Cultural messages around food, beauty, and appearance shift over time and from culture to culture. In the United States, the conversation surrounding food, weight, and diets has changed rapidly with the popularity of social media. While there is still immense pressure for most people to fit into a specific beauty standard, more and more people are talking about harmful, damaging messages they’ve learned from society about eating and dieting.
Everyone has to eat. Eating enough food is essential to give your body energy, and finding ways to eat a balanced diet while avoiding harmful messages about food can be difficult. While in past decades, the focus was primarily on weight loss and appearance, many people today are trying to have a healthier relationship with food and their bodies. If you’re looking for tips on improving your relationship with food and combating harmful messages, check out this guide. If you are interested in extra support, contact a healthcare expert.
The Importance Of Working With Professionals
While the tips in this article are meant to act as guidelines, they aren’t a substitute for professional advice. You can use these tips to find resources or learn ways to connect with others who are also unlearning these harmful diet culture messages. However, professionals are your best bet to get assistance with mental health or physical health problems surrounding food.
With that in mind, let’s jump into ways to improve our relationship with food and counteract damaging messages.
Consider Working With A Therapist
One of the best ways to work through various traumas and issues surrounding food and health is to find a trained therapist specializing in eating disorders. This is especially important for those who deal with eating disorders.
Even people who don’t have significant concerns about their relationship with food may benefit from the help of a counselor. These mental health professionals can assist with various anxieties, traumas, or upsetting feelings.
Watch Your Social Media Content
Social media can be both a negative and a positive when it comes to messages surrounding health and wellness. On the one hand, you may find creators making videos and posts that inspire you to feel good about yourself and live a healthy, balanced life. On the other hand, some influencers and creators can promote toxic messages that lead to shame and judgment.
So, being mindful of what you watch and read on social media is important. You want to ensure it isn’t negatively impacting your physical, mental, or emotional well-being. You want to be careful of what messages you’re receiving surrounding body image.
Think About Your Language
The way we talk about various issues makes a significant impact on how we feel about them. Growing up in American culture makes it difficult not to internalize harmful messages about dieting. Perhaps you talk about food as a guilty pleasure or assume that some foods are “good,” while others are “bad.” While you may have heard these terms and phrases from other places, you can investigate the language you use surrounding eating and dieting.
Changing how you talk about these things can improve your relationships with your body and make you feel more optimistic. You can have these discussions with others in your life and encourage them to make these changes alongside you.
Build Positive Communities
While trying to unlearn harmful dieting and body image messages is challenging, you don’t have to do it alone. You’ll find more positive results and feel better about yourself if you find communities to support you. Luckily, some of these communities already exist online.
For example, you can find support groups for all kinds of issues surrounding body positivity and healthy body image online. So, it can help to search to find the online spaces that support you.
If you prefer to meet with people in person, see if there are any meet-ups in your area. You might find workshops that promote a healthy, balanced approach to eating and living a healthy life.
Finally, you can talk to your family and friends about this aspect of your life. While some may not support you, others will likely be receptive to the idea of unlearning their own harmful beliefs around diet culture.
You can discuss these issues and support each other in more positive thinking that encourages health and focuses less on appearance.
Understand That It’s A Process
When you’re working on undoing damaging messages about diet culture and body image, you might feel overwhelmed. After all, you’ve probably heard some rather skewed or negative things about the way you or others look, and you may have been inundated with these messages since childhood.
What we absorb from our culture and society is sometimes very good and useful, but at other times, it can have the opposite impact. So, you shouldn’t blame yourself if you are dealing with a negative body image or still internalizing harmful dieting messages.
Instead of beating yourself up, remember that it takes time. You may have to relearn how you relate to your body and food. This isn’t going to happen overnight. At times, you may feel guilt, shame, sadness, or even anger. Let these feelings ebb and flow and try not to force yourself to feel one way or another.
If you feel distressed or need extra support, remember that a therapist or other professionals can assist you.
Concluding Thoughts On Diet Culture
While everyone’s relationships with food and body image are unique, societal and cultural factors do play a big part in how we all perceive our appearance and the appearance of others. Remember to be gentle with yourself as you assess your relationship with food, and always seek the help of professionals when you need support.
With the right resources and finding the necessary support you need, you’ll be able to work through the harmful messages you’ve internalized and feel more positively about yourself and others.