Diet Culture

Did an advertisement ever make you question if you should avoid a certain food or not? Have you ever felt like your body or appearance doesn’t look good enough after scrolling social media? This is diet culture. 

Diet culture is a set of standards, ideals, or expectations around food, weight, bodies, and appearance. In our society, we uphold a very narrow view of these ideals. This does not make them right, but this can cause people, like students, to engage in harmful behaviours to try and change their eating patterns, weight, and bodies to meet these standards.

Another common assumption that many of us hold about weight is that it is an indicator of health. This is because diet culture upholds this assumption and has influenced many sectors including academics and our health care system. Weight does not equate with health the way we once thought. Many of the impacts that were traditionally thought to be connected to a person’s weight can be better explained by weight cycling (yo yo dieting), weight bias, and less access to health care. It is important to remember that weight is complex. You can’t determine the health status or the behaviours of a person by looking at them or their weight. Health is determined by multiple factors. It’s also important to acknowledge that health is not a barometer of worthiness and that all bodies deserve respect and care as they are right now.

In fact, it is normal for people’s weight to fluctuate. Many factors and stages of life change our weight. Students entering puberty tend to gain weight to prepare them for growth and other body changes. Genes also play a significant role in what weight, shape, and size they will be.