top of page

Breaking up with diet culture: 3 steps you can take today

Updated: Jun 27

girls eating, breaking up with diet culture

From Diet Culture to Food Freedom: Where to Begin

You're starting to catch on that diet culture is rooted in anti-fatness, racism, sexism, and lots of other no-good-very-bad-things. And maybe you're even starting to consider that you want to challenge diet culture within you and around you. And maybe you want to explore Intuitive Eating as an alternate path!

But where do you start? Tackling diet culture and all the stories, behaviors, and ingrained beliefs we've internalized over the years can feel like a daunting task.

In this post, I share three key tips to get started:

  1. Avoiding labels like "good" or "bad" when it comes to food.

  2. Tuning into the subtle food rules that may be dominating your food choices.

  3. Crafting truly satisfying dining experiences.

All that's required of you is a willingness to try something new - to challenge previous ways of doing and seeing things and reclaim your right to eat joyfully, intuitively, and without guilt.

pensive person thinking about breaking up with diet culture

Tip 1: Avoid using words that imply there's a right or wrong way to eat

Let's talk about how we describe food. Labeling food as "good," "bad," "healthy," and "unhealthy" assigns moral value to food.

When we label food this way, we're not just talking about taste or nutrition – we're passing judgment. And that judgment? It leads to an emotional experience and reaction to food.

Think about it:

  • When you eat something you've labeled as "bad," how does that make you feel? Guilty, right?

  • And when you're munching on something "healthy," do you feel like you're nailing this whole wellness thing? Maybe a little smug?

Part of decoupling yourself from the grips of diet culture is to recognize that food shouldn't be used as a tool to make you feel like a better or worse person.  Whether you're chowing down on kale or cookies, it doesn't say a thing about your worth as a person – despite what those sneaky marketing campaigns might imply.

Take HaloTop, for example. They're practically shouting from the rooftops that by eating their low-calorie ice cream, you're a saint! It's like they want us to feel guilty or proud of what we eat. But here's the kicker: that emotional rollercoaster? It's exactly what keeps diet culture chugging along, raking in the profits while we're left feeling stressed about food.

So, how do we break free from this cycle?

We start viewing food as neutral. No more "good" or "bad" – just food. Those labels are subjective anyway. Remember when fat was the enemy, and now it's all about cutting carbs? Yeah, it's all up for debate.

Try to stick with neutral adjectives that objectively describe the food: crunchy, sweet, salty, green, purple, hard, dense, light, heavy, etc.  

Food is food, and how you feel about it says more about society's hang-ups than it does about you. It's time to ditch the guilt and embrace the deliciousness – no judgment attached.


Tip 2: Try to notice what "shoulds" and rules you have around food

Do you find yourself living by a set of food rules? Maybe you've got a list of "shoulds" about what you can and can't eat, or when and how much you should eat. Becoming aware of your own food rules is the first step to challenging or eliminating them.

Living by food rules often leads to rigid thinking, where it's all or nothing. 

All-or-nothing thinking could look like:

  • "I shouldn't eat this food," and if you do, you feel like you've messed up the whole day.

But you haven't blown anything. You just ate a food that you had created a rule around not eating. Having a flexible mindset with food is a sign of an intuitive eater.

coffee in coffee mug, breaking up with diet culture

So, if we're not following our self-imposed rules, how do we know what to eat and when?

Well – how do you know when it's time to pee or sleep? Your body tells you.

It's the same with eating. The goal is to let your body take the wheel – to eat when you're hungry, move when you feel like it, and listen to what your body is telling you it needs.

But before you can get there, you've gotta quiet those rule-making voices in your head. It's going to take time and practice, but trust me – it's worth it. Let's give ourselves the freedom to eat without a rulebook – your body's got this.


Tip 3: Ask yourself "What sounds good right now?"

Enjoying your food – meaning you don't feel anxious while eating it or guilty afterward – is a key sign that you have a healthy relationship with food.

This tip is all about figuring out what foods make you happy. This is easiest to do when you have examined and challenged your food rules.

What food leaves you feeling satisfied and content? What foods sit well with your body? Think about those moments when you take a bite and go, "Oh my gosh, this is delicious!" This is the response we're seeking after a meal. Not guilt, shame, or regret.

When deciding what to eat, think about a few things:

  • How hungry are you? Do you need a hearty meal or just a quick pick-me-up?

  • What are you craving? Maybe something crunchy or creamy? Salty or sweet?

  • How do different foods feel in your body?

When you genuinely enjoy your food and it hits the spot, you're less likely to have obsessive thoughts before, during, and after your dining experience.

And here's the kicker: when you're satisfied, you're satisfied. No need to keep reaching for more or feeling like you missed out.

This one can take some time to implement and get comfortable with, but the best place to start is by asking yourself "What sounds good right now?" before meals and offering yourself unconditional permission to eat whatever the answer is!

woman satisfied with her food, breaking up with diet culture


Embracing Your Journey to Food Freedom

Breaking free from diet culture and embarking on your path to food freedom takes time, patience, and self-compassion. By trying out these three tips – avoiding labels like "good" or "bad," noticing your food rules, and asking yourself what sounds good right now – you can start to challenge the ingrained beliefs and behaviors that diet culture has instilled in you.

You deserve to have a healthy, happy relationship with food – one that's free from the toxic influence of diet culture. So take a deep breath, trust yourself, and embrace this wild ride.

Here's to food freedom! 🥳


If you want to explore any of this further, check out my 1:1 coaching!

If you're more of a DIY person and want to get more tools in your toolbox right away, download my free guide below! 👇


bottom of page