Diet Culture vs. Wellness Culture 

Welcome to The Balanced Dietitian Podcast! I am so happy you are here with me this week. 

I am starting to feel a big shift in my energy now that winter is starting to come to a close. Back in November, I shared how much of a negative impact the winter months have on me as I am truly a summer person so the change in temperature is certainly welcome. 

I know that this time of year can be challenging for many of us because there’s a lot of pressure to be bikini body ready. We know that in the summertime, it’s very likely that more of our body’s going to be exposed which can make us feel very vulnerable and push us to want to diet for the summertime.

If you are feeling that way right now, you’re not alone and this episode is for you. 

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • [02:48] Dealing with diet culture leading up to the summer months
  • [06:11] The impact of wellness culture on eating disorders
  • [07:30] Wellness culture and diet culture 
  • [12:05] Sneaky ways wellness culture shows up in everyday life 

[02:48] Dealing with diet culture leading up to the summer months

What if your body right now is already your summer body? What if we focused on what we want to experience this summer instead of how we want to look this summer? What would that look like for you? 

If you want to learn more about healing your relationship with food, then I want to invite you to attend my free class next week. You can sign up for the free class here. 

[06:11] The impact of wellness culture on eating disorders

Many gurus including Gweneth Paltrow have been sharing their wellness routines on social media and the advice given tends to be extremely problematic especially coming from such influential people. 

Wellness culture can quickly become disordered and harmful if we are not careful. In fact, I truly believe that wellness culture is just an extension of diet culture. 

[07:30] Wellness culture vs diet culture 

Wellness culture is essentially the same thing as diet culture, just in a different costume. With diet culture, we really focus on dieting and weight loss. As the world has been beginning to gather evidence, we have found that diets don’t work and lead to things like body dissatisfaction, disordered eating and potentially even more weight gain.

In turn, it seems like diet culture has just begun to turn into wellness culture which is really the idea of striving for health and wellness at all costs. This can lead to overemphasizing some foods and demonizing others and being generally very obsessive around health. 

Wellness culture is basically dieting but now you feel like you are able to justify it because it’s for your health and health is important. Wellness culture is similar in the way that it will identify someone who is well as someone who is slim with nice muscle tone and beautiful skin and hair. 

When diet culture is disguised as wellness culture, it can be hard to differentiate if we are actually being healthy or disordered. An obsession with health is not healthy, it’s an eating disorder in disguise. 

Society makes us believe otherwise, especially when it’s endorsed by celebrities with a big influence. When they talk about health and wellness as a way to restrict themselves, it is extremely harmful. 

When you are not meeting your body’s needs consistently or providing a safe environment for our body to live in because we’re not giving our bodies enough nourishment, this is an eating disorder. 

Wellness culture puts certain behaviors on a pedestal and shames those who aren’t partaking in those behaviors. I believe that in some way, wellness culture may actually make us more sick. 

Putting things like nutrition and exercise on a pedestal and forgetting about all the other markers of health is not healthy. 

[12:05] Sneaky ways wellness culture shows up in everyday life 

We will often see this show up on social media where people will put a ton of emphasis on the need to look good. When it comes to food wellness culture, the same emphasis is put on the food needing to be aesthetically pleasing. Wellness culture can be really harmful as it makes us feel like we need to achieve perfection. 

I want you to remember that health is not a one size fits all thing. Wellness culture tends to pick and choose what is deemed “healthy” and focuses on being a high achiever and having control of every little thing. 

Wellness culture also tends to emphasize toxic positivity and always being happy and joyful which is very performative. Health is not about always being a certain way. It is easy to get caught up in all of the health promoting behaviors and striving to be the best, most healthy version of yourself.

Health is determined by so many different factors that are not all controllable. In fact, some of our health markers are predetermined from the moment that we are born. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care if health is still important to us. It can be almost freeing to realize what is no longer in our control and still strive to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. 

Doing an infrared sauna and paying thousands of dollars for all of these wellness activities is not needed. Not to say that it is bad, there are certainly a lot of benefits to it, however, the obsession with these behaviors is what is not good.

I believe that wellness culture is just a way to normalize orthorexia. It’s really just a way for celebrities and other wellness influencers to normalize and make a profit off of wellness culture. When in reality, it is just promoting disordered habits.   

Ready to heal your relationship with food FOR GOOD? Join the waitlist for The Balanced Program. 

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