How to Reject Diet Culture

The late, great writer David Foster Wallace told a joke that I think beautifully captures the anti-diet experience:

"There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, 'Morning, boys, how's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?'"

Diet culture is like the water, and most people in our society are like the young fish—they have no idea it's even there. 

Nearly all the messages our society gives us about food, bodies, and health are part of diet culture, but most people just don't see it. And if you point it out to them, they might act incredulous, shocked, or defensive.  

But those of us who are aware of diet culture are like the older (wiser) fish, going against the current and fully aware of what we're swimming around in. 

And truly, being aware of diet culture does feel like swimming upstream a lot of the time. Trying to let go of dieting, tune out all the noise, and learn to trust your body's wisdom about what, when, and how to eat is a radical act in the face of the messages that bombard us on a daily basis. 

So what does it take to be able to reject diet culture? How do we become bold enough to swim upstream? My two most recent guests on Food Psych have some really great answers to these questions.

Lindy West, a brilliant writer, editor, and performer, shares how she overcame her inherent shyness to become one of the most outspoken and celebrated fat-acceptance activists in the world. She also reveals how she's improved her relationship with food, what she's still working on, how she found love without having to change a single thing about her body, and lots more. 

And Virgie Tovar, another incredible lecturer, author, and activist, offers amazing advice gleaned from her experience of making some huge, swimming-upstream changes in her personal life. She also gets into the nuances of feminism, body positivity, and the fat-acceptance movement in a way that's pretty much guaranteed to expand your mind. 

These have been some of our most popular episodes yet, and with good reason—if you haven't tuned in yet, be sure to check them out asap! 

This post was originally published in my weekly email newsletter