Food is such an important part of life, I mean we need it to be able to live and survive. My relationship with food has changed so much over the last years, that it’s had such a negative impact on the way I think. I know alot of you reading this will probably have had the same experience as me. And it all comes down to diet culture.
If you aren’t aware of what diet culture is, let me break it down for you. Diet culture refers to a set of beliefs that prioritises thinness, appearance and shape over genuine health and wellbeing. It makes the outward appearance of being smaller, and external factors more important than actually being healthy. And this is where the issue lies. Diet culture comes in all types of forms. Whether it’s your favourite social media influencers promoting tea to lose weight. Or your local slimming world/weight watchers groups. They all contribute to this culture of ‘diet’. Now before you think I am bashing those companies, thats not the case. But in my own personal experience, they are the reasons for my own issues with food. They contributed massively to it. And I’m sure there are so many other people out there who feel the same.
This post is part of a series of posts I am putting together all about food, and changing our eating habits. I recently started my own new lifestyle journey and I want to share that with you. I want to share how I am reversing everything I have learnt about food, and how I am improving my overall health and wellbeing. And I thought what better way to start this series than to start with the issue itself. Diet culture and food.
HOW IT ALL STARTED FOR ME
For my whole life I know I have been bigger than my peers. I am from Caribbean descent, which automatically makes my metabolism slower and my eating/hunger higher. Most of my family are on the bigger side, or struggle to lose weight. And with that, come various health problems too. I tend to go through phases of wanting to lose weight and be healthy. I went from diet to diet constantly trying to shift some pounds so that I could be smaller and more desirable.
Around 4/5 years ago I took the plunge and joined a local slimming world group. If you aren’t from the UK slimming world is just like weight watchers. It is a point system of sorts which puts foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories. You got 15 syns everyday, which you could use on whatever you wanted. Red flag number one. Who labels food as syns? The idea with slimming world is that you can eat as much fruit, veg, pasta, potatoes, low fat meat as you wanted. And then anything else must be synned. I did this plan for 6 months or so, and I lost 3 stone in total/19kg/42lbs. But it was never going to stay off, because that way of eating was never sustainable for me.
Of course, I put that weight back on and had to start again. During that time I lost all of that weight, I still really struggled with eating and my own body image. Just like any other time. Slimming world didn’t ever teach me that I could enjoy food, and it didn’t need to be labelled as a treat. It taught me that I needed to restrict the food I love to lose weight, which I know now is not the case at all. Food is food. And only now I am learning this.
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MY NEW LIFESTYLE JOURNEY
Like alot of people, my relationship with food got even worse when we were locked down. Food was the only thing I had to look forward to, and because of this I gained weight like most of the world population during 2020. The thing that really tipped me over the edge though, was a recent health diagnosis. Which really made me consider the choices I was making. Gaining weight, and having your weight fluctuate is perfectly fine and normal. But for me, it meant that this health condition could get worse if I didn’t do something about it.
Which brings me to where I am today. Un-learning all of the diet culture nonsense I had programmed my brain to understand. Changing my relationship with food and becoming a better version of myself. Learning how food is food and its there to be enjoyed.
I’m not doing this alone though, I have the help of my wonderful online coach Ellie. Who is there with me every step of the way. Not only am I changing my relationship with food, but also my relationship with exercise and moving my body. I have never been in love with exercise until now. And I didn’t ever think I’d get to this stage in my life, and it truly feels so good.
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How has diet culture affected your relationship with food? Has diet culture impacted you?
Over the coming weeks I will be sharing more and more about my new lifestyle journey. And will get to a point where I share my before and after images and all of that good stuff. I hope you enjoy this up coming series and it gives an insight into how toxic diet culture can be for us.