Something I’ve learned over the last few years and more so in recent months, is that you can’t fight diet culture. Really, you can’t. You can try, but I’ve come to learn that when you have resistance to something, when you give your energy toward something, anything, it only continues to produce more of it.
My strategy for my own recovery from diet culture, after many failed attempts at fighting it, was to let it be. I chose to become an observer of my actions and thoughts and instead of resisting/fighting/challenging them, I accepted them. I saw them, I understood where they came from, and I let it be. Instead of fighting, I let the actions/behaviors and thoughts become meaningless.
I don’t mean to say that I didn’t have to stop the behaviors, because I did, but I did it with a sense of ease and understanding. When I chose to observe the behaviors and thoughts instead of reacting to them, I was able to diminish their illusion of importance. This didn’t happen over night. It came in time. Time spent unraveling my beliefs about food, bodies and life, and time spent cultivating new values and beliefs that supported the life I ultimately wanted to live.
After recovering, I initially found myself wanting to fight diet culture in order to help those affected and to prevent our future children from growing up in it, but I very quickly realized I wasn’t getting anywhere.
People don’t want you to talk them out of their diets. People don’t want to hear you tell them that they’re hurting themselves and that they deserve to be happy in their own skin. Not unless they’re looking to hear it.
Shouting from the rooftops at people who don’t want to hear it is only going make people tune you out or try to have you committed. In the same way that fighting with your spouse will only lead to more anger, more yelling and more hurt, meeting anything you oppose with force will only lead to more of it.
If you want diet culture to end, if you want, as I do, for everyone to be able to be happy and comfortable in their own skins, free of judgement, shame, guilt and suffering, you have to stop giving your energy to it. Observe it, see it for what it is, then let it go. Stop engaging with it.
The very famous Ghandi quote, as cliche as it may be, to be the change you want to be, is exactly what we need to do. We need to lay down our swords, and be the change. We have to be inclusive. We have to not judge or label. We have to love, support and respect each other and let everyone be just as they choose to be, without fear or needless suffering.
The more of us who choose to stop playing the diet culture game, the less energy it has, and it will die.
Disclaimer: I am not a therapist or medical professional. This is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any illnesses and should not be seen as a substitute for professional help or delay you in seeking treatment. I share my experiences here in hopes of helping others, but I absolutely encourage you to seek professional help for your struggles.