The body positivity movement has made many important strides in the past few years and is becoming increasingly more and more mainstream. That said, there are some problems that have come along with the growth of the body positivity movement. One of which is that body positive language is increasingly being co-opted and used by the diet industry in order to sell their products. Unfortunately, this means that it is often harder to recognize diets for what they are. In fact, many diets disguise themselves as “healthy lifestyles” outright saying they are not diets.
I remember starting my first Whole 30 several years ago and feeling virtuous about it not being a diet because no calories, points, etc are counted, and you are told to not weigh yourself for the 30 days. Also, the program flat out states that it is not a diet so it has to be true right? (No, absolutely not). In spite of all the restrictions the Whole 30 places on what foods you can and can not eat, I was adamant it was not a diet simply because it stated it wasn’t and there was not tracking of food involved. This made what eventually happened feel very confusing at the time.
I completed the Whole 30 multiple times, even completing a “Whole 60” at one point. Every time I attempted it, it seemed to some how get harder and harder to complete and I couldn’t understand why. I also seemed to develop more sensitivities to food as time went on instead of less as the program claims. I also found that it became a vicious cycle where I would lose weight on the Whole 30 then go back to normal eating and have so much guilt around eating food that wasn’t “Whole 30 approved” that I would very quickly turn back to the Whole 30. Eat something not “Whole 30 approved” and got a stomach ache? Time to start the Whole 30 again.
Another thing I noticed is even though the Whole 30 preaches not weighing yourself, once I finished the program and got on the scale again any little weight fluctuation upward would also get me back on the Whole 30 band wagon. Before I knew it, I was starting and stopping Whole 30’s almost daily caught up in this weird cycle I couldn’t understand because I wasn’t dieting right? Totally wrong. This is the problem with restrictive programs that are in fact diets adopting this body positive messaging. (Whole 30’s whole premise is essentially it’s not about weight it’s about health which is a common refrain in the diet industry currently).
This makes it harder for people to distinguish these programs as diets and for some people, can make it easier to justify embarking on them. Just to be clear, if there are food rules and restrictions of any sort and/or requirements around movement, it is a diet no matter what the marketing around the program says. I often tell my clients if you find yourself questioning if you are dieting or not, you likely are. Pseudo dieting (dieting without realizing we are dieting) is incredibly common with people beginning their journey with eating in a more mindful way and is something that it can be difficult to become more aware of. That said, it’s really helpful to pay attention to any residual rules you have around food, ideas around food being good vs. bad, or foods you don’t eat. All these things are signs that you are in fact still not eating in a truly intuitive way.
Questions about diets in disguise or anything else food and body related? Please feel free to get in touch!