Author: Justine Rickard M.A.
International No Diet Day takes place annually on May 6th with the intention of promoting awareness of the harms of dieting on mental and physical health and wellbeing. It is a day to call out Diet Culture’s oppressive and destructive ways and to celebrate body acceptance, size diversity, weight and food neutrality, and to share information and resources that offer individual’s a way to opt out of the harmful diet-centred narrative.
In their 2022 book Decolonizing Wellness, Dalia Kinsey outlines a number reasons to challenge Diet Culture and break free from the diet trap, including:
Dieting diminishes your sense of connection to your body and your ability to trust yourself
Dieting erodes self-image
The thin ideal that is the motivational force behind dieting has racist and elitist roots
The link between dieting and disordered eating and eating disorders is a straightforward one. The multi-billion dollar diet industry profits directly off of individuals’ insecurities, which means it also benefits from the perpetuation of these insecurities. It has a vested interest in upholding an “ideal” body type and marginalizing those that fall outside this ever-changing illusion. This is particularly true for those assigned female at birth (AFAB). For many folks living with disordered eating and eating disorders, they can trace these disordered patterns back to early dieting behaviours in an attempt to align more closely with this ideal.
Because it places such emphasis and moral value on the body as well as the denial of our body’s innate cues and desires, it is no wonder that dieting leads to poorer mental and physical health outcomes. Dieting disconnects people from their bodies and from themselves. Adopting a non-diet approach to eating can be a way to heal from the effects of dieting and disordered eating. This may look like acknowledging the ways that Diet Culture has kept you stuck in an endless cycle of “never enough”, challenging black-and-white thinking around food, or seeking support for your eating disorder.
Below is a list of resources to help you along your anti-diet journey, toward food and body freedom, and the dismantling of the oppressive power structure that is Diet Culture:
Decolonizing Wellness - Dalia Kinsey
The Body Is Not an Apology - Sonya Renee Taylor
Your Body Is Not an Apology Workbook - Sonya Renee Taylor
Anti-Diet - Christy Harrison
Fearing the Black Body - Sabrina Strings
Just Eat It - Laura Thomas
Follow and support individuals in marginalized bodies who are at the frontline of the anti-diet and Health at Every Size movements like Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) - asdah.org
Journal Prompts and Reflection Questions
How would you define your current relationship with food? With your body?
What messages did you learn about food and bodies growing up? Where did these come from and who do these messages and beliefs serve/benefit?
How has dieting and disordered eating negatively impacted you or those around you?
If Diet Culture didn’t exist, what would look different for you?
What are some actions you can take to break free of dieting and disordered eating today and moving forward?