In our modern capitalist society we are constantly being body shamed and sold diet pills, meal substitution cookies and detox milkshakes.
For years there have been diet after diet being sold to us: the Atkins diet, the Dukan diet, Ketogenic diet, the lemon and cucumber detox diet, Zone diet and even the baby food diet. And every year there are crazy new trends being introduced with everyone jumping on the bandwagon – remember Kim Kardashian’s ‘appetite suppressant’ lollipop?
But have we ever stopped to think about the dangers and effects of diet culture?
Dieting has become all about being skinnier and losing weight to fit the “ideal” society that capitalism has ingrained in us. Instead of wanting to be healthier and changing our eating habits it is all about which diet can help me lose weight the quickest and which diet will be the most effective for losing as much as I can? For most people, dieting has been a common lifestyle goal and it has always been about the numbers. How much do I weight? How much should I lose? Did I even lose any weight? But do we ever think about how our body might be reacting to these diets.
Advertisements and messages we read on Instagram and online don’t state how eating healthier helps us sleep better, aids our energy levels and concentrate more. Instead they claim all the ways it can help us lose weight and body shames us into buying new products to “fix” it and “improve”. Instead of promoting healthy eating and exercising – a balanced lifestyle, diets are always sold as being the answer purely on its own. Selling the idea that this particular diet will “fix” everything.
Dieting has never proven to “fix” everything. Of course the ad would say it does, they are there to sell a reality which we buy into. But what the advertisement doesn’t sell to us consumers is that you don’t suddenly lose the weight overnight, or that you might be miserable because you feel hungry or miss eating your favourite foods. Because of this and the evolving way of eating, people are becoming obsessed with what they are putting in their bodies.
We are told that particular diets will help us lose weight by cutting out the many foods that have been deemed “bad” for us and so we try out all the different fads like cutting out carbohydrates or just eating fruit. But what these diet “professionals” don’t share are the hidden dangers.
Firstly, by reducing your calorie intake you are slowing down your metabolism, which at first might result in some weight loss. But, after a while the weight loss will stop as your metabolism changes and slows down. Secondly, by eliminating so many food groups from your diet you are risking developing mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Which can affect the immune system, making it more vulnerable. Even if you are increasing your protein intake to make up for the lack of vitamins and minerals it can dangerously affect your kidneys, which in some devastating cases, results in kidney failure.
Dieting makes our life revolve around eating and food. It creates an unhealthy relationship with food and as a result our life revolves around what you’ve eaten, was it part of the diet plan, how many calories was in it? We begin to obsess over the things we are putting in our body, constantly beating ourselves up for not losing weight quick enough or snacking when you weren’t supposed to. Dieting culture has now evolved into trends such as restricted dieting, which has led to “orthorexia”, an eating disorder where an individual develops an unhealthy obsession with “clean” and “pure” food.
Pixie Turner, a nutritionist and Instagram influencer, who developed orthorexia in her early 20s now uses her account to create awareness and discuss dieting myths – breaking down the lies brands and society has been ingraining into our heads about clean eating and diets.
Our relationship with food needs to change, and instead of focusing on the numbers and the guilt, we need to focus on how our body is feeling and what food is best for us. We should stop trying to conform to what society, advertisements and Instagram is telling us is “pretty” and the “perfect size” and focus on what we love about ourselves, being comfortable in our own skin, body positivity and building a healthy relationship with food.
Last modified: 3rd December 2019