How I Navigate Diet Culture - Tara Richardson

It is difficult not to get sucked into the vortex of “healthy eating” when others around you are obsessed with it. However, it is absolutely possible to avoid such a vortex.

Recently, on my way to work, I felt like having a donut. I thought I was doing a nice thing by buying a dozen so my office mates could enjoy a treat too.

I was wrong.

Four out of seven of my co-workers claimed that they “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” have one; that they were trying to eat "healthy" or “be good”.

I get that not everyone is able or wants to eat donuts. Maybe they were going to have a different treat- whatever, no big deal.

But then the time came for me to sit down to eat my donut. Alone.

I have been in recovery from my eating disorder for a long time, yet I found myself questioning if I too should be “healthy” and not eat the donut. But I really wanted this treat.

I was able to convince myself that this donut was “allowed” and that I can eat whatever I want, but I worry because it's not easy to overcome the pressure of so-called “healthy eating”.

Being healthy is not dieting. It's not depriving yourself of foods that you enjoy or desire. It's not conforming to societal expectations of what your body should look like. Simply put, that’s torture.

 

Here are some tips I keep in mind when others around me are dieting:

 

  • If you feel comfortable, tell your co-workers, friends, or family how harmful the diet talk can be.

  • If you're feeling distressed because you’re eating a so-called "unhealthy" food, reframe the situation and find ways to enjoy and appreciate the food.

  • Think about the consequences of trying to fit in and be “healthy”. Those of us who have struggled with eating disorders are more likely to be led down a slippery slope- sometimes with no return in sight.

  • Remind yourself of the important things in your life that you value more than having an eating disorder.

  • Stop comparing the size of your meal to others and focus on what you need and want.

  • Make lunch fun. Jump in with a fun topic of discussion right away to set the tone for the meal.

 

Don’t sabotage yourself by interpreting your peers’ lifestyles as the only acceptable lifestyle… There is more to life than dieting!

 

Tara Richardson

 


 Tara Richardson has a BA in Psychology, is a graduate of the Certificate of Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) program, and is a registered Social Service Worker. Tara works as a Peer Support Provider at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton. She previously worked in peer support for 6 years at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby. Tara is an advocate for mental health recovery and is passionate about helping people thrive after mental illness. She is an avid writer and contributes to various blogs and articles on topics pertaining to mental health and self-help. Tara is in the process of writing a self-help book on well-being, and a memoir chronicling her hardships and triumphs throughout her recovery.

Tara Richardson has a BA in Psychology, is a graduate of the Certificate of Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) program, and is a registered Social Service Worker. Tara works as a Peer Support Provider at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton. She previously worked in peer support for 6 years at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby. Tara is an advocate for mental health recovery and is passionate about helping people thrive after mental illness. She is an avid writer and contributes to various blogs and articles on topics pertaining to mental health and self-help. Tara is in the process of writing a self-help book on well-being, and a memoir chronicling her hardships and triumphs throughout her recovery.