wanted to share it with you in the hopes that it might inspire you to rediscover a healthier and more balanced relationship with food and your body.

Acknowledge the Diet Culture Trap

Diet culture refers to the societal fixation on thinness, equating it with beauty, success, and health. The diet culture trap encompasses a range of behaviors, beliefs, and norms that perpetuate the idea that one’s worth is intrinsically tied to one’s body size. This trap often leads individuals to engage in restrictive diets, excessive exercise, and constant pursuit of the elusive “perfect” body.

Acknowledging the diet culture trap is the first step towards breaking free from its grip. Embracing body positivity, intuitive eating, and a holistic approach to health can empower individuals to reject harmful societal norms. Cultivating self-compassion and practicing self-care is integral to fostering a positive body image and dismantling the toxic aspects of diet culture.

Shift Focus to Health, Not Weight

I have decided to shift my focus from just the number on the scale to my overall well-being. Previously, while on a diet, I checked and recorded my weight every Sunday morning. Whenever the scale didn’t show any improvement, I felt disappointed and tended to focus more on diet foods rather than making healthy choices. However, I have now realized the importance of prioritizing my health by making choices that nourish my body, support energy levels, and contribute to my long-term vitality. This change in perspective has helped me adopt a sustainable and positive approach to self-care.

Set Non-Weight-Related Goals

Rather than obsessing over my weight loss goals and weighing myself every Sunday, I have decided to set objectives focused on holistic well-being. I aim to improve my energy levels, enhance physical fitness, and cultivate better sleep habits. My target is to be active for at least 30 minutes a day. Walking is one of the best exercises for heart health and offers numerous benefits. According to the American Heart Association, it can help improve your cholesterol, blood pressure, and energy levels, ultimately enhancing your heart health. Walking can also reduce stress, clear your mind, and boost your mood. By setting non-weight-related goals, I hope to experience a more positive and well-rounded sense of achievement.

Cultivate a Positive Body Image

In today’s society, there is a strong emphasis on beauty standards and unrealistic ideals, which can lead to negative self-perception. However, it’s important to challenge these norms and work towards fostering a positive body image. This journey of self-discovery and self-love takes time, but it’s worth it. I believe that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. To help me on this journey, I surround myself with positive influences, such as Alex Light and Dr. Jenn Huber, who are body-positive advocates on social media. I also engage in communities that promote self-love and distance myself from toxic environments that perpetuate negative body image.

Educate Yourself on Nutrition

Instead of following restrictive diets like Keto, I’ve had to educate myself on nutrition to make informed choices for a heart-healthy way of life. Understanding the value of nutrient-dense foods and how they contribute to your overall health has been a challenge. However, this knowledge empowers me to make choices that align with my well-being.

Ditch the All-or-Nothing Mentality

I am trying to break free from the strict all-or-nothing mindset often associated with diets. I have realized that balance is the key, and it’s okay to occasionally indulge in my favorite treats without compromising my overall healthy lifestyle. This flexibility has helped me adopt a more sustainable and enjoyable approach to eating. I believe treating myself compassionately is the key to making this journey last a lifetime.

Breaking free from the diet mindset is a liberating journey that opens the door to a healthier and more enjoyable relationship with food and your body. By shifting your focus to overall well-being and setting non-weight-related goals, you can embrace a lifestyle that prioritizes health and happiness over temporary, restrictive measures. Here’s to the freedom of nourishing both body and soul!

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