Hi. My name's Alex Light and I am on an anti-diet mission. I am determined to highlight the damage that dieting and diet culture cause to our eating patterns and mental health. To put it simply - diet culture causes eating disorders. It's not the only cause, but it contributes massively. And eating disorders are not fun, to put it lightly. So let's attempt to stop diet culture in its tracks, by eliminating these five damaging diet culture phrases from our vocabulary right now.
1. 'I feel fat'
Unfortunately, in our current culture, the word is synonymous with other derogatory words like ugly, gross, undesirable. But fat is not a feeling – it's a substance, it's a thing. It's also a body type.
By using this word, fat, as a substitute for other negative words, we contribute to the stigmatisation of that body type. Stop saying I feel fat. Stop associating your body with negativity. Change the conversation in your own head, challenge your negative thoughts and try and turn them around.
2. 'OMG you've lost so much weight, you look amazing!'
I can say hand on heart that this contributed massively to my eating disorder. When I lost weight, even when I was barely eating, surviving on bloody boiled sweets, I was told ALL.THE.TIME – omg you look so good! You look amazing, you look like a different person, you're my thinspo. But listen – why is losing weight such a good thing? Why was I not praised nearly as much when I got a cool campaign or my first job?
Diet culture has made us obsessed with weight loss, but we need to undo what we've been taught. Instead, try telling someone they look happy or have a great outfit, or take it away from the physical entirely – tell them you like their laugh, you admire their positive demeanour… You get me?
3. 'I'm eating good foods and getting rid of bad foods'
Stop assigning moral value to foods or food groups – no food is good and no food is bad. Yes, certain types of foods should be consumed more than others, or may have more nutritious value, but none of them have an inherent morality.
Saying foods are good or bad is a quick and easy way to make your relationship with eating and food enter in negative and judgemental territory. Dinner does not need to come served with a side of self-loathing.
4. 'I'm having a cheat day'
No, you're not having a cheat day, you're just having a day. Let's not make bingeing even more of a thing by saying that we need to eat all of the nice things we crave in the space of one day. Eat it when you feel like it.
5. 'It's fine, I'll work it off in the gym tomorrow'
Movement should not be seen as a punishment for eating something you fancied eating. Movement is for SO much more than a way to earn our calories or negate overindulgence - it's for improving strength, flexibility, balance, endurance, mental health.
Peace out, thanks for coming to my Ted talk.