I was scrolling Insta and couldn’t believe the amount of dramatic before and after pics followed by this quote: “just follow my easy food plan to get summer ready.”
For years, we’ve been told that dieting is the key to losing weight.
We’ve been bombarded with ads for diet pills, restrictive meal plans, and intense workout routines that promise quick results.
But what if I told you that exiting diets and diet culture is likely the best thing you could do to finally get on a sustainable weight loss journey?
Watch the video to discover:
1️⃣How diet culture harms our mental and physical health
2️⃣The benefits of becoming a NORMAL EATER instead of a dieter
3️⃣Tips on how to shift your mindset towards a more positive and empowering approach to weight loss.
Full Episode Transcript:
And we are live. Welcome everybody. Come on in and say hi.
Audra here with Hello Body Freedom. Super excited you are here.
Today I am excited to go through a very important topic that we need to talk about that I really want to talk about with you, that we all need to know a little bit more about and it’s exiting diet culture and how that could actually help you lose weight.
And so part of you might be like, wait, what do you even mean diet culture? Like what does that mean? So, I’m happy to inform you that there is a culture of diets and dieting. And the truth of the matter is, is that it is messy. And so, I want to talk a little bit about that today. We’re going to get into that for sure.
And I also am really excited to dive into giving you guys another perspective about weight loss and why the longer we stay locked into diets to dieting to diet culture, how it ultimately just sends us on a yo-yo and a cycle of up and down that ultimately is worse for our health than just living in a bigger body and not trying to continually lose weight.
Studies have shown that that is true as well. So really excited to dive into this with you guys today. If you are new into my world, welcome. My name is Audra I am the creator of Hello Body Freedom, which is all about helping women heal the deeper reasons why they struggle with food and struggle with their body in the first place.
We work on untangling stress eating and anxious eating and comfort eating and all of these reasons that we eat outside of physical hunger. We also work with nervous system regulation. So, when we’ve learned that food is the fix, so we feel a feeling that feels uncomfortable and then we use food as the answer.
And if that has been a problem for you, we help you untangle those as well. So very, very powerful and part of this problem in terms of feeling good in our bodies is diet culture and dieting in general. So, I’m super excited to go through all of this with you.
If you were here live, please come in and say hi. I would love for you guys to leave a comment and say hi. And if you’re watching the replay, hashtag replay and let’s go ahead and dive into this very, very juicy topic because it is a little nasty here.
So, the very first thing we I think we should understand and talk about is like what diet culture is and really understanding that like there’s a definition for diet culture. And whenever we can start to untangle the ways in which our own thinking has been influenced by this phenomenon, the sooner and faster we can start to get out of it.
And I think that when you start to really see the benefit of just stopping the whole craziness of diets, you will when you just see the inconclusive evidence, like it’s hard to it’s hard to deny. And that there’s another way. So, I want to share with you the other way because there really, really is another way. And so, with that, I will before I dive in, we’re just going to give a shout out to Hello Body Freedom.
We’re going to give a shout out if you are not in our world yet. I’ll go ahead and put this ticker down here. So, this is a great way to learn more about how we do this work and how we help our clients get out of this, this kind of dieting hell and diet culture. So that is for you.
So that way when you’re listening to this and it makes sense to you and you want to have a bigger conversation about it, I am here for you. All right.
So dieting is steeped in diet culture. So, let’s talk about diet culture. The definition of diet culture is a set of beliefs and values. So, these are beliefs and values that put thinness and appearance and the shape of your body above health and above well-being. Okay?
It’s, it is a way of showing up in the world that says that I need to be thinner. I need to be smaller. I don’t look good enough. The shape of my body is not okay. And what we do is we prioritize that at the expense of our own health, of our own well-being most certainly.
Diet culture places an incredible importance on not eating, on massively restricting calories. Diet culture puts an emphasis on cutting out whole food groups. Never eat a carb again. Never eat whatever the thing is that you’re not supposed to eat again.
It makes one food right and the other food wrong. Okay?
It labels foods as good and bad. And whenever we do that, whenever we label foods as good and bad, what ends up happening is a little psychological shit show. So, when we eat the foods that are exactly this stuff we’re supposed to eat, then all of a sudden, we think we’re sitting on a little horse and everything is good.
Right? And we make ourselves really right for that. And on the other side of that, since we know that these foods are forbidden and they’re not, we’re never supposed to eat them.
Then whenever we put ourselves on this high ass horse of only eating the most perfect foods, then what we do is we’re, there’s a level of psychological denial that ends up making you want to eat the foods. And I want you to think about that.
The last time you went on a diet, let’s say you started a diet on Monday. What did you do the weekend before? Maybe it started on Friday. Right. Maybe it started on Thursday. Maybe it started the whole week before.
I know that I’ve done this a quadrillion times is that I will eat all the things that I know that I’m not going to be allowed to eat when I do the diet. Right? So, I end up actually over consuming more than I ever would have had I not started the diet in the first place. Okay.
And so when we do this, whenever we make one food good and one food bad, and then we psychologically desperately need this whole diet. We desperately need this quote unquote bad food. But what that does to us psychologically is there’s a part in us that now thinks that we’re bad for eating the bad food and that inner like psychological beat down where we have this inner negative self-talk is part of the problem.
It’s actually a very big problem. Right? So it’s just kind of like all cascades on each other. It’s just like, it’s like this domino effective crap. The other thing that diet culture does is it normalizes negative self-talk.
How many times do I have to go like when I was a kid and I would go listen to my mom and my aunts and my great aunts and everybody go, oh my God, I’m just so fat and just like the self like loathing and the self-talk about how, you know, I’m just I’m never going to be thin enough. I’m never pretty enough. And that’s what diet culture does.
Now, there is a there is a definite, you know, cultural connection and a definite connection to just the oppression of women for sure. I don’t have the stats on me now, but at the end of the day, you know, I mean, women have been oppressed since the beginning of patriarchy since the beginning of civilization. I don’t even know.
But at the end of the day, if you keep women hyper focused on their body and hyper focused on being skinny and hyper focused on being perfect, and then you set up a culture where you will never be thin enough, you will never be pretty enough, even if you lose the weight, you will still find 20 things wrong with you. Right?
That is a really strong way to keep women preoccupied with absolute bullshit that has nothing to do with life, living life has nothing to do with health has nothing to do with vibrancy has nothing to do with feeling good in the body. It just has to do with being skinny and pretty and preoccupied with really superficial shit.
I know this because I lived in it for my whole life until I finally really, really, really escaped about a decade ago. And it is a big problem.
Now, here’s where it gets really messy. So, let’s just go through this again with diet culture. So, it values thinness appearance and shape above health and well-being. So, you will sacrifice your health and well-being to try to get skinny and pretty. You will try every crazy diet under the planet, despite the fact that it could hurt you.
You will go get, you know, whatever surgeries, whatever like crazy pills that haven’t been regulated by the FDA or even the ones that were regulated. What was that pill that we all took in the nineties? I mean, people died. It was a federal. I don’t even know what it was called, but it was just a diet pill so we could be skinny, like come on. It also places importance.
Recapping here. It places importance on restricting calories and cutting out whole food groups. It labels foods as good and bad, which psychologically messes us up for sure. And it normalizes negative self-talk. Okay?
The other thing that it does is it creates because like this food is good and this food is bad and I should eat this and I shouldn’t eat that. It really creates this like all or nothing thinking. It creates this like very perfectionistic way of how you have to be perfect with your food and have to measure everything perfectly. And it’s insanity.
And because it’s so crazy over in this one direction of absolute perfection and all or nothing thinking, then what we have on the other side of it, when we’re just freaking exhausted with following the freaking food plan is we have overeating, emotional eating and binge eating, just sitting on the other side of it.
And if that doesn’t like convince you that there is diet culture and that dieting is a huge, huge part of diet culture, then I’m going to help give you some more stats here. And I think that the status wrong. I think it’s I’ve seen this at a more like a 97% but I’m just going to put what I have written down on my notes.
90% of women don’t like their bodies. I think that number is a lot higher. 97% of women don’t like their bodies. Okay. And where you have a human saying I despise my body, this is unacceptable. I am pissed off at myself and my body and all the world that I have this body.
What you have in that moment is body image issues and wherever you have body image issues with people ultimately like just despising their body, you are going to have dieting and diet culture, diet companies take advantage of our insecurities with our body, our vulnerabilities with our body and with our weight. And I want to really name it.
We live in a culture that fat shames. We live in a culture that makes being any size that’s outside of a supermodel unacceptable. Right. And so, it’s like it’s like a double-edged sword where fuck if we do, we fucked over. It’s just so f-ing exhausting and frustrating. Okay.
Because any place where you are struggling with your body, why wouldn’t you because we live in a culture that creates the struggle for us. It’s not even our struggle. The shit was handed to us. It was handed to us by our society. It’s handed to us by culture. It’s handed to us by, by our family. It’s handed to us like with magazines and media.
It’s handed to us with every single Instagram follow that you follow that has a fake body that uses filters to make their waist look like it’s that fricking big. And then you feel bad about yourself. That’s where diet culture is living. It’s living through the lens from which you decide to see the planet. Okay?
And wherever you have that, you’re going to have a multi-billion-dollar diet industry sitting on the other side going, I got you. I’m going to hit all of your insecurities in my ad, in my marketing. I’m going to make sure to hit it where it hurts so that way you know that my diet plan is the thing that’s the answer, my food plan, my supplement thing, whatever the thing is. Okay?
So, the problem with this, besides what we just said, like, there’s a reason why so many women have finally broken free. They’re now living in this like incredible rebellious space of like F this and F you. I mean, Lord knows I lived there for a couple of years when I live in San Francisco and I had a fitness nutrition company and I was going through it.
I was really going through the internal psychological fuckery of not thinking I was pretty enough, not thinking I was thin enough, not thinking I was flunk. And then because I the harder I would hate my body, the harder I would diet and the harder I would diet, the more my weight would go down and my weight would go like, let’s say here, this is Audra stable.
And then I would go down and then up. And then I double down on that diet, then it would go way down, then it would go way up, then it would go way down and then we go way up. And now this is like stable Audra. And like, I’m nowhere near it, even though I’ve dieted like five or 10 times and gotten down every time substantial, it goes back up.
And this is what I wanted to share with you is that so much study, so much research, so much evidence of we’re talking like cross longitudinal studies over decades show conclusive evidence that 90 to 97% of all women lost weight, 90% of all weight loss diets fail.
And what I mean by that is 90 to 97% of people. Yes, you might lose the weight, but you will gain it back and then you gain it back and you mess with your metabolism over and over and over again, because you’re focused on the wrong things. Okay?
And it is a mess and of those people who gain the weight back one third to two thirds will gain more weight. What this does is it says we would have been better off just if we never started that first diet, that’s how evil dieting and following some specific diet plan is. Okay?
And, and we really want to, you know, really understand this because if you were lost in it, and you’re in so much pain and suffering and you think, oh, the only answer is I know if I just lose weight, then everything will be fine again, everything will be good for me. But it’s not just about weight loss, right? You are steeped in a way of thinking about yourself and thinking about your body and probably thinking about other bodies.
How well that body is not acceptable either because that’s too fat. Like there’s so much just that has to be untangled because freedom, we all deserve freedom, but freedom starts in it’s an in it’s an inside job. It’s an inner game. We have to be willing to go.
I’m going to start with myself. I’m going to start with right here, right now, right today, being nice to myself, not beating the shit out of myself all the time. All right. So, let’s just keep going. I just want to really like nail the last freaking nail into the coffin if I can.
So, if you started dieting young, so I have a lot of clients whose moms put them on weight watchers when they were a preteen or a teenager. We are born of the families where weight watchers and Jenny Craig was just a thing. This was all the eighties and the nineties. And then I mean that would be, you know, that I am a child of that.
But then, you know, my mother was, you know, her mother, my grandmother, you know, she grew up in like when Betty Crocker was a thing. And if you’re a housewife, like nobody cooks whole meals anymore. Now we just get TV dinners. You know what I mean? Now we get right?
And so, the younger you are when you start dieting, it’s the sooner you start habituating that restrict and binge model So I want you to think of dieting as restrict binge, restrict binge. You’re over, you’re, you’re restricting calories in a ridiculous way. You are saying that this food is wrong I’m never allowed to eat this food group.
Like I’m never going to eat a carb again for the rest of my life. And then, you wonder why you binge on them all night long, right? It is a restrict binge cycle, Okay? And the sooner you start dieting, the, the longer that you’re in this ping pong back and forth, right? And because of this, because of this whole thing, diet culture and dieting, it creates food obsession and food preoccupation where all we’re doing is thinking about food, thinking about our body.
It also creates overeating habits, right? And black and white thinking. So, either the food is good or bad, and I’m restricting, I’m restricting, I’m restricting. And now of course I’m overeating and overeating. And I think the worst part of it is that, you know, I believe freedom when I think of like, hello body freedom.
And I think about what it feels like to be so good and so free in my body. It’s because I have a level of connection to my body. I have a level of being able to tune into what’s going on I am able to give myself what I need If I need sleep, I can go get sleep. If I need a walk, I can give myself a walk.
If I need to meditate, I can give myself a meditation session. If I need some yoga, I give myself some yoga. If I need to dance, if, you know, if I just need to sit around and read, if I just need to relax, like, like it is an honoring of what I need, you know, and that is, that is freedom. That is really true. That is how we create body freedom over and over again.
But when you diet, you lose that connection to your body. And I want you to think about your, your own body’s cues, like babies are not born with a measuring cup. A measuring cup did not come out of your mom as who are I don’t know what I’m talking about. You know what I mean?
Like it didn’t come out with the, with the freaking measuring cup saying this is the exact ounces or milliliters or whatever that this kid is supposed to eat It just doesn’t work that way. When, you know, if you were breastfed, was there some measuring cup in there? No, you were hungry. You ate, you have cues in your body, you stopped eating.
Breast milk was nourishing. It tasted delicious. You know what breast milk wasn’t? It wasn’t ding-dongs and Twinkies. And like, like, I mean, the problem is, is we have this diet culture that shames us for our bodies and gives us these obnoxious diet plans. And then we have just a culture of sugar and processed foods and like Starbucks on every corner, McDonald’s on every corner.
And I mean, it’s just a shit show, friends. Like it really is. Oh, it’s making me like, how did I even escape? God damn, thank goodness. Thank goodness I escaped because it does feel like an escape. I feel like I can go to Starbucks now, and I’m not like, I’m not desperate to have whatever sweet thing they have.
I feel like, I don’t ever go to fast food anymore, but I used to all the time. All I ate was fast food at one point in my life, right? The fact that I could be this far on the other side is I can do it like anybody can do it. But really understanding that like losing your ability to tell if you’re hungry or satisfied, this is what dieting does.
This is what diet culture does. This is what the fast food, you know, highly processed cultures that we live in. All of these things, they create this real, real messed up kind of like where we, there’s disconnection. How many of you just live straight up in your head? And just so disconnected from the body I blame a big part of that.
There’s a lot of reasons, but a big part of that disconnection is diets, dieting and diet culture. And more than anything, it just, yeah, it robs you It robs you of that innate skill that that baby can be hungry, knows what to eat, connects, can feel when they’re done, and then they’re done. There’s no wondering. There’s no overeating. There’s no, oh, I really overdid it on mom’s, you know, breast milk today.
Like it’s just not happening. All right? And so really just tuning in to the intensity of what diet culture is. And if you are not convinced that diet culture is a part of your problem, if you are living in a body that is struggling, then definitely turn this off because you don’t want to listen to anything else I have to say, trust me.
But if you can see how living in this way of taking your weight up and taking your weight down and taking your way up and taking your weight down is a part of it, then I think that this is a very important piece to, to untangle.
And the one of the reasons I just want to keep going with this, that it is so hard is because, I mean, and I work, I work with so many amazing clients, so many amazing clients, and they legitimately, legitimately are struggling in their body. We’re struggling with pre-diabetics, metabolic syndrome.
We’re studying full blown diabetes, struggling with, with, you know, irritable bowel, IBS, struggling with leaky guts, struggling with a lot of things in the body that are leading to a lot of pain and suffering and, and holding on to excess weight, dealing with emotional eating patterns, right, where I learned how to use food to fix how I feel, right, lost in this world of like, oh, I’ll just drink this highly processed thing and I’ll eat this highly sugar thing and not even understanding the connection to what that does internally, right?
So, we have, we have diet culture on one side telling us we’re not thin enough or pretty enough. And we have, we have freaking just culture on this side feeding us fast food every day and high flour, high sugar, high caloric density, but not a lot of nutritional value foods. And that loops like as if we were, you know, a cocaine addict.
And we’ve got ourselves a mess, we have ourselves a mess. And if we are living in a body that feels like oversized overweight does not feel comfortable, and you’re like, damn it, I want a way out. And the only thing people are handing you as a diet, then that’s where it starts to get painful and frustrating. And I totally get it.
Now, inside of Hello Body Freedom, we are in the middle of our spring into action, eight-week program. And week two was all around gentle nutrition. And this is so painful because it can’t be understated that for so many of us, the biggest reasons why we’re struggling with our relationship with food, our weight, our relationship with our body is because of this, like decades long or lifelong relationships that we’ve had to diets, dieting and diet culture, right?
And so, the hardest part for me is untangling dieting with nutrition. This is, this is like, like, like nutrition does not equal dieting, right? Learning how to, like learning about what foods, like, are good for us from us, not from a standpoint of like, oh, we’ll eat your vegetables, that’s good for you, meaning like what foods make you feel good, how to like combine foods in a way that like, or like, oh, yeah, like if I throw some, you know, some butter in my thing.
So now, like, I feel a little bit more satiated and it tastes better. Now I’m more satisfied, right? Have some protein with this meal. Wow, I feel a little bit more grounded. This meal lasted for five hours instead of an hour and a half. Isn’t that interesting, right? So, pulling apart nutrition and diet culture, I have found, given the fact that I work with women teaching a non-diety approach to weight loss, teaching a way to connect with the body first and foremost, learn from the body and then honor what that body says.
Like if I eat a thing and a minute later, like I’m eating cookies, then a minute later, I’m eating the next sweet thing, then a minute later, then where do we reverse engineer that and start to go, wow, I really felt like shit all day.
Okay, what else could I do instead to nourish myself, to feel better in my body, right? As an example, as an example. So that is, yeah, that’s what we do. That’s what we do. Nutrition does not equal dieting. I want to make sure we really get that down. And diet culture does not own nutrition. And it is in the untangling of this that becomes tricky. And quite frankly, depending on how long you’ve been steeped in diet culture, what we might end up having to do in terms of strategy is we spend a lot more time not thinking about diet culture.
I’ll do what I want, eat it my whims, F you diet culture. And a lot of people get stuck in that particular thing I think of dieting and diet culture as like the super restrictive part of the pendulum. So, if you move the pendulum way over here, it’s like, just restriction, restriction, right? And then if we go to the other side of that, which is F you diet culture, F you diets, I will eat what I want when I want, you can go suck it. Then we come right over here and it feels pretty rebellious.
And, I will say that feels good sometimes, right? It feels good to have that like, yeah, you know, stick my middle finger up and eat whatever I want. But at some point, on either side of that pendulum, it just starts to not feel good, right? Like we’ve already talked about everything that’s wrong with restriction.
But then on the other side of that, when we’re just starting to really not feel good in our body, there has to be that middle ground, that middle ground is what we’re looking for here. And so, and that’s really important to understand that because like, you know, it’s okay to eat a donut, right?
So, diet culture will be like, don’t ever eat a donut, don’t ever eat a donut, it’s like, okay, fine, if I want a donut, I can have a donut. But you know what else I could also have? I could also have like some vegetables and salad and like a meal, right? Right? So, like, it’s not like, it’s not like if you decide to eat healthy, oh no, now I’m going down the diet culture, you know, rabbit hole.
And then if I’m deciding to eat a donut, and now I’m just like, F you dieting, I’m going to eat whatever I want, they’re really, really, really, really is a middle ground. And I think that that’s super important to hear and understand. And getting out of diet culture and getting away from dieting can feel really scary for some people because it’s the only thing you’ve known, it’s only thing you’ve known is counting points and the only thing you’ve known is, you know, never eating a carb or making them wrong or all these other things.
But there is a thing called nutritional science and it is, you know, diet culture doesn’t own it. And whenever we are able to kind of look through the lens of, you know, I have a human body, how can I take the best care of my human body? And how can I do this in a in a in a nice way that doesn’t feel so all or nothing, in a way that’s not going to shame myself because I eat a donut, or put me on a pedestal because I eat a salad, right?
Or opposite of that, now, where I don’t feel like I’m scared that I popped back into diet culture just because I’m craving vegetables, right? So, it’s kind of like both and you can kind of hear how I mean, the untangling of this is it’s not just some like easy thing. Okay, fine, I guess I’ll stop dieting. What’s next? It really is and has been for so many of us, it lends from which we see our own bodies, our own food decisions.
We’ve seen them as good or bad or right or wrong, and then the negative self-talk ensues. And it’s the lens from which we see the rest of the world. We see some, you know, skinny model who is genetically just, you know, seven foot tall and really, you know, wafie and frail. And then we think that that we’re not okay, because our bodies don’t look that way.
And so, I guess what I want you to take away from this today is, well, hopefully, I’ve given you enough evidence to like exit diet culture forever. If you need help with that, hello bodyfreedom.com forward slash chat with Audra will help you with that. But at the end of the day, like, when do you just start liking your body now? When do you just make the decision that I am exiting diet culture in a way that says, I’m going to start liking myself right now, right?
Effing now exactly how I am I’m going to start being nice to myself being kind of myself and not beating myself up. So just think about that. Your right now body. Maybe it is pre diabetic. Maybe it is diabetic. Maybe you’re dealing with SIBO leaky gut, right? IBS all 20 extra pounds, 100 extra pounds, whatever it might be, what if in whatever situation circumstance, I’m in menopause, my belly is getting fat because of menopause, all the things that we say to ourselves that make our bodies not okay.
What if we just decided I’m okay? This is me I will never have another body for the rest of my damn life. This is it. I’m going to start liking you right now. Exactly how you are exactly how your health is exactly where your weight is exactly where your, your like sugar addiction is, whatever it might be, like just say, I got you I want to build a better relationship with you. Full stop period.
Now, can you see the possibility? And this is where diet culture, that black and white perfectionistic thinking really has a grip of a lot of people because I’m literally asking you to try to do two things at once I’m saying, can you truly drop into I got me? This is my now body and I’m going to honor and respect my now body as best I can.
And at the same time, whatever I want to do to improve my health, to lose weight in a sustainable non-diety way, to move my body more, to sleep more, to do better, to take care of my body, I’m going to be able to hold both of these things I’m going to say, I got me. I’m perfect. I am good right now. Right now, I’m going to honor and respect my body and at the same exact time, me doing these things for my body is out of love, honor, reverence, respect, because I do want to feel better, because I do want to feel healthy. I get to like myself now and I get this at the same time. Mind blown.
So that’s all I have for you today. I hope you guys have enjoyed this lovely thing I’m probably going to turn this into a podcast because this is some good shit. And reach out if you have any questions. We are, we are, oh man. Well, we are, just if we are a week or so away from starting up a new free challenge.
So, for those of you who are new into my world and you want to come play with our free challenge, I would love to have you there. And it’s so good to see everybody here. I’m glad you guys have here participating and absolutely.
Everybody has a beautiful rest of your day. Thank you for coming and I will see you next week as usual. Bye everybody.