The Toxicity of Diet Culture

Sarah McMahon
5 min readMay 9, 2019

​Diet culture is defined as a system of beliefs that worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue. Since thinness=health=moral virtue, losing weight is a means of attaining higher status while simultaneously demonizing certain foods or ways of eating. Diet culture is why we consider some foods, such as pizza or cake or butter “bad” but consider other foods, like kale or salmon “good.”

According to diet culture, the ideal body is a thin body, thereby oppressing and shaming people who don’t fit into the thin ideal. Diet culture heavily perpetuates the belief that our physical appearance is inextricably tied to our happiness and worth.

One interesting, though insidious, characteristic of diet culture is that it’s everywhere. We are obsessed with becoming smaller and prettier, without really understanding why. We are told we can always fix something, and we can always do better. There are constantly new products being marketed to us in the name of health: goji berries, kelp, tumeric, kombucha, mushrooms, detox teas, smoothies, vitamins, protein powders, workout plans, surgeries, et cetera.

Each new health tonic is a product someone made to turn a profit. Very rarely are these products necessary. Very rarely do they provide any concrete benefits. Mushrooms, smoothies, kombucha, et cetera will probably not harm you, but the simple act…