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  • Writer's pictureSara Yuen

The Dangers of Diet Culture: Why a Sustainable Healthy Lifestyle is Better

The U.S. diet industry –– composed of weight loss supplements, diet products, and so-called "healthy eating" plans –– is currently valued at $72 billion, according to A. P. News. It is projected to continue growing in the coming years. While on its surface, the industry might seem like it is made up of people who are encouraging healthy eating habits and weight loss, the truth is that these snake oil salesmen and women are preying on vulnerable Americans by selling them remedies that may have worked on their own bodies but are not guaranteed to work for everyone.

It is no secret that diet culture is dangerous. Everywhere you look, there are messages encouraging us to lose weight, often through unhealthy and unsustainable means. This has led to an epidemic of disordered eating, body shaming, and many other harmful side effects. Instead of crash dieting, the Trusted Referral Network recommends a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

In this article, we will outline the dangers of diet culture and changes you can make in your life to improve your overall health (including your mental health) without playing into fads.

research, energy, anti-diet dietitian, weight stigma, food allergies

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The Harmful Physical and Mental Effects of Diet Culture

How many fad diets can you name off the top of your head? Probably four or five, right? It seems like there's a new diet every month –– because there basically is! The cycle goes like this: The new "it" diet pops up, a few "trusted sources" (influencers) brag about it on social media, then the average Joes and Janes give it a try and immediately start losing weight. However, the extreme nature of these diets makes them virtually possible to sustain, resulting in the "yo-yo" effect of weight gain when the person goes back to their regular eating habits. Once negative thoughts start creeping in and the latest fad diet pops up, the cycle begins again.

The extreme nature of many of these diets earns them another name in the eyes of dietitians: an eating disorder. Jilian Rigert, MD, DMD, acknowledges in their article that these crash diets can make people feel "isolated, depressed, disconnected" –– feelings those suffering from an eating disorder also experience. Attempts to adhere to ultra-restrictive diets that cut certain foods out altogether (like the keto diet or paleo diet) can limit a dieter's ability to socialize with friends and family, sacrificing their life for weight loss.

In addition to being isolating, these diets can also create intense anxiety. People attempting to follow the latest fad diet are constantly haunted by questions like: How many calories is this muffin? Did my body weight go down today? Do I need to try a new weight loss plan? Of course, the food police are not going to show up if you go off your diet –– but the anxiety that fad diets create can make it feel that way.

A Healthier, Sustainable Approach

The Trusted Referral Network is here to tell you that you can still reach your health goals while still prioritizing your mental and social well-being. Through "intuitive eating" or eating according to how you feel as opposed to a number on a scale, people can get to know their own body better while still losing all the weight of a crash diet. Intuitive eating does require a bit of an attitude change and requires dieters to look at how they eat differently.

According to Healthline, those attempting to eat intuitively need to understand the difference between "physical hunger" and "emotional hunger" to be successful. Once people learn how to trust their body when approaching food intake, the result can be a lasting lifestyle change.

Beyond losing weight, intuitive eating is a prime example of how people can discover their self-worth through a behavioral change. While a crash diet leads to isolation and potential feelings of failure when dieting doesn't have the promised health outcomes, intuitive eating can empower people of any body size. When paired with physical activity, intuitive eating with a focus on whole foods and proper nutrition can have a lasting positive impact on your health.

The Trusted Referral Network is Looking Out for Your Health

The popularity of social media has forced people to rethink what health means. The current health standards seen online are often unattainable. While anti-diet influencers and registered dietitians are starting to gain followings, so-called "fit-fluencers" still have a hold on the algorithm. Their recommendations should take their opinions with a grain of salt.

Our team of healthcare professionals at the Trusted Referral Network has your health in mind and is happy to connect you with the resources you need to make a positive –– and sustainable –– change in your life.

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