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How To Defeat Diet Culture In Eating Disorder Recovery

Updated: May 3

Written by Eden Davis, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and co-owner of Pearl Wellness Practice


Are you ready to ditch the diet for good? Let me guess, you've tried the diet that promised to be different than the rest, yet at the end of the day, it was still the same diet with a catchy new name. Instead of jumping on the next bandwagon and putting the body through further distress and harm, let's break up with the diet culture once and for all to gain true health and wellness.

Understand Diet Industry


Did you know that 95% of diets are set up for failure? Yep! You're not the problem here, despite what diet culture has taught you. So if dieting is set up for failure, why does society still push for the next fad diet? Well, the dieting industry brought in $142.50 billion dollars in 2022 alone. They're able to stay profitable by promising false hope (so that we buy the next diet that comes out) while poking at people's insecurities.

The history of the dieting and weight loss industry is fascinating, to say the least. Some food for thought: if a diet actually worked, what would happen to the dieting industry? It would fail, and people wouldn't rely on it anymore. By marketing a gimmick that's guaranteed to fail, the dieting industry is able to stay profitable. People won't lose weight in the long run from dieting, but they will lose money, body peace, a healthy metabolism, mental wellness, and nutrients.

Explore Restriction

Suffering from an eating disorder

Research has shown us that dieting clearly doesn't work in the long run and is not sustainable, but why is that? The hypothalamus essentially acts as a control center for many things including our daily intake, ensuring that we receive enough fuel to carry out daily needs.

This part of the brain can regulate when restriction is taking place, but it can't understand the reason behind the restriction. We're wired for survival, so the hypothalamus interprets this as a threat. In response, we decrease certain body functions in order to focus on the most vital needs and retain weight. Restriction leads to:

Decreased resting energy expenditure (REE)

Decreased metabolism

Increased energy storage

Increased ghrelin (hunger hormone)

Decreased leptin (fullness hormone)

Decreased thyroid hormone production

Decreased gastric motility

Increased GI complications

Decreased temperature regulation

Malnutrition & malabsorption

Reproductive complications

Disordered Eating & Eating Disorders

Harmful outcomes from dieting

Redefine Health & Wellness

movement exercise fitness

Looking at the list above, do these seem aligned with health and wellness? We often hear we should lose weight/diet in order to be healthy and well. However, research has proven weight is not an indicator to health and that dieting can directly harm one's self. The goal shouldn't be to restrict key nutrients (unless it's an allergy), it should be to enrich the mind, body, and soul with nourishment, mindful movement, and more.

How would you define health, wellness, nutrition, movement, etc. without the perspective of diet culture? We go through decluttering and replenishing these areas in our e-book, The Body Image Workbook, which serves as a tool for healing relationships with health, wellness, and body image. One of these definitions includes "healthy: taking care of our overall wellness in all areas (social, mental, physical, spiritual, nutrition, financial, etc.)".

Instead of focusing on harmful behaviors like weight loss and dieting, let's focus on true overall wellness. There's nothing wrong with incorporating gentle nutrition and mindful movement into your routine, it could be a wonderful way to honor the body. Intuitive Eating can be a great place to start when wanting to focus on wellness without diet culture interfering.

Our in-house Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor work with adults every day to redefine health and wellness while healing the relationship with food and body. They have crafted a body image workbook, Redefining Confidence From Within, where individuals can work towards healing their relationship with mind, body, and soul.

If you or a loved one are struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder, our treatment team is here to help. We offer in-house nutrition and therapy telehealth services for adults (18+) in Maryland, DC, Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, and California. You're welcome to reach out to schedule a complimentary consultation call and see if our provider(s) would be a good fit for your needs.

With Pearls of Wisdom,

Eden & Kira

eating disorder treatment


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