The constant narrative we are fed by a diet culture fueled society praises what is essentially compulsive exercise and restrictive eating- two of the key symptoms of an eating disorder.
‘Don’t stop when it hurts, stop when you’re done.’
‘No Pain, No gain.’
‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.’
‘You’re bored, not hungry.’
I have nothing against quotes, in fact, I think they are great, when created responsibly with the goal to inspire. But the above quotes certainly do not inspire us to feel good about ourselves, the only thing they inspire us to do is to fear our bodies- to not trust the very thing that is keeping us alive.
We are told to ignore our hunger cues, to suppress our appetite with water because, ‘we’re not really hungry, we’re just bored, or thirsty.’ But what if we are hungry? Diet culture, in these cases, wants us to go against everything our body wants. It convinces us that we will only be happy if we follow what it says. But from experience, I know that that happiness will never come. It might arrive for a fleeting moment, but then it will be gone, and we will be left feeling either hungry, or dissatisfied. Most likely, we will be left feeling both.
So why, when eating disorders claim the most lives of any mental illness, are quotes like these allowed to be published? Why are they so easily viewable across social media for already vulnerable people to see? It is not right. Anything promoting disordered eating or dysfunctional relationships with exercise, should be banned. Because, the reality is, eating disorders kill, and the heart-breaking thing is, many deaths could have been/can be prevented, if only more people fought/fight to dismantle diet culture once and for all.
We need to unlearn everything that diet culture has convinced us to be true, and learn to listen to our bodies again, because they are so much smarter than any of us can possibly imagine, and they are working so hard to keep us all alive.
A reminder for us all;
- If we are doing a workout and we feel tired halfway through, it is okay to have a little break.
- We can stop when it hurts.
- If we have just eaten dinner and we are craving something sweet afterwards, it is okay for us to go back to the kitchen and get some chocolate.
- Chocolate tastes so much better than ‘skinny’ will ever feel.
- We do not have to be feeling physically hungry to eat.
- We can eat whenever we want.
When we take away diet culture, there are no rules.