anti-diet is not anti-health

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i don’t subscribe to diets. not just diets whose goal is weight loss — “diet” as in any way of eating that comes with a label and set of guidelines.

yes, i believe in eating w/consideration for my physical & mental health and with care for the health of the planet.
yes, there are elements of many diets that are valuable to those goals.
so why am i anti-diet?
because at the end of the day, i’m not ok with asking my body to follow a set of rules that were not determined by/for its unique (and changing) needs.

diets are generally built on the premise that our body’s natural desires lead to bad choices–eating the wrong foods, or not enough of the right ones, or too much in general–and bad outcomes. the only way to stay safe & healthy, diet culture tells us, is to rely on an external set of guidelines to override our instincts towards food.[1] and in the absence of being able to listen to, hear, understand & honor the needs of our bodies, those guidelines can turn into rules.

diet culture has us believing that before it came along we didn’t know how to feed ourselves or be healthy.[2] but diets, by design one-size-fits-all (or at best, one-size-fits-many), don’t work for our unique human bodies, both practically and medically.

diets don’t help us identify & undo programming we’ve received about our bodies and about food — which is imperative to finding a nourishing *and* sustainable approach to what & how we eat.

diets don’t have the capability to help us understand & navigate our cravings or aversions, which provide important information.[3] and if a craving is not in compliance with diet guidelines (like the “wrong” food, portion size, or time of day) we might feel frustrated or ashamed, and are more likely to get mad at our bodies and start ignoring their cues.

it takes guidance, learning, practice, compassion, & ultimately time to rebuild the rapport and trust around food that we’re born with. it also requires rejecting paradigms (like diets) whose goal it NOT to create space for & meaning from what we want and feel.

anti-diet is not anti-health[4]. saying “no” to what doesn’t serve you creates room for enthusiastic “yes,” and that is what an anti-diet approach is: pro YOU.

[1] yes, we are experiencing a health crisis with unprecedented rates of heart disease, cancer, chronic illness, and depression, among many other ailments that can be alleviated in part by access to fresh, whole foods. but diet culture is not the solution, because this is not a failing on the part of the individual — it is a perfect storm of systemic stress, societal harms, separation from cultural tradition & ancestral knowledge of the foods that nourish our bodies and communities, and corporate greed that exacerbates the inaccessibility of nutrient dense foods as it propagates the prevalence of foods that lack nutrient density.
[2] settler colonialism has pervasively and tragically shaped how many of our social systems function. it relies on the myth that what existed before colonial arrival was nothing of worth or consequence — that settlers were the saviors who provided civilization & culture & commerce & medicine — and that mindset, along with the racist and classist origins of diet culture, serves as the template for contemporary diet culture.
[3] feeling out of control about cravings may have physiological or psychological components that compound the programming we’ve received. it’s possible to explore this with a holistic wellness practitioner using a non-diet approach!
[4] what about diets for medical conditions? while there are absolutely commonalities in nutritional needs when eating in support of a specific condition or illness, your body is nonetheless unique, and the way you eat has to work for *you* specifically; a “diet” can neither anticipate nor accommodate what that may be. this is also something that can be explored with a holistic wellness practitioner using a non-diet approach.

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