#TrendingNews Blog Business Entertainment Environment Health Lifestyle News Analysis Opinion Science Sports Technology World News
The Plague Of Diet Culture During The Spring Holidays

Diet culture may sound like a buzzword, something thrown on ‘anti-weight watchers’ products or campaigns and something we feel only afflicts and controls the fitness influencers that occasionally pop up on our social media feeds, but it's pervasive and incessant. The term diet culture refers to the way health, diets and dieting is talked about in our society, which for decades has been negative and harmful, even when parading as health and wellbeing. It’s the culture that says chocolate is bad, calories should be counted and food is evil as opposed to delicious and vital for life.

This culture manifests in a variety of ways, from ‘low fat’ yoghurt in the supermarket to the all-out shaming of individuals for their weight and the rampant cases of eating disorders in the modern world. 

And somehow, it manages to wrap itself around our festivities, traditions and celebrations too. Christmas is spent feeling guilty for the (amazing) food consumed just because a judgemental family member eyed your helping of seconds and then bragged loudly about how little they eat. 

New Year is marked by this society-driven pressure to get in shape, birthdays feature birthday cakes we feel we should only indulge in for one day, summer comes with barbeques where we watch everyone reach for the salad and then Halloween is marked by ‘sugar-free’ sweets and panic eating the leftover chocolate you were told to deny yourself. 

But Easter and the transition into spring is also victim to diet culture. What should be a time of fun and frivolity can be marked by ideas of a summer body and crash diets, of getting beach ready and the running routine you said you would implement in the new year. This time of year should be about pancakes, chocolate and perfected roast dinners, it should be another chance to spend time with family and indulge in some delicious food. But societal ideas of weight, however prominent or loud they are, suck the fun from it.

Easter biscuits

Diet culture doesn’t always have to be everywhere to wreak havoc. It doesn’t have to be splashed across TV adverts, magazine articles and celebrity coverage for it to be impactful. Whilst many point to the 00s as being the peak of this societal narrative, we still see just as much pressure to ‘eat right’ and look a certain way today, despite the supposedly ‘woke’ generation that dominates our current society.

The 00s may have been the rise of heroin chic, slimming world's dominance and anorexia jokes, but the 20s have almond moms, ‘detox’s and fitness influencers who promote 1200-calorie diets (this is suitable for a toddler, not a fully grown human). Despite these notions of the perfect body and ‘perfect diet’ not being as rampant and explicit, pressure still exists, and we often find them coming from family and friends, especially at this time of year.

This dangerous and toxic narrative around food can also be internal, the result of growing up in a society that reported star's weights like football scores and created products such as ‘skinny rice’. We can come to learn that this problematic voice of diet culture exists within us too, as a small voice in our head that we can’t ignore. After years of hearing such rhetoric, both from the wider world and our own community, we can find these ideas planted firmly in the back of our minds, no matter how much we want to challenge them.

This can exist in the idea that we only need one bite of our Easter eggs, should load our plates with vegetables at family dinners, have to ‘earn’ sweet treats through exercise and must be working towards a supposed ‘beach body’. It can also come from others' comments about weight, calories or even just as simple as calling foods ‘bad’.

Roast dinner

But, it could be argued that this push for health around this time is just an attempt at mindful eating and not overindulging. The idea we need more vegetables, should limit our consumption of calorific food and stay active is just a misread strive to stay healthy and happy with our bodies. Is there such an issue with looking after physical health at times of excess?

The issue with these trains of thought is that they can bleed into other’s lives, they can trigger and upset our loved ones and lead us to unhealthy habits or relationships with food. Health, mental and physical health, does not include restriction and unhappiness. If this internal or external notion of dieting and healthy eating interferes with occasional indulgence, listening to your body's wants and pushes you to deny yourself certain foods or food groups, then it needs to be tackled.

As Body Image Coach, Olivai Bowden explains, “ When someone has an eating disorder, times of Lent and Easter can trigger someone into having a relapse because anything that focuses on food habits is very difficult for them to attain”.

We don’t always know who may or may not be negatively affected by diet culture but as statistics show, over 1.25 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder, and thus using or enforcing these ideas about body image, health and diet can be incredibly harmful, only adding to the prevalence of disordered eating and negative relationships with food.

It's essential to approach Lent and Easter with a balanced perspective, focusing on the spiritual and cultural significance of these holidays while being mindful of any potential negative impacts of diet culture,” Bowden advises. 

We shouldn’t be in situations that involve sitting through triggering and upsetting conversations around weight and health, no one should be pushed by society to look a certain way or eat to a certain diet. But challenging these ideas, whether they come from the media, members of our family or our own mind can be difficult.


But challenging it, either externally or internally, is the first step to dealing with it. Trust your body and what it wants, be mindful but not restrictive and be sympathetic to those still a victim of diet culture and its ideas.


Share This Post On


Leave a comment

You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in