“banish the bloat”: how diet culture language keeps us from integrating

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our goal as humans, whether we’re talking about our health & wellness or living a fulfilling life, is to be integrated.

“integrated” means that all aspects of our experiences have a seat at the table–including what we don’t like or understand about ourselves. rather than getting left out of the room or shoved into a corner, these things are invited to be part of the conversation because our bodies, minds and spirits work as a whole.

there are things we’ve been taught to dislike about ourselves, or to worry are wrong, and we tend to react with fear and frustration rather than curiosity. terms like “banish” or “beat” serve to “other”–isolate or blame–our bodies & experiences, pitting us against ourselves.

i recently got a “banish the bloat” email from a wellness company and posted a poll in my instagram stories, asking if folks thought this was diet culture language.

for context: bloating is one of the ways our bodies communicate with us about their experiences and needs. while uncomfortable, bloating is not *the* problem, but rather a *symptom* of a problem. to say that bloat needs to be banished is to assign fault & blame to our bodies for not “working right,” for having needs that aren’t being met, or for communicating those needs to us.

i was thrilled to see that most of you were able to call out this language. for those who weren’t, i hope it gave you a moment of pause and curiosity.

why do i call out these seemingly innocuous instances of diet culture? because just like other systems of oppression (racism and misogyny, for example) diet culture is meant to keep us in shame, fear & hate. it is not a structure intended to make us more vibrant & fulfilled, and because it’s been in place for so long many of us can’t identify when it’s at play.

diet culture carves our experience into what’s working well & what’s going wrong, rather than encouraging us to be holistically present & curious. diet culture discourages our systems from striving for integration. but you have agency over how you want to experience your body & your life, and when you say no to diet culture you help shape a world in which we trust, honor & love our bodies–which is the fertile soil for health.

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