Breaking up with diet culture: A dietitian on how to ditch the toxicity

Breaking up with diet culture: A dietitian on how to ditch the toxicity

diet

Diet. A term that’s morphed from being the kinds of foods we habitually eat to a destructive culture that’s short-term, restrictive and rather than being kind and nurturing, promotes a disordered relationship with food, body and wellbeing.

A global market worth US$189B thanks to quick-fix weight management brands, celebrity fads and ‘influencers’ as far as the eye can see, diet culture is ingrained in our lives and has become an unwelcome societal norm.

As the New Year approaches (and that period through Christmas no one knows what day it is), there’s no better time to heed this mindset than right now.

The pressure to “watch what we eat” is through the roof, and there is the added fear-mongering notion that quarantine brought around weight gain. Even those who typically had a good relationship with food might have felt pressure to start a diet, not to mention those who already struggled with disordered eating.

Resetting your body and mind to re-establish healthy habits is a good place to start. Here are some tips on how to adopt an intuitive mindset so you can enter 2021 with more balance and a kinder mindset.  

Learning to eat intuitively:

believe it or not, intuitive eating comes naturally, we’re born with it. As we get older, a shift happens and we become exposed to unhealthy habits. Food is no longer just food. Food becomes a reward, a punishment, the judge and the jury. The first step is to honour your appetite: hunger is normal! Respect yourself by feeding your body when it’s hungry. It is one of our most basic primal needs. Next to this is respecting your fullness and being mindful, not restricting yourself and creating a positive environment to experience your meals.

Prioritise sleep:

there’s nothing worse than a bad night’s sleep spent tossing and turning. But did you know a poor sleep routine can cause ongoing mental effects. From brain fog, and making it difficult to concentrate to how we make decisions. However a healthy sleep routine can boost your immunity, mental wellbeing and even your sex drive. Some simple strategies to ensure you clock enough hours are:

  1. Expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day, especially in the morning
  2. Get in your daily sweat session: the more vigorously you exercise, the more powerful the potential sleep benefits
  3. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day to help reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle
  4. Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime and keep your room cool, dark and quiet
  5. Avoid big meals and high volumes of liquid or alcohol before bed

Set Achievable Goals:

being healthy and taking care of your wellbeing should never feel like a chore! Set yourself small, attainable and sustainable goals that motivate you to make healthier choices each day. Better yet, write these goals down and pin them to your fridge to hold yourself accountable. They could include:going meat-free on weekdays, exercising at least 3 times per week or taking 5 minutes to practice mindfulness/meditation each day.

Embrace Plant-Based Wholefoods:

stock your kitchen with nutritious wholegrains, plant-based proteins, healthy fat sources, and fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. As a general guide, try to aim for five handfuls of colourful veggies and two handfuls of fruit per day to ensure you’re getting a range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in each meal. To help your digestive system perform at its best, eat a variety of high-fibre foods such as chickpeas, lentils, and wholegrain cereal and bread.

When you finish a workout, remember to refuel your body with a combination of healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein, such as blending up a smoothie with frozen banana, nut butter, almond milk and Raw Protein Isolate, which is packed with 21g of plant protein and up to 99% RDI Iron. 

Move Your Body Every Day:

great for both your physical and mental health, exercise can help lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart attack, cancer and stroke. Summer is the perfect time to soak up some vitamin D with endorphin-boosting outdoor exercise. This doesn’t mean you have to start training for a marathon. Whether you walk, swim, bike, run or just play some outdoor sport with the kids – try to make the most of the warmer months.

Tara is an Accredited Practising Nutritionist & Head Dietitian and New Product Developer at global health brand, Amazonia

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