The Instagrammers You Need To Follow Who Are Calling Out Diet Culture

Those two words – “diet culture” – are being thrown around online like confetti at the moment. But there are two small words with a big impact, it seems. In all honesty, it is only recently that I have truly started really listening the ‘diet culture’ narrative, and have begun to understand what the heck everyone is getting up-in-arms about.

But I have found that the more I learn, the more I want to contribute to this narrative, and draw attention to the way in which ‘diet culture’ weaves its way into daily life, without us knowing, and can sneakily influence our thoughts, perspectives and choices. Not to be a drama queen, but when you know what you’re looking for, you see that it is literally everywhere – and I mean everyyywhere.

Whilst I feel like there is now (at least) a basic understanding of that fact that “fad” and “crash” diets; A) aren’t sustainable B) don’t create lasting behaviour change and C) are pretty much the worst (full stop), the highlighting of ‘diet culture’ has brought about another level of subtle, yet tricksy, elements to get our head around.

I’m no expert, obviously, and I would never profess to be as such. But I am big on sharing knowledge and understanding, about things that matter – and I think this matters. So even though my understanding is only ‘beginner level’ I can still share the basics. And then I can point you in the right direction, and tell you who you can surround yourself with – virtually speaking – to learn even more. Ready? Let’s go.

What is ‘Diet Culture’?

Diet Culture doesn’t mean “being on a diet”. You can get all sorts of ‘caught up’ in diet culture, without even knowing – which is what makes it so menacing! In a nutshell…

…diet culture promotes the belief and expectation that your worth is influenced by, and dependant on, the size, shape or look of your body.

Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CDN is a leading non-diet expert and her definition of ‘diet-culture’ is used widely throughout the non-diet space. She explains that diet culture is a system of beliefs that:

  • Worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue.
  • Leads you to believe that you’re irreparably broken just because you don’t look like the impossibly thin “ideal.”
  • Promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status.
  • Demonises certain ways of eating while elevating others.
  • Oppresses people who don’t match up with societies supposed picture of “health”

Even the championed ‘health’ diets, like Clean Eating, Keto and 5:2, may seem like they are a more #balanced approach to eating and wellness, but if you dig beneath the surface, the unscrupulous demonisation of certain foods, food groups, portion sizes and eating behaviours is still the crux of their so-called popularity and ‘success’.

How to Spot Diet Culture

I’ll apologise in advance because once you start noticing it, there’s no going back. It’s very hard to un-see. It’s in TV advertising, it’s at the gym, it’s in supermarkets, it’s in the conversations you’ll hear at work and that you have with you friends. How often have you seen or heard the following:

  • Personal Trainers selling six, eight or twelve week ‘transformations‘ at the gym or online
  • “I’m planning on going on doing X, but I need to lose a few pounds first
  • Cheat meals” / “Guilt-free” snacks / “Clean” food
  • The idea that you have to ‘earn‘ food or that you ‘deserve’ a treat because you’ve “been good recently
  • Feeling the need to ‘get back on track’ after a holiday or a weekend

What Can You Do?

My advice, is learn to recognise the signs, in real life (#IRL) and critically evaluate what you’re seeing, reading, hearing and choosing to consume (in terms of the information you are exposing yourself to). Educate yourself about how diet culture might be at play in your own life, and reject that diet mentality and start calling yourself out on your on those thought processes, sayings and behaviours.

I’m a firm believer that the wallpaper of your life matters and there are a lot of anti-diet dieticians and nutrition professionals now sharing their knowledge online – particularly on instagram. By surrounding yourself with positive anti-diet influences in your virtual space, and reading the information they share, you will (slowly, but surely) make tracks towards a healthier (actually healthier) relationship with food and your body.

There are soooo many people you could follow, but the few accounts I’ve shared below are the ones who initiated my own interested in anti-diet culture, and that share their knowledge in a way that is easy to digest, understand and take on board. Whether you’re a fan of a lengthy caption, a podcast, or the quick and simple infographic, there’ll be someone for you…

Evelyn Tribole: The Original Intuitive Eating Pro

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Welcome to day 1 of the #IntuitiveEating Principles & Practice series! ⁣ ⁣ THE PRINCIPLE ⁣ Rejecting the diet mentality is a crucial, yet very challenging step. Throw out the diet books and articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better weight loss diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating. ⁣ ⁣ Remember to give yourself grace & self-compassion: you’ve been inundated with diet culture’s harmful messaging for years, if not decades! Deconstructing & unlearning this mindset takes time, patience, & intention. You are not alone.⁣ ⁣ THE PRACTICE ⁣ •I invite you to explore your dieting history, including any food plan or “challenge” that promised weight loss. Did the diet really work in the long run? Or are you just remembering the temporary weight loss? ⁣ ⁣ •What has dieting cost you? Consider your social life,relationships, eating behavior, mood, time, food preoccupation, & money? ⁣ ⁣ •Has dieting ever served as a coping technique when you feel out of control? Where dieting gives you a focus and distraction from stress?⁣ ⁣ •If you stopped dieting long ago, are there still lingering thoughts or behaviors that keep you from truly feeling free from diet culture’s grasp? ⁣ ⁣ •What dieting components could you choose to let go of today or this week? Perhaps no weigh-ins or weighing less often? Maybe not counting macros or calories or points? Perhaps not participating in discussions of weight loss?⁣ ⁣ •If you don’t feel ready to let go of weight loss, can you put it on the back burner? It’s acknowledging that the desire is there, but not acted upon.⁣ ⁣ •If you’ve already implemented this principle—what was your turning point? Perhaps it was a realization or aha moment?⁣ ⁣ •Be curious, notice, and reflect.⁣ ⁣ Please share your reflections in the comments, as it may help others to realize they are not alone. It may also inspire those who are ambivalent!⁣

A post shared by Evelyn Tribole MS RDN CEDRD-S (@evelyntribole) on

Tally Rye – Personal Trainer and advocate for a ‘Health First’ approach to fitness

Tally and the rest of the @GirlGains crew also have a podcast called Fit and Fearless (linked) which also comes with 10/10 recommendation from me!

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🗣PSA : Rejecting diet culture, shifting your mindset, cultivating intuition and challenging internalised fat phobia is BLOODY HARD and takes TIME, WORK and SELF COMPASSION 🙏🏻. ⁣ ⁣ We may have been born as a blank canvas, but we’ve spent a lifetime learning, experiencing and believing messages about food, health, exercise and our bodies. ⁣ To suddenly try and wipe the slate clean overnight, is kinda crazy and most likely unrealistic for you?! ⁣ ⁣ For me, I compare this to how I feel about sustainability. I know, that we as humanity cannot carry on living the way we are. But am I ready to live a zero waste, vegan life? No. ⁣ But am I able to slowly make small changes, and transition to more sustainable living in my own time? ⁣ Yes. ⁣ ⁣ Let’s bring it back to diet culture- We know that the shame, guilt and comparison we experience in diet culture is unsustainable and we can’t be on a diet forever. Life is to be lived! But at the same time, letting go of that is challenging, for all of us. ⁣ ⁣ So to sum up: if you’re on the journey of waking up to Diet Culture, trying to have a better relationship with food, fitness and your body…you don’t have to have it figured out yet. ⁣ It takes time, and we’re all going at our own pace. ⁣ ⁣ So I just send you a big virtual hug! You’re not doing this ‘wrong’ – this is your path, and I just hope I can help signpost you in a positive direction 🙏🏻. ⁣ ⁣ #bestme #dietculturedropout #ditchdietculture #intuitiveeating #intuitivemovement #haes #dietculture #healthfirstapproach #selfcompassion

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Laura Thomas, PhD – Intuitive Eating and Non-Diet Registered Nutritionist

Another podcast recommendation – Laura hosts her own podcast, Don’t Salt My Game, where she chats to industry experts and body-positivity advocated about all things health and wellness. She also has a book, Just Eat It, which I’m yet to read but am led to believe is amazing.

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THE SIDE EFFECTS OF DIETING THAT NO-ONE EVER TALKS ABOUT// 👙 It’s that time of year again where there’s growing pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty and body standards set out by a patriarchal capitalistic society that doesn’t give two shits about your wellbeing and just wants to take your hard earned green. 💕 Yep ‘bikini body’ season is upon us, and the diet cravings (full credit to one of my clients who came up with this term!) can hit us hard! So I thought that it might be helpful for a little gentle reminder of what an honest diet ad might look like. ⚖️ This of course, isn’t everyone’s experience of dieting (you might be one of those statistical 🦄 where diets work and don’t give you any problems), but for many of us, they’re a path to disordered eating and a troubled relationship with food. 💖 And of course this isn’t to shame anyone who might currently be on a diet, but to offer an alternative perspective, and help break the diet cycle (that you might not have even realised you were in!) Diet culture sells us the lie that the key to living your best life is through weight loss, but it often comes at a really high cost to both our physical and mental wellbeing. 👿 We also tend to blame ourselves when diets don’t work, so here’s some explanation of what’s actually going down. 😬 Binge eating – dieting leads to bingeing. It's science. Say you skip breakfast to try and be 'good'. Your brain is pissed. It sends out neurotransmitters and hormones like ghrelin and neuropeptide Y – both of which are super potent orexigenics – they stimulate appetite. So as the day goes on – these guys build up, you give in (to your normal biological urge to eat) and once you pop you can't stop. Sound familiar? Yup. This can also play out as restricting for a longer period of time prior to your holidays, followed by a blowout on your vacay. You might end up spending the whole holiday worried about food and feeling out of control. If that’s you, just remember that is a totally normal response to restriction and deprivation. 🐢 Slowed metabolism – your body can't tell dieting apart from actual food scarcity and deprivation, so to compensate for… {continues in comments}

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Christy Harrison – Anti-Diet Dietician

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Despite what diet culture has told all of us for the last 150 years, there is NOTHING WRONG with larger bodies. Smaller bodies aren’t “better,” and larger bodies aren’t “worse.” The health disparities we see between the two groups likely have nothing to do with body size itself, and everything to do with how our culture *treats* people who are larger, which is driven by our diet-culture belief system. (Just like how the health disparities we see in people in other marginalized groups are driven by the *marginalization,* not by any inherent characteristics of the people.) – It’s time to stop treating people like garbage because their bodies don’t match up with some bullshit cultural ideal. It’s time to smash the body hierarchy, once and for all. – If you want to hear more about HAES, intuitive eating, and body liberation, click the link in my bio to subscribe to Food Psych today! – And if you’re ready for a deeper dive into all things anti-diet, come check out my intuitive eating online course at ❤️ – [Image description: White circle on yellow background. Circle contains quote by Christy Harrison from episode 192 of Food Psych® Podcast, reading “We have to really, truly stop believing that one body size is better than the rest.”] – #haes #intuitiveeating #edrecovery #antidietproject #antidiet #riotsnotdiets #effyourbeautystandards #losehatenotweight #lifebeyonddieting #thelifethief #selfcarenotselfcontrol #balancednotclean #foodisfuel #prorecovery #bodyposi #bodypositive #bopo #foodpsychpod #foodpsych #feminism #healthateverysize #nourishnotpunish

A post shared by Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CDN (@chr1styharrison) on

Caroline Dooner – Author of The F*ck It Diet

You can also follow me, and my health and fitness journey, as I try to implement the anti-diet approach and health-first mentality into my training, food choices and self-care routines, day-to-day. You can find me on instagram @moll_eatsandlifts.

Until next time,
Moll x

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