I felt for a long time that I’ve been an advocate for body positivity but I failed epically in my advocacy and I need to address it. The language that I have used in posts when talking about healthy eating or diets has been extremely toxic and I need to apologize for that.
To anyone I may have harmed with the toxic diet culture language I’ve used. I apologize and I’m learning how to erase that language from my vocabulary. This type of language should not be normalized and I need to work on educating myself further in this subjects
While not an excuse I’ve realized through reflection that the abused become the abuser in my case and in regards to toxic diet culture.
My Relationship With My Body
Growing up there were a lot of members in my family who were overweight and had health problems. My mom has Type 1 Diabetes, grandparents had Type 2 Diabetes, we have high blood pressure, and a whole host of health concerns.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s when I was growing up I was consistently told to watch what I eat, portion control everything and choose healthier options. I grew up with a constant need to watch my sugar intake because my grandmother was terrified of diabetes.
Yet this is the same woman who taught me how to wrap up cinnamon rolls from Old Country Buffet and sneak them into your purse. Make it make sense.
I remember talking one day with my mom about a diet I wanted to go on because it was the same diet a magazine had printed. It was a low carb, high protein diet, and I was 16 years old.
In this conversation my mom told me that all I really needed to do was to watch my portion controls. That while we have a family history of obesity that with portion control and exercise we could prevent ourselves from having the same problems.
Still, my teen years were set in the era of hip huggers, thongs, and crop tops. The only people who were allowed to wear such a thing were super skinny people. If you dared to wear anything skin tight your stomach pooch was immediately pointed out.
Terms like “muffin top” were constantly said and the need to workout like Britney or Christina in order to achieve perfect abs was required. I spent most of my teen years being painfully aware that I just couldn’t get it together enough to look perfect.
In My 20’s
By my 20’s I finally learned to be comfortable with the fact that I would never be a size zero. I have big hips, thunder thighs, and a big booty. I also had D cup boobs. I was curvy so I stopped wearing what was in style and instead found things that worked for my body, showed off my curves, while being sure to hide my natural stomach rolls.
However, I dreamed of losing that extra 10 lbs that had me in the overweight section of the BMI. I practiced yoga, danced, walked on a treadmill, ate salads, did protein shakes, counted calories, and did it all.
I was not healthy, my knees hurt, my back hurt, I was tired, and I had some of my worst depression as my weight had fluctuated through relationships, marriage, divorce, and single life. Sure my glow up was pretty great and I got down to 170 lbs for being a 5’9’’ curvy woman. But the BMI still said I was overweight and it devastated me.
Pregnancy and Early 30’s
I spent my 30th birthday enjoying my first trimester of pregnancy in all it’s morning sickness, boob soreness, and back pain glory. Throughout my pregnancy the doctors warned me about eating too much since I was overweight according to the BMI.
They told me I shouldn’t gain too much weight. Let’s just say I ignored them. I happily gained 40 pounds during my entire pregnancy. I also had gestational diabetes so I would combat my eating by taking plenty of walks and staying as active as I could.
I watched my blood sugars and when I noticed I was a little high I would dance around in the living room or take a walk. An hour later my blood sugar would be back in the normal range and it was all good. The doctors didn’t need to prescribe insulin for me because I was pretty good about controlling my blood sugars with what I ate and activities.
I gave birth to a 7 lbs 1 ounce absolutely perfect baby boy. Three days later I could fit into my old jeans, while a little tight the fact that I fit into them in three days made me feel great.
But that was about it. I lost 20lbs and never the additional 20lbs I had gained through pregnancy. I walked, had an active job, watched what I ate, and continued to struggle with my weight. I was 200 lbs and on the edge of obesity in that damn BMI scale.
Mid 30’s to Today
I am currently 36 years old and finally realizing that I have lived most of my life with a toxic mindset on what it takes to be healthy and feel good in your body. I’ve gained an additional 50 lbs during the pandemic lock down and over the past few months have been struggling with diet ideas.
Should I go low carb? Should I go vegan again? Should I just eat only healthy foods and get rid of anything unhealthy? Should I just eat as I do and exercise more?
What I did notice though was I no longer felt unhealthy, even though I supposedly looked it. My back hurts from time to time, but I’m a double D now of course my back hurts every now and then. However, my knees no longer hurt. Sure I get out of breath when walking the hills of Pittsburgh, but I can still walk them.
Did I need to go on a diet when I was finally feeling ok, even if I didn’t look like society says we should look?
The Comment That Rocked My Mindset
Then I saw the comment that would change my entire perspective on a post on this blog. “So much toxic diet culture language in this post.”
I was absolutely shocked. I never intended to have any post of mine be toxic. I try to be inclusive, sensitive, and aware of everything. What was I missing?
I looked up the phrase toxic diet culture language. I read article after article and realized that I was problematic and I needed to do something about it quickly.
I immediately went through that post and tried to edit it in a way that was encouraging instead of perpetuating diet culture. I’m pretty positive that I’m still failing because it still has an emphasis on eating healthily. To be honest, I will probably end up just rewriting the post to focus on homemade and just remove all of the healthy eating language from it entirely.
However, this made me stop and reflect on why I was this way. Why I put such an emphasis on healthy eating, dieting, and why I used this language.
My Unhealthy Mind Set
I realized that it was my own unhealthy mindset with what is healthy, what is necessary, what looks best, and societal standards that lead me down this path. What’s worse is while I support any person’s decision to do what is best for their body I was still using language that did the opposite of that.
I potentially caused harm for people who have eating disorders, health concerns, or face food insecurity by perpetuating diet culture language. I am sorry about that and I will continue to educate myself to make the changes that are necessary not just to change my mind but to help educate others too.
It all starts with me and in my home and personal life though. I am removing the word diet from my vocabulary. I will no longer subject myself to toxic language that has quite frankly left me feeling insecure, lacking confidence, and always leaving me feeling like I needed to fix my physical appearance.
Resources For Others
As with anything if I am learning to do something that might make the world a bit of a better and more inviting place I will try to share my findings with you all. Below are just some of the articles that I read to help me understand what diet culture is and how it negatively affects people.
- A Handy Guide To The Toxic Language Of Diet Culture
- Tips To Help Swerve Toxic Diet Talk
- How To Respond To Diet Talk
- ‘Food Guilt’ Is Toxic To Truly Healthy Eating – Here’s How To Start Changing That For Good
How I’m Rephrasing My Self Talk
As with every major mindset change there has to be changes made in my personal life. I’ve realized there is toxic language in our everyday conversation around food that needs to change. Below are some of our most used phrases and how we are going to change what we say to help improve our overall relationship with food, weight, and eating.
“I want to be bad tonight.”
This is our way of saying we want to order a pizza or order our food for delivery for dinner. However, eating take out is not bad or makes us bad. So instead we are saying, “I want convenient food tonight.”
By saying what we mean instead of saying we are being bad is the first change. We want convenient take out food because we won’t need to cook or clean up loads of dishes and pans afterwards.
“I want this but I shouldn’t have it.”
Why not? If you want something go ahead and eat that. Enjoy the food you are eating instead of trying to make yourself feel bad about eating something you enjoy. Instead we are trying, “I’d like to enjoy X snack.”
“I don’t like – insert healthy food here – but I should eat this.”
I do not like the taste of whole wheat pasta – it tastes like cardboard to me. So why do I choose to eat that instead of what I actually enjoy? We are taking away the “should eat” and eating what we enjoy so long as what we enjoy makes us feel good.
“I need to lose weight.”
Instead of obsessing over the number on the scale we are rephrasing our language to reflect what we want our bodies to accomplish. “I want to be able to do this yoga position.”
Rewording our language makes it more motivating than feeling bad about where we currently are. It gives us an actual goal to reach without ever feeling like we are failing or not getting there fast enough. As you work on achieving a certain physical capability you can feel you stretching further, being less winded, or feeling stronger.
On The Blog
As I learn, I will be addressing posts here on my blog to fix them. While I made some preliminary changes to most of my posts that address healthy eating I am positive I’m not getting it completely right just yet.
Removing a lifetime of toxic language, mindsets, and thought processes can be a bit of a process but it’s absolutely achievable and something I am 100% committed to doing. If you notice a post with toxic language and feel inclined to help me make those changes you are more than welcome to help me through the process by leaving a comment.
I am grateful to that commenter for giving me a chance to learn, grow, and be better. Not just to myself but to help others be kinder to their own selves. As I continue to read, listen, and learn I will gladly update this post with more helpful content. I will also continue to change the way I address true healthy eating and healthy living.
Have you removed toxic diet culture from your life? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below. Follow us on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite self care boards.