We live in a society where food is humanized and labeled as good or bad. Where being thin is healthy, beautiful and praised, while larger-bodied individuals are judged or viewed negatively. Where our morals are based on the foods we did or did not eat today. Where our strength is measured by the amount of willpower we have to resist certain food. And where weight loss is not only always promoted, but idealized. What I have just described is diet culture.
Diet culture promotes restrictive meal plans, intentional weight loss, and weight bias. Restrictive diets foster deprivation and hunger by limiting calories, fat, carbohydrates, and/or protein (and let’s be honest, enjoyment and pleasure) for the purpose of weight loss. But guess what?! Intentional weight loss fails long term more than 95% of the time. Two-thirds of those dieters will gain back even more weight than they originally lost, and roughly one third of those dieters will develop an unhealthy relationship with food leading to disordered eating behaviors. Yet we continue to try the next best diet trend in hopes that this one will work, because diet culture tells us that it will. Not only is not going to work, but have you ever asked yourself what’s the trade-off?
Restrictive diets have been linked with lower metabolic rates, which is what causes the weight regain. We’ve all heard of the weight plateau, and yes, it’s a real thing. But, why? Because our bodies like balance, equilibrium and stability. They function optimally within a goal weight range that is individualized to each person. Once our body weight gets below that range, our metabolism decreases while our appetite increases, which is our bodies’ natural and biological response to assist with maintenance inside of our optimal goal weight range. Further restriction, deprivation, or exercise will not help, no matter what the multibillion-dollar diet industry wants us to believe.
Diet culture has also lent itself to a disastrously unhealthy weight stigma that glorifies the thin ideal and discriminates against those larger bodies. News flash: thin does not equal healthy or happy and larger does not equal unhealthy or lazy. Our bodies are ours, genetically passed down from generation to generation by our ancestors, and it’s time we start loving them and respecting them for what they are, what they do for us, and most importantly, for their individuality.
I’m Rudi Landera, a non-diet Dietitian here to help you relearn how to feed and nourish your body intuitively without deprivation or dieting, but by finding joy in food again, listening to your internal cues, and honoring your preferences, which is known as Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating, as defined by one of its founders, Evelyn Tribole, is a “self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought. It is a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.” It is a practice that requires cultivation, time and patience, but we are all born intuitive eaters and can be retrained to be intuitive eaters with the proper tools and skills.
It’s time to finally stake a claim in your health by ditching the restrictive diets and trying a new approach to improving your physical and mental health and wellbeing. It’s time to stop counting macros, counting calories and trying to be “good” by limiting your intake of foods that societal norms have demonized. It is time to create a stronger connection between your body and mind in order to fulfill your needs and reignite your innate ability to nourish yourself appropriately. It’s time to say goodbye to diet culture, and hello to Intuitive Eating.
Rudi Landera is a licensed dietician–who is fully anti-diet. She is based in Miami and believes in the power of Intuitive Eating.