What You Need to Know About Diet Culture in 2019

It’s the new year, which means the diet/“wellness” industry is doing its usual full-court press.

It does this because it has to, because the marketing that gyms and diet programs and “wellness protocols” do in January pays their bills (or at least a huge chunk of them) for the rest of the year.

That marketing can be hard to resist, even if you’re really committed to recovery from diet culture. I get how hard it is not to get tempted, and I used to feel that way every January, too. But here’s what I want you to know:

If the diet/“wellness” industry wants to make money—and of course it does, to the tune of more than $648 billion—it not only has to snare as many buyers as possible this month, but it also has to sell a product that doesn’t work, that won't produce long-term results.

Otherwise, everyone would lose weight, decide they were done with all the diets and “eating plans” and “protocols” because they had “succeeded,” and move on, never to give the industry another dime for the rest of their lives.

So the only way to ensure that the money keeps rolling in is to sell faulty products, and then insist that the consumers are the ones who failed, rather than the product itself.

That’s how the diet/“wellness” industry functions.

The secret to its enormous revenue is that diets and “lifestyle changes” and other forms of The Wellness Diet were never meant to actually accomplish the thing they promise to do.

Remember that the next time you see an ad or social-media post promising weight loss.

Remember that this huge, wildly successful money machine WOULD NOT EXIST without consumers being sold false promises over and over again, only to be told it’s their own fault that the product didn’t work as advertised.

That’s one of diet culture’s signature moves—to blame us for its failures. And it’s hard to escape that message, because it’s everywhere.

Especially if you live in a body that’s marginalized, where your access to spaces, services, and opportunities is limited, it’s all too easy to believe that the lack of access is your fault—that you should change yourself in order to fit the “norm.”

When it comes to body size, that’s exactly what diet culture tries to instill in all of us from day one, preaching that if you’re bigger than the societal “ideal,” then it’s your responsibility to shrink yourself to fit.

But that’s nothing more than a lie designed to keep us buying diet culture’s shoddy products, and keep us oppressed.

Your body is NOT the problem at all, and it doesn’t need “fixing”—it’s diet culture’s belief system that needs an overhaul, because it’s outdated, unjust, and just plain wrong.

It isn’t your job to “fit” the world, but for spaces, services, and opportunities to be designed to accommodate the vast diversity of bodies that has always existed and will always exist, as long as there are human beings on this planet.

As therapist Sonalee Rashatwar, my guest on this week’s episode of Food Psych, puts it: “It’s not your body that’s wrong, it’s the world that’s wrong.”

Sonalee joined me to talk about the problems with being policed and blamed for your body size, the non-consensual nature of dieting for many kids, how weight gets treated as a marker of class status and cultural assimilation, how gender identity changes people’s relationships with food, and lots more.

Plus, I answer a listener question about whether there are any reasons to focus on fullness other than fatphobia.

Check it out right here, and be sure to subscribe to the podcast so that you never miss an episode.

Here’s to holding your ground against diet culture, this month and all year long,


P.S. If you’re ready to get some support in breaking free from diet culture this year, come join my intuitive eating online course. You'll become part of an incredible community dedicated to helping you make peace with food and your body—so that you can reclaim your right to focus on the things that truly matter to you in life.

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