The more time we spend online, it seems there’s an increase in fad diets and body comparisons, making diet culture more prevalent.
But what exactly is diet culture?
Social Influences Causing Damage
Sadly, diet culture means putting the importance of one’s weight above their mental well-being and health (4). One way it’s portrayed is by equating weight to health, and determining one’s worthiness based on their weight. Another form would be telling people what, how, and when to eat their food (1,2). As well, diet culture can be used to oppress certain groups of people based on their body size (2). Diet culture can have harmful consequences, such as disordered eating (1), detrimental effects on mental health, and lead people to having negative relationships with food. For these reasons, many health practitioners have moved towards the movement of Health at Every Size (HAES), and you should too.
What’s Health at Every Size?
Health at Every Size is an inclusive movement that supports people of all sizes, age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, socioeconomic class, and religion to practice self-love and healthy behaviours. The three principles HAES focuses on are respect, critical awareness, and compassionate self-care: Respect is based on acknowledging the diversity of all people and body sizes, shapes and forms; critical awareness is based on acknowledging one’s knowledge and experience with their bodies and challenging information that we have seen in the past as well as cultural assumptions; lastly, compassionate self-care is based on listening to your internal hunger and satiety cues while finding enjoyable ways to stay active (3).
By viewing your body and overall health from this perspective, it provides a greater amount of social support and helps people to see themselves as more than their weight or to feel the need to look a certain way (6). Below are ways to practice Health at Every Size in your everyday life.
Tips to implement Health at Every Size...
- Practice intuitive eating (4,5,6)
- Listen to your hungry cues, eat slowly, enjoy your food and stop eating when you are full
- Find something active that you love to do and change your mindset on exercise (5)
- Remember that exercise is not punishment, but should be enjoyed. Find something active that you have fun doing
- Speak to a healthcare professional and people you trust (4)
- Talk to a dietitian or healthcare professional that specializes in HAES and can help you through your journey
- Follow accounts that implements HAES principles
- Join HAES groups on Facebook to continue growing a support network and follow accounts that help you with self-love
- Continue to change your view of yourself remembering that your worth is more than your weight or physical attributes
Our bodies come in different shapes and sizes and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. We should be striving to live our lives to the fullest, rather than worry about a number on a scale. Social media can be a powerful influence but we should never let anyone tell us we’re not worthy because of our body size.
Written by: Elena Kwan
Edited by: Evelyn Wong
- Chastain , Ragen. “Recognizing and Resisting Diet Culture.” National Eating Disorders Association, 2 May 2019, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/recognizing-and-resisting-diet-culture.
- Harrison, Christy. “What Is Diet Culture?” Christy Harrison - Intuitive Eating Dietitian, Anti-Diet Author, & Health at Every Size Advocate - Food Psych Programs, Christy Harrison - Intuitive Eating Dietitian, Anti-Diet Author, & Health at Every Size Advocate - Food Psych Programs, 10 Aug. 2018, christyharrison.com/blog/what-is-diet-culture.
- “Health at Every Size®.” Health At Every Size Community Resources, haescommunity.com/.
- Leon, Erica. “What Is Diet Culture and Why Should We Challenge It?” Erica Leon Nutrition, 8 July 2020, ericaleon.com/2019/10/12/what-is-diet-culture/.
- Moubarak , Cristel. “5 Steps to Start Loving YourSELF Today with HAES.” NutriFoodie, 19 May 2020, nutrifoodie.ca/2018/11/06/how-to-start-loving-your-size-and-yourself-today/.
- Penney, Tarra L., and Sara F. L. Kirk. “The Health at Every Size Paradigm and Obesity: Missing Empirical Evidence May Help Push the Reframing Obesity Debate Forward.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 105, no. 5, May 2015, pp. 38–42., doi:10.2105/ajph.2015.302552.