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5 Ways to Reject Diet Culture This Thanksgiving and Holiday Season

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

The holiday season is finally here, and with it comes plenty of delicious food — and an abundance of diet culture. Amidst the Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas cookies are a multitude of messages that we need to skimp on and “sweat off” all of our favorite holiday goodies. If you’re tired of internalizing these harmful beliefs and want to truly enjoy food, here are five ways to reject diet culture this holiday season.

1. Remember that all types of food help your body function.

Diet culture messaging may sound convincing, but it hides an important truth — your body needs all types of foods to function properly. Carbohydrates provide energy, proteins help build muscle and fats provide for your body’s organs. Without any of these essential food groups in your food, you’ll feel sluggish, unmotivated and sick. So before you put down those Christmas cookies, remember that they’re fueling your body — not harming it.

2. Read books about how diet culture harms our society.

If you have time off work or school for Thanksgiving or Christmas, use your break to read up on how diet culture hurts everyone in our society. There are plenty of great books out there that expose the dark side of diet culture and encourage intuitive eating, like Jenna Hollenstein’s “Eat to Love” and Susan Kano’s “Making Peace With Food.” Once you read about how diet culture has negatively affected your food choices, you might be more willing to eat that second serving of mashed potatoes you’re craving.

3. Take an “anti-diet” challenge.

The holiday season is full of weight-loss challenges, dieting tips and opportunities to “exercise away” your favorite foods. But what if you choose to challenge yourself to not cave into diet culture messaging? Instead of counting steps or calories, challenge yourself to stop looking at labels and constantly weighing yourself. Keep track of how many days you can go without criticizing your body, saying “no” to your favorite foods or stepping on the scale. You’ll feel proud to know that you’ve reached a healthy goal, and you can even reward yourself with a favorite food or activity when your challenge ends!

4. Try an anti-diet social media cleanse.

Social media is a haven for pro-diet culture messaging, “thinspiration” posts and intense exercise regimens.  This holiday season, unfollow anyone who doesn’t promote body positivity, and unlike pages that preach the “benefits” of fad diets.  Instead, follow body-positive accounts, like @bodyposipanda, @i_weigh and @projectheal. Once you clear the diet culture clutter out of your newsfeed, you’ll develop a better understanding of the problems diet culture creates and feel inspired to begin to love your own body.

5. Educate others about the dangers of diet culture.

With family holiday celebrations in full swing, the holiday season is a prime time to hear negative body comments, workout plans and dieting goals. Take this opportunity to educate family and friends about how comments about weight, diet and body type affect you and others, especially if you’re in recovery from an eating disorder. Communicating openly about how harmful diet culture-influenced remarks hurt us all can help you find the support you need and remind your family that they can enjoy their ham, pie and cookies without guilt this holiday season.

A version of this article was previously published on Thought Catalog.

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Originally published: November 20, 2020
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