Living A Balanced Lifestyle vs. Diet Culture

I exited diet culture not that long ago.I have passed the withdrawal stage now and I’m in full recovery. It took me a long time to get here. I have been dieting on and off since I was about 15. 15! 

I have never been “skinny” and I battled with my weight for a good portion of my life. The funny thing is, looking back at old photos of me when I was younger I notice now that I looked fine. It was society that was telling me that I was “fat”, that the size I was, and the way I looked wasn’t enough.

I’m tired of resting all my self worth on the size of my jeans or the number on the scale. I don’t feel like myself when I’m on these diets. It’s almost as if I’m trying to be someone I am not.

I found this photo from my second or third trip to Ireland. Look at the big smile on my face! I was just so happy to be exploring a country I love so much. I wasn’t concerned at how big my thighs looked or if you could see my stomach. I was free and happy. ⁠⁠

Maybe it’s my age, but I just don’t care anymore. I love food so I am going to eat it. I am going to listen to my body and give it what it needs to survive. I know what foods make me feel ill and what makes me feel great.

Below are a few reasons why I think living a balanced lifestyle and loving yourself for who you are at any stage is better than any diet. 

Good Food vs. Bad Food

No food is “good” or “bad”. Foods don’t have morals. It is us who put such labels as “good” or “bad” on them. When we do this we feed into the myth that eliminating a certain food group or groups will lead to weight loss when really there is so much more to it. 

The books you see in this photo are some books I have used for diets and others that have helped me with food allergies in the past. I am working on an elimination diet for eczema and I am using these books to help me make my meal plans.

People looking to lose weight may remove things like fat or carbs from their diet. While eating too much fat may affect your health, eating too little fat is also just as bad.  According to in the article
The Top 20 Biggest Nutrition Myths:

“Dietary fat is essential for optimal health. Low fat diets have been linked to a greater risk of health issues.”

It all depends on the fats you are eating on a regular basis. Many high fat foods are extremely nutritious and not to mention tasty! The same can also be said about carbs.

Living on a restrictive diet is no way to live.  Want that slice of pizza? Have it. If you can eat a certain food, then you should if you want it. It’s all about listening to your body and balance. If you take the time to listen to your body, it will tell you what it wants and needs.

Diet Culture Perpetuates The Yo-yo Diet Cycle

I have struggled with my relationship with food for a long time. I have been on every diet imaginable. From juice cleanses and Slim Fast to Summersize and the paleo diet. Some worked, some were awful, and some weren’t so bad. The one thing they all have in common is that they worked and then they didn’t, either because they were unsustainable, or once you stopped the weight would come right back on. 

It would  be better for your mental health, self image, and overall health if you developed a better and kinder relationship with food.

This relationship has come a long way. I love food. In the past it was a love/hate relationship. Now I celebrate food. I cook almost all my meals and when I sit down to eat I do my best to eat mindfully. I also remember that not everyday will be filled with deeply nutritious foods. There will be days where I want to enjoy a basket of wings and blue cheese sauce paired with a cider. It is important to keep a balance of foodstuffs that are tasty and good for us with other things that may not be so great for us. Life is too short to live in deprivation and the cycles of guilt brought on from diet culture.

Diet Culture Is not Necessarily Inclusive To diets From Other Cultures 

My parents are Colombian and they have always shared their love of #colombianfood . When eating at home growing up we rarely ate out or did takeout. We always ate food my parents grew up on. It was clean food. Nothing came from a box and it was filling.

This photo was taken before the first lockdown happened in 2020 and we were still able to see my parents. My mom cooked this meal. It’s grilled pork with rice, salad, 1/4 of an avocado and fried plantains. It is packed with flavour and nutrition. 

In the past it was harder to find foods that came from a variety of cultures in weight loss plans. Things are coming around with the inclusion of Southeast Asian foods and Mexican cuisine  but I think more can be done. There are so many cultures with so many different foods. Embracing foods from different cultures is important. The variety of flavour and flavour combinations available out there are endless and can only enrich our palate.  There is so much flavour and nutrition packed into diets from around the world. 

A plate of golden curry from Thailand. Photo by Paul Rogers on Unsplash

The takeaway here is that diet culture can be restrictive in flavours and culinary diversity. We can learn a lot about food and flavour combinations from other cultures’ diets. It is good to explore what other cultures have to offer in order to expand your arsonal of meals and get more out of them and life. 

Diets Fail At lLong Term Weight Loss Or Change 

Most diets are not sustainable because they consist of temporary changes. You eat a certain way for a certain amount of days and you will lose weight. Then you have to go into the world and all its scenarios and try to eat the same way. You are bound to “fall off the wagon” and then feel guilty for doing so. It’s not you, it’s the way these diets are created. You can’t live in “diet” mode your whole life. You are bound to be in a situation that will test you but why should you stress out about it? The guilt and stress are not worth it. 

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

I have struggled with portion control in the past. Diets telling me to eat a certain amount of food in a certain amount of portions a day have plagued me. I have learned that you don’t have to deprive yourself. You eat the food you love while making sure you get your fruits and vegetables. No looking at portions. Just eating a balanced diet and eating mindfully. It’s about enjoying the food and the experience, along with the company you are with. 

Diet Culture Focuses On Changing Oneself Over Loving Yourself First

We are constantly being told that we have to look a certain way to be accepted by society. Diet culture feeds into this by focusing on the things we need to change. The human race is filled with so much diversity. It is impossible to meet these standards. Why must we change who we are for society? If I’ve learned anything in this life it’s that you can be “skinny” and be unhealthy and you can be”fat” and be completely healthy. Our weight and the shape of our body does not determine our overall health or worth. Love yourself for who you are right now. That is the first step in living a balanced lifestyle

It has taken me a long time to get here. Those of you who follow me on instagram (@cookiesandcreato) know that I am currently on an elimination diet to get rid of eczema. I am working on eating to heal me from the inside out. This eczema is slow to disappear so I’m going to give my body what it needs to get better. I am going to work on removing some foods for a short while that trigger inflammatory responses in my body. Once my body is back to normal and eczema-free I will slowly bring back these foods and test which ones are causing the reactions. 

I will always choose a balanced lifestyle which is why I will be digging into these Fat Bombs I made today (I will be sharing the recipe next week) along with an almond milk latte. ⁠

I love myself and the body I am in. It has done so much and will continue to do so if I choose to love it and take care of it the right way. 

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