Me. Age 11 on the beach with my family when someone points out that I have a belly roll. Maybe I was sitting down, in which case, that would’ve been a completely natural phenomenon unless your abs are concave. I don’t remember. All I remember is standing there in my pink two-piece bathing suit and finding something to hate about my body.
I was a thin kid, muscular and strong. I beat all of my friends in almost any athletic competition and routinely won races. Hell, I even played football with the boys and held my own. The day someone I loved made me question my once capable body was the day that my love-hate relationship began with myself and with diet culture.
What is diet culture? Here is some good information from the National Eating Disorders Association. http://bit.ly/3s6aobo
I won’t bore you with statistics, but it’s important to know that excessive dieting and obsession with your weight is a legitimate eating disorder. Also, intentional weight loss (diets) often results in lowered metabolism and rebound weight gain. 80- 95% gain it back plus more. Attempts to lose weight through traditional dieting also result in mental health complications such as depression and anxiety.
Diet culture is often disguised as “clean” eating or sneakily hidden in “healthy” eating. See orthorexia. (definition here: http://bit.ly/2OQCFEt ) For many years, I engaged in orthorexia, constantly judging and sorting foods into categories of good and “evil.” It should go without saying that food can not be inherently evil, but for the sake of this article, evil foods were those that were high in calories, carbs, fat and lacking in nutritional value.
There were times during my adolescence and teen years when I tried to practice body acceptance, but my attempts were quickly shot down by fatphobics in my family and among friends. My best friend in high school referred to me as “chunky.” I remember thinking that “chunky” was a cute way of saying “fat.” Whether I…