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  • Writer's pictureVariant Magazine

The Toxicity of Diet Culture

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

By Kennedy Rose, Blogger

Diet culture is a way of thinking that prioritizes weight, shape and size rather than health. It is the “If I could just go down a pant size,” or the “I need to lose 15 pounds before summer” mindset.

We live in a society where body types are trends and the “quickest way to lose 20 pounds” changes every month. This toxic way of thinking can lead to unhealthy habits, body image issues and even eating disorders.

Despite the growing focus on body positivity, diets are still a large part of our culture. In fact, it is currently a $72 billion dollar industry. Diet products earn money by marketing themselves as a way to lose weight, and because the idea that skinnier equals healthier is drilled into our heads, we don’t even register that they may actually be harmful for our physical and mental health.

For example, a popular diet right now is the Keto diet, which requires cutting carbs and sugars and eating mostly protein and healthy fats. It often results in quick weight loss, but it can also lead to heart disease, low blood pressure and kidney stones.

Dieting to lose weight is often how many eating disorders begin, according to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration. Heavily restricting calories and cutting out entire food groups for the sake of weight loss can cause anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Over time, each of these eating disorders can provoke many other health problems, and they’re hard to recover from because the main trigger, dieting, is such a large part of our culture. It is a vicious cycle that anyone can get stuck in.

Though it’s nearly impossible to escape the constant glorification of certain body types and the millions of products geared toward weight loss, there are ways to recognize and ignore diet culture. Anti-diet Instagram accounts such as @jennifer_rollin and @iamlshauntay are great sources for insight on how to stop falling for the toxic message that diet culture sends as well as how to eat healthy without sacrificing your mental health in the process.

Understanding and practicing intuitive eating is also extremely helpful when escaping diet culture. Overall, staying informed and spreading awareness about the harmful effects of diet culture and getting the message out that skinnier does not always mean healthier is the best way to ditch diet culture.

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