Self, Health And Wellness

The 10 Ways Diet Culture, Wellness, And Fitspiration Posts Do More Harm Than Good

Photo: Joshua Rawson-Harris via Unsplash
10 Reasons Why The Diet Culture, Wellness, And Fitspiration Are Harmful

We live in a culture, a world where food, weight, exercise, wellness, fitness, and fitspiration are veiled versions of an overarching structure called the Diet Culture. 

And most of us do not know what Diet Culture is, despite living it every day.

RELATED: The 4 Biggest Problems With 'Body Positive' Instagram Posts

"Fish do not know they are wet" is one of my favorite sayings. Of course, this article is not about fish. It is about you and most people you know. 

Like fish who do not know they are wet, subtle and overt messages to control our body, weight, and health are the particles in the air we breath.

There's nothing wrong with having a healthy diet and proper nutrition.

However, Diet Culture beliefs are socially constructed, often disguised as wellness, health, and fitness inspiration. They have become mainstream. And the effects of the Diet Culture air particles we unknowingly ingest detract from living a life of true freedom and joy. The messages and their impact suffocate us.  

How do I know so much about health and wellness? My sources are professional and personal.

As an Ivy League trained psychologist specializing in body image, eating disorders, and sexual functioning, my most powerful credential to speak on this topic is a personal experience.

As a teenager, I was on death’s door due to anorexia and through my young adult years, I chronically dieted. I even underwent plastic surgery to change my body size.

For the last 25 years, I've enjoyed the freedom associated with giving the finger to Diet Culture, wellness, and fitspiration.

RELATED: What It Really Means When People Talk About 'Living A Healthy Life'

You've internalized Diet Culture and don't even know it, but here are 10 reasons why these do more harm than good. 

1. You see Mondays as a fresh start. You have an intentional weight loss diet plan for what and when to eat. You are vigilant about your choices. When you violate the rules you have put forth, you are irritable, frustrated, and believe you lack willpower. Your Inner Critic goes on a tirade. 

2. You evaluate your day based on food choices and what the scale says or would say if you were to check.  

3. You deprive yourself of food you really like or want to eat. Or you binge on that food, reprimand yourself, and restrict "starting tomorrow or on Monday". Rinse, wash, repeat. 

4. You are critical of your body size or weight.

5. You believe body size and food choices are a marker of virtue. 

6. You pay for/participate in weight loss programs. 

7. You believe that if you try hard enough or have enough willpower, you will lose weight. You believe it is all about calories in, calories out, as if it is just math.

8. You think the inevitable weight gain that follows intentional weight loss is your fault. You don’t know that biology is why 98 percent of people who diet/pursue intentional weight loss regain the lost weight or more after one year. The science of metabolism and the facts of Species Survival are built-in mechanisms you don’t consider. 

9. You spend a lot of time and energy thinking about food and your body size, even right now.

10. You put life on hold until you are thin enough. 

The problem with these beliefs is that they keep you stuck — stuck on thoughts of food, weight, and exercise.

You lose the time, energy, and soul that could be going toward living your best life — enjoying food, enjoying sex, and experiencing your body as a source of pleasure, not shame. 

What if, just for today, you liberated yourself from Diet Culture rules? What if, instead, you began to trust your body’s innate wisdom? What if you actually honored your body and chose what and when to eat from a place of self-care rather than self-control?

Try it and see what happens!

RELATED: Why We Need To Change The Way We Talk About Body Image, Health & Wellness (Like, Now)

Dr. Daniels is a private practice psychologist who is passionate about helping women embrace their desires and fully engage in life. To learn more about her, go to her website.