Taking Diet Culture With A Grain of Salt
While most of western society continues to be surrounded by new eating trends and fad diets, we believe that it’s important to take these diets with a grain of salt. While the word “diet” generally refers to your preferred way of eating, the connotation and culture of dieting means restricting certain foods and following strict guidelines are now seen as quite a commonality. But at the end of the day, everyone is individual when it comes to eating food, and these different approaches to eating should all be considered with a critical eye.
Learn About Different Ways of Eating — With a Grain of Salt
Here at Salt + Thread, we’d rather stand against the strict idea of “dieting” and rather look toward intuitive eating with the foods that simply make us feel good, and avoiding ones that simply make us feel unwell. That means enjoying your own individual preferred way of eating, while taking the same ideas from diet culture with a grain of salt.
For example, you can apply different methods from different diets to find what works for you. Maybe you’ve heard of the paleo diet and it sounds almost perfect for you: Paleo generally avoids grains and dairy, with heavy emphasis on vegetables, meat, nuts, and seeds. But if you don’t like red meat or tend to enjoy a fair share of dairy, eat such foods accordingly- just pay attention to the quality of products you consume. There is no right or wrong way of eating and everyone has different preferences and bodies including food sensitivities. Simply eat what makes you feel good: Happy, healthy, and energized.
We want to be clear about one thing- when we say to take diet culture with a grain of salt- diet culture itself is not the issue. The issue is finding the right resources that help aid in your own health.
"It's not 'diet culture' to want to feel great & have basic awareness that some foods can raise inflammation, mess up your blood sugar, hurt your digestion, make you feel fatigued, anxious or down." -Leading functional medicine expert Dr. Will Cole
What's the Deal Diet Culture?
There is a certain side of diet culture that simply tends to be toxic. Diets that restrict eating with a general goal to lose weight tend to be #1. Not to mention those lovely fitness influencers marketing "detox tea" as an all-in-one health solution - gross.
While losing weight may be a goal of yours to simply feel healthier (which is totally okay), this side of diet culture can be associated with an unhealthy mindset involving food and eating: Constant counting calories and restricting certain foods that you may like and may provide nutritional value doesn’t sound like a pleasant or natural way to live.
Somehow real, science-driven diet, health, and wellness information has also been shoved into the negative side of "diet culture", when in reality, there is a lot of information in this space that has the ability to help heal chronic illness.
The matter of the fact is: everyone is bio-individual when it comes to food. And while some diets can be helpful in eliminating potentially problematic foods (for example, dairy for someone who’s lactose intolerant), you can make your own diet simply with the whole foods that taste good, feel good, and nourishes you for optimal health. For more on the toxicity of diet culture and what to watch out for when doing your own food research, like detox teas, we like this article by UCSD’s The Guardian. Science-based professionals like Dr. Will Cole and Dr. Mark Hyman are also great options to stay up-to-date!
How About Intuitive Eating?
In addition and in spite of diet culture, intuitive eating is increasingly a favored way of looking at diets and eating. Intuitive eating is encouraged by experts such as the founders of IntuitiveEating.org as a way to create a healthy relationship with food, mind, and body. In general, it’s about knowing what foods will make you feel the best, and knowing that certain foods may make you feel lousy. Some of the principles outlined within intuitive eating includes:
- Honor your health through nutrition
- Reject the idea of a one-size-fits-all diet mentality
- Recognize your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Continue to discover the satisfaction of a good food experience
- Cope with mental health to deal with emotional eating
This way of living can be helpful for people who have struggled in the past with cooking and eating. It can help if you’re unsure about your own food sensitivities and want to be more mindful about how you feel when you eat certain foods. And this reflects the idea of rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach to eating and diets. Food is energy and food is medicine, and intuitive eating helps us bridge the gap between fork, mouth, and mind.
"Not everything is diet culture. acknowledging that shaming your way to wellness is like smoking your way to health shouldn't drive us to suspend logic. Diet culture vs. anti-diet culture is tired. Holding both grace and logic is the third way. Embrace compassion and reason, inclusion and optimization. Both-and, not either-or. Avoiding things that simply make you feel like crap isn't restrictive. It's self respect. Find food peace." - Dr. Will Cole