What is diet culture?
Diet culture is a trend that promotes an unhealthy obsession with dieting, exercise, food restriction and body shaming. Frequently promoted on social media, diet culture can reach young people and the consequences can be dire. Constant weight loss attempts can lead to:
- weakened bones
- muscle loss
- high blood pressure
- increase in cholesterol
- lack of self-esteem
- eating disorders
Although diet culture can affect both sexes of all ages, women are particularly stigmatized. They seek to attain “model’s bodies,” and failure to attain them often lead to feelings of shame and guilt.
Worse still, such “yo-yo dieting” and trends like the Keto diet can cause the ill effects described above. Insufficient nutrition, combined with over-exercising is an unhealthy combination. Ironically, such feelings of shame can lead to emotional eating and more guilt after they eat something they think they shouldn’t have.
Diet culture separates food into two categories — “good” and “bad,” which is a dangerous way to view it. That view, along with the easy availability of over-the-counter, caffeine-laden “diet” pills, can particularly influence young people and cause them harm.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) Controversy
The BMI was originally created by a 19th-century Belgian statistician. Many medical professionals are disputing its relevance in today’s society.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, some medical professionals and parents particularly object to the BMI measurement, especially when it is sent home from schools as a “report card,” causing even very young children to become anxious about their weight and appearance.
BMI does not take into consideration muscle mass, activity level, body type, age or ethnicity, all of which play a role in determining what a healthy weight is for a particular individual.
Retraining Your Attitude
At the Bariatric Counseling Center of San Antonio (BCC), our mission is to help our clients overcome the ill effects of diet culture. We help them understand that constant dieting is not the answer. A profound change in the way they view themselves is the answer.
We work to reverse the physical and psychological damage our clients may have experienced and guide them to a healthy relationship with food and body image.
Dr. Sara Hamilton, BCC’s Director of Clinical Services, takes a holistic approach to weight loss. “This involves movement, cooking classes, dietary support and bariatric counseling. We are specially trained to work with people who struggle with health and weight challenges due to binge eating and emotional over-eating,” she says.
“We don’t focus on the number on the scale,” she continues. “We work on why people do what they do and the habits, thoughts, and emotions that influence how they live their lives. We care more that our clients are happy in a deep way, whatever that looks like for them.”
The BCC’s treatment programs are covered by most insurance companies. To set up a consultation, contact us.