The Myths of Diet Culture

As the end of this crazy year approaches, many of us will inevitably be drawn to make a balance of the year that just passed.

This process usually highlights our tendency to be very critical and harsh with ourselves, as we tend to concentrate on all the things we didn't achieve and give us very little or no credit for all the things we did achieve.

Frankly speaking, for 2020 in particular, having survived and kept our life more or less together should be rewarded with a nice pat on our shoulder at the very least.


The problem is that most of us will bash themselves instead. Like almost every end of the year and for most people in this country, losing weight will be on the top of the list of the new year's resolutions they failed to achieve.

Have you ever asked yourself why this resolution, in particular, keeps reappearing year after year?

Having helped out so many people to lose weight in the past 20 years, I now have a pretty clear idea of the reasons why that happens. The most important is the way we think of and approach weight loss.





Have you ever heard about "diet culture"?


To simplify, diet culture is a belief system that values body weight, shape, and size over wellbeing. Diet culture principles are often disguised as health principles or concerns when, in fact, they aren't.

The BIG problem here is that we are completely and utterly immersed in this culture, so much so that we might not even realize we're in it.


I made a list of the 5 biggest myths that diet culture has been pushing on us since basically the beginning of the last century.

  1. Weight is an indicator of health. Health is a state that comprises mental, physical, and social wellbeing alongside an absence of illness. Although certain diseases are correlated to weight, like type 2 diabetes or heart disease, we need to understand that correlation doesn't mean causation. This is important because when we feel ashamed of the stigma of weight, we can have psychological problems, higher stress levels, and even show resistance to seek medical help. The only thing that leads to health is a healthy and resilient mind coupled with healthy habits happily maintained over time.

  2. You can lose weight long term with diets. It might surprise you, but science found the opposite to be true. Long term studies have shown that diets (or other lifestyle intervention with the only purpose of losing weight) result in a weight re-gain within 2-5 years.

  3. Sugar/fat/carbs/gluten is bad for you and will make you fat. These are just really names of molecules, and the only problem with them is that we give them a moral value. Sugar, fat, and carbohydrates are necessary for our body to function correctly, including the brain. Fruits and veggies are mostly carbs! We need them as they are the most easily usable form of energy for the body. Your brain is mostly fat, and fat is also essential for the body to function. Of course, it is better to eat these macronutrients from whole foods rather than donuts, but demonizing them is really of no use other than making us feeling ashamed when we eat them. Gluten is not essential to live, true, but neither is terrible for you if you are not diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Moreover, gluten-free doesn't mean healthier as many gluten-free options are much more processed than their gluten-containing counterparts.

  4. Skinny=Happy. The mind is a fascinating thing. Have you ever had a problem or desire for something and then solve it? What did your mind do in a matter of days (if you're lucky) or even minutes afterward? That's right; it found a new desire or a new problem. Losing weight is not different; neither is any external achievement. Happiness is an everyday decision to feel grateful for what's in your life right now, independently from external circumstances.

  5. Shame motivates you to become better. It doesn't. I wrote a whole article about how shame undermines all our efforts to become healthier; you can read it here

Do you think diet culture sneaked into your life without you even realizing it? I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments!

Pssst! I'm going to tell you a secret! If you want to learn how to eat better, that means, in a way that your body and mind love, sign up for my newsletter as I'm coming up with a big surprise in January! 😉




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Viviana Albarracin, HHC, CBP

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