The ghosts of dieting: How diet culture affects our everyday lives

Photo of a weighing scale
Ben Mefford/Staff

Related Posts

Content warning: Disordered eating

The ketogenic diet. Intermittent fasting. Cutting out sugars. Minimizing carbs. 

The list can go on, and together or on their own, these phrases create the dieting fads that have circulated through social media. Eventually, it lands on the plate of a person hoping to lose weight, or shave off “just a few pounds” before the full wave of summer hits. 

However, the consequences of diving headfirst into diet culture go far deeper than just experimenting with diets. An unforeseen consequence of dieting obsessively or from a young age is that diet culture grows to haunt you

This can be found in small things at first like feeling guilty for “cheating” for a weekend, but soon grows into larger issues. You’ll be haunted by the guilt of the weight you will gain, of not choosing anything with a lesser calorie count or not skipping the meal at all. There grows a guilt that comes with taking a rest day, and the awful feeling of satisfaction going to bed hungry. 

These things are not healthy. Fasting at a young age so frequently can be so unhealthy and pushing yourself when you’re tired exhausts your mind and body. And yet, some of us still find ourselves haunted by diet culture, by the fad diets and where we “would be” if we just stuck with cutting carbs. These ghosts follow a person after they reach their goal weight, or even if they never do, no one ever talks about it

The consequences of becoming consumed by diet culture, or heavily influenced by it, run deep into the psyche. It grows to dictate your actions and opinions of yourself and what you consume, only to be remedied by time and healing. I think it’s important to be wary of this effect when pushing yourself or others to better themselves, as you can still be the best version of yourself without the fad diets and excessive workouts. 

Don’t open yourself up to the consequences of diet culture. Instead, cultivate healthy methods of self-improvement and just enjoy food. 

Contact Isabella Carreno at [email protected].