I have had enough of toxic diet culture: It's time to break the cycle
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I have had enough of toxic diet culture: It's time to break the cycle

Diet culture is just the worst.

You’ll have to forgive me for what is about to be a rant, but I need to get out this pent-up RAGE before I actually explode.

Maybe it's controversial to say, but Easter is literally the best holiday of the year. There's nothing not to love about it. It’s in the spring when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming, you don’t have to worry about buying elaborate presents and spending lots of money, you get not one but two bank holiday days off and, of course, you can eat as much chocolate as you want.

So you can imagine my rage as I sat there on Easter Sunday, tucking into a Crème Egg watching one of many bank holiday films on the telly and just really enjoying life, when a leaflet for a diet club came through the door.

Now, I don’t want to name names, but we all know which diet club I’m talking about. And let me tell you I was apoplectic. I can’t even enjoy an Easter egg in the comfort of my own home without diet culture being shoved down my throat.

It's legitimately like I can’t catch a break from being reminded how fat I am. How I should feel ashamed for overindulging and not trying to be skinny? That I should be sitting there like a good fat person and eating an apple while everyone else eats chocolate, and even the faintest whiff of Cadburys should send me to the gym for a hundred burpees.

The weight of diet culture

I hate diet culture. I hate it. As a recovering dieter, it has taken YEARS to undo the trauma that the diet industry inflicted on me. And while I am in a pretty good place right now in terms of body acceptance and self-esteem, it's little things like this that trigger me to such an extent that my husband will go out of his way to throw away any leaflets like this we get through the door.

He wasn’t quick enough for this one, and the sign of that piece of paper was almost enough to ruin my day.

Honestly, what do these people want from me? One day, I just want one day to enjoy a bit of chocolate without feeling bad about myself. I’ve spent so much of my life longing to be thin that I can’t take it any more. Can’t I just have that?

No, of course not. I and everyone else have to be reminded that eating is bad and I am a terrible person for wanting to eat chocolate. I can fill in the blanks on that leaflet, hearing it scream at me “How dare you enjoy the festivities, you’ve clearly overindulged and deserve to feel bad about yourself, so come along to our meeting where you can pay money to feel even worse about yourself as we openly shame you and the arbitrary numbers on your clothes labels.”

Genuinely I’ve had it. The diet industry just needs to die. There's no such thing as good food or bad food. It's all just food. Just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I don't deserve to eat nice things. There is so much more to life than being thin, and honestly if conforming to society's dumb beauty standards means I can never eat a Mini Egg ever again, it's really not worth it!

The effects of toxic dieting

Most of the time I find it so unbelievably sad because I know that there will be people out there who got that same leaflet pushed through the door and will have thought that they shouldn't have eaten that Easter egg. How they really do need to go on a diet because they’ve been so “bad” lately and it just breaks my heart.

All I can think about some days is how one time when I was scrolling Facebook, one time a suggested post came up from a dieting group. Showing a picture of a Cadbury fudge bar, one of the smallest, lowest calorie sweets you can find, that the poster had cut into minuscule slithers in a bowl because they missed dipping into a bag of sweets. I am honestly not exaggerating when I say this picture haunts me. It was just so unbelievably sad, that this poor woman was tormenting herself for not being able to enjoy some chocolate. Or like when Zac Efron had a bowl of pasta on a Netflix documentary that made him cry because for years he’d denied himself carbs to stay in shape for movie roles. An industry that preys on people like this just shouldn’t be allowed. We shouldn’t be demonised for simply eating food.

And why shouldn’t we eat?! Food is wonderful. It’s a beautiful thing that can make so many memories. Whether it's your mum's famous roast dinner she used to make every Sunday, the meal you shared on a first date, or the local cuisine you tried when you were abroad - food can bring people together in a way nothing else can.

Almost every time my Dad pops round for a visit, he’ll bring me a bag of Jelly Tots he bought while he was at the petrol station. And every time he does I could cry from emotion, because he’s thinking of me and remembers they’re my favourite. And if that's not the most beautiful thing I don’t know what is.

But despite the magic that food can do, it's demonised to the point where we’re not allowed to enjoy food, unless, of course, you’re already skinny. If you’re thin you can eat whatever you want and will be praised for doing so (see every “What I eat in a day” video on Tik Tok). But if you don’t conform to society's standard, then that's it, no more eating for you ever!

To live like that is just so unbelievably boring. Life is too short to not enjoy a piece of cake every now and again. It sounds cheesy but I’ve only got one life to live, and there is nothing that is going to stop me from just having some fun.

It has taken a lot of time to get to where I am in terms of my body and my confidence, and I’m not going to let one poxy leaflet undo the years of work I’ve put in to be at peace with my body and my fatness.

So this is my message to the diet club that decided (in what I absolutely believe to be a calculated move) to try and shame me into feeling bad about eating an Easter Egg:

Do one.

1 comment

Eileen OToole

Good post.

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