This article includes discussion of eating disorders, diet culture, and negative body image. If you need help, call the National Eating Disorder Association's national helpline at 800-931-2237 or visit their website.
Summertime is finally here! Although we love the season, it often comes with a lot of pressure to lose weight because of diet culture.
As the weather heats up, women across the globe are facing the seasonal pressure to slim down to achieve a “summer body.” Influencers post their bikini photos, gyms announce lower joining fees, and diet companies flash before-and-after images all over social media. The overwhelming stress of altering our bodies for the warmer weather is due to the influence of diet culture.
The Alliance for Eating Disorders defines diet culture as “Any programs that encourage extreme weight loss, require restricting yourself, and suggest cutting calories… as well as programs that advertise weight loss pills and shakes.” This includes but isn’t limited to crash diets, excessive exercise, or products that promote ‘fat-burning’ or ‘suppressing appetite.’
While diet culture may seem like no big deal, it is not a victimless crime. According to a clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, people who diet moderately are five times more likely to develop an eating disorder. That number jumps to 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder for people who restrict the amount of food they eat.If you don’t want diet culture to ruin your summer, we don’t blame you! You shouldn’t let expectations of perfection get in the way of your fun adventures over the next few months. Here are six tips to navigate diet culture and have a fun, body-positive summer!
6 TIPS FOR NAVIGATING DIET CULTURE IN THE SUMMER
Clean Up Your Social Media
Social media is a tool that should be used to connect with loved ones and help you feel your best. Cleaning up your feed will help you avoid unnecessary pressure to engage in diet culture.
Social media is a powerful tool for self-empowerment, but it can also be a source of a lot of anxiety around body image. Staying vigilant on social media is one of the first steps to eliminating diet culture from your daily life. One of the best ways to do that is to clean up your feed and unfollow anyone who makes you feel insecure or spouts diet culture-laden info.
Start by going through the list of people you follow. Do you follow influencers who make you feel insecure about your current body? Maybe you have a friend or acquaintance who constantly posts about their diets or workout fads? If there’s anyone on that list who makes you feel less than amazing, hit the unfollow button or simply mute their activity. Instead, follow some body-positive influencers to add good vibes and positive energy to your feed!
Focus On Exercise Goals Other Than Weight Loss
Focus on how good exercise makes you feel rather than how it makes you look!
Exercise is one of the keys to excellent health, but there are many reasons to sweat it out besides losing weight.
Exercise has innumerable benefits for both your physical and mental health. Instead of hitting the gym for the sole purpose of weight loss, try setting a goal for yourself that has nothing to do with your physical appearance. Maybe you want to run a half marathon this year or do ten pull-ups in a row. Whatever your goal is, be sure not to let the scale get in the way of recognizing your fantastic progress!
Instead of Restricting Food, Add Nourishing and Satisfying Foods
Incorporating foods that make you feel energized is vital to your overall well-being.
There’s no place for restricting food or skipping meals in today’s world. Instead of thinking about foods you should cut out, focus on adding more nourishing foods to your diet.
Diet culture tells us that we need to cut out certain foods to become ‘healthy,’ but it doesn’t suggest foods to add that are nourishing to our bodies and satisfying to our tastebuds. Think about what you’d like to eat more of. Maybe you want to add more protein to your meals or eat more green vegetables. Try adding these elements to three weekly meals for a nourishing boost!Finding ways to incorporate nutritious foods into your diet rather than restricting them is essential to healing your relationship with food.
Challenge Negative Self-Talk
When you don't feel your best, remember all the fantastic things that your here-and-now body can do!
No matter how hard we try, negative self-talk sometimes sneaks its way into our minds. In these moments, challenge the voice in your head that tells you that you’re not enough – because you are!
One of the best ways to overcome negative self-talk is to put your anxious thoughts on trial. If you aren’t feeling good in your here-and-now body, think of all the hard things you do each day. Whether you’re a mom, a businesswoman, or a total baddie, your current body is the one that’s doing all those things! Never forget that your present self is worthy and beautiful – no matter your size.
Enjoy Summertime Activities
Don't let society's expectations get in the way of having a fantastic time this summer!
There are so many fun ways to enjoy the summer heat, and you don’t need to look like a supermodel to enjoy any of them.
One of the biggest lies that diet culture tells us is that we need to be thin to enjoy activities like going to the beach or pool. You absolutely do not need to be thin to enjoy all the fun that summer offers; you just need a swimsuit that you feel good in and friends to make memories with! Our Gold Elite swimsuits are made with everybody in mind. They’ll keep you supported and feeling good no matter where your summer adventures take you!
Remember: There’s No Wrong Way to Have a Body
We design our Gold Elite pieces to fit everybody so you can feel good and look good no matter what!
As weight-loss trends begin to rise again, we need to remind ourselves that we don’t need to spend all our time and energy trying to be smaller. Looking healthy and feeling healthy are two different things, and we need to prioritize what health means to us specifically rather than what society deems fit.
At Gold Elite, we feel passionate that everyone should feel comfortable in their bodies. That’s why we design all our pieces to help you feel good no matter what you’re doing! Be sure to tag us in pics of you rocking your Gold Elite Apparel sets, and we’ll share them on our page @goldeliteapparel!
Miranda Risser is a freelance health & fitness writer based in South Carolina. When she’s not writing, Miranda can be found chipping away at her to-be-read pile, testing out new recipes, or logging miles with her two mini Australian Shepherds.