Rejecting diet culture

By Michael from AnyBody Ireland

The following observations and behaviors have personally helped me reject diet culture and aim for peace with my body.


1. The dieting industry exists for one reason only, and that is money. The majority of people cannot maintain weight lost from a diet for more than a year or two before they return to or exceed their starting weight. If diets worked, there would only be one diet plan which would apply to everyone and would only be required once. This isn’t the case. Diet culture needs your money for the latest fasting trend, pill, beach body plan, keto diet, Atkins, Slimming World etc. As long as you buy into the lie that changing your external body will result in happiness and validation, you remain vulnerable to diet cultures toxic message. It’s quite freeing to discover the dieting industry is built on sand and that you have a choice of either distancing yourself from it or perpetuate the cycle of diet..binge…loathe…diet again and again.


2. Don’t force anyone to hear your views on the fallacy of dieting. Not everyone is ready to let go of the fantasy that a thinner body equals a problem free life. Others will be hostile to your views as they are invested in a particular set of beliefs or behaviors that align with their unique way of navigating the world. Don’t take it personally – wish them well and move on with your life. If they ever want your advice, give it sincerely with no expectations. I found this tough at first as I couldn’t understand why everyone else couldn’t see what I saw but we are all different.


3. Health and weight aren’t as relational as society preaches. Some very large people are very healthy both physically and mentally and can display some excellent markers of health like low blood pressure, healthy blood sugar and cholesterol etc readings. On the flip side there are many, many thin people who are exceptionally sick with a variety of diseases. Never ever judge someones health based on their appearance.

4. Health promoting behaviors, when incorporated regularly, can form a solid foundation to the goal of body appreciation. Some days I feel crap. Life can be tough but I try to do at least one of the following daily: drink a few cups of water, move my body in a way that feels enjoyable, get enough sleep, try and make one even small social connection, meditate and eat something that satisfies. Small behaviors like this, accumulated, can be of tremendous benefit to your outlook.



5. Forget body positivity. It’s exploitative “toxic wellness” in another outfit. You cannot go from years of hating your body and shrinking from your reflection to suddenly flaunting your body in colorful clothes, sticking 2 fingers to the world and feeling 100% comfortable in your skin. It’s not going to happen. The brain does not subside quietly from years of negative and irrational thought patterns and body hatred simply from reading a few articles epousing trite slogans such as “Smile, the world will forget everything else” “Your body is the least interesting thing about you..dazzle the world with your spirit”. I hate to burst your bubble but your brain is only doing what its designed to do…protect you. It reacts to the insidious messages we absorb growing up. Every diet, shame fest, tears at our reflection etc is a normal reaction to your brain trying to “protect” you from the culture we live in. Aim instead for body neutrality. You may not love or even like your body but can you respect it and serve it? You don’t need to like your body to respect it…and there are many ways to show respect.