As we approach the July 4th holiday weekend in the U.S., there is often a focus on “freedom” and “independence” that comes with celebrating the history of America’s independence as a new nation. On a personal level, freedom is still not universal with many fighting for basic human rights against oppressive systems of power in our country. And this is exhausting and unfair.
While there are many forms of injustice we could unpack, one type of freedom we’ll look at in particular is food freedom. What is this? It’s freedom from the food rules imposed on us by diet culture. It’s taking a critical look at the way we’re told to eat and how our bodies should look from messaging that comes from capitalist, white, cisgender, heteronormative and abelist agendas.
Since a young age, most of us have been taught what bodies are “good” and “bad” with thin, slender and athletic shapes being praised in society and fat being something that needs to be “fixed.” This diet culture likes to tell us what to eat, how much of it and when. In case no one has told you recently – you don’t need to follow these arbitrary rules. And they’re just that – arbitrary. Ever-changing based on who is trying to profit off your insecurities in a given moment (hello Atkins, Keto, WW, the list goes on…)
So you’ve decided you want to break free from food rules – now what? It starts with curiosity, and asking yourself some simple questions:
- Is this a food rule? Where did I learn this rule from? Why was I told this? Who does this rule benefit? (cause it certainly isn’t you!)
- Does this rule align with the knowledge that all bodies are good?
- What can I do to start to let go of this rule?
The rules diet culture thrusts on us keep you stuck in guilt and shame, but it’s important not to make yourself feel bad for believing them in the first place – of course you did! We’re only human and subject to so much societal conditioning. Breaking free from the rules is a process – sometimes you’ll get it right and sometimes it’ll feel too hard. So make sure you approach it with equal parts empowerment and strength and kindness and gentleness. Both are important.
If you’re choosing to celebrate July 4th this year I hope you claim your freedom against diet culture – eat the hot dog, enjoy the burger, have the slice of cherry pie – simply because you want to and you can.
Looking to ditch dieting and find food freedom in your own life? Schedule a free consultation with a therapist at our practice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC