Home ยป Worried About Diet Culture Traps: Watch Out For These 71 Common Pitfalls

Worried About Diet Culture Traps: Watch Out For These 71 Common Pitfalls

Living With Diet Culture Traps

You’ve become more aware of diet and weight loss influences in your life. You’ve been noticing some commercials that seem icky and diety.


Scrolling through your favorite blogs, you’ve noticed the same. You find that articles about good and bad foods are pretty common. It gives you an icky feeling in your stomach.

In fact, a lot of things you are seeing and hearing are making you feel gross.

You want freedom from diets. But it’s hard because diet talk is all around you.

Diet Culture Is Everywhere

Not sure why? Find out all you need to know about diet culture here.

Getting freedom from diets is hard. The tricky thing is that you might not be able to recognize all the diet culture traps. Diet culture is deeply ingrained in you. The things that you experience daily are influenced by our culture’s obsession with dieting and weight loss. But you can’t recognize it because it is considered “normal.”

To free yourself from the diet trap, you need real-life examples of diet talk in your everyday life. With these examples of diet culture, you will be able to recognize negative talk and stop it from affecting you.

Here Are Some Examples Of Diet Culture Traps That You Experience Every Day

Important Notes Before Reading

An important note before you start reading; you may find that you are actually participating in the diet trap by going along with the things on these lists.

White board in office "be kind" . Key to stop body shaming.

Don’t judge yourself for it. Be kind to yourself.

It takes a lot of unlearning to stop participating in diet culture. Just use this as a learning experience so you can point out diet talk in your life.

Also, you will be reading about a lot of different diet topics. You may feel the urge to do some of these things. Keep telling yourself that this is just diet culture and not something you have to do.

It is important to remember that all of the things on this list are myths. They are not facts. Nothing on this list will make you a better person, healthier, or help you have a smaller body.

Ready to dive in?

Diet Culture Traps In The Media

You love scrolling through your favorite blogs. But did you know that diet and weight loss culture is regularly featured? Here are 11 examples of diet culture commonly found in blogs and news sites.

losing 40 lbs by the holidays is a diet culture headline
  1. “Worst” food lists
  2. “How to lose 40 lbs in two weeks” articles
  3. Before and after pictures showing weight loss results
  4. Tips on how to make foods you love “healthier”
  5. Scare tactic articles with reasons why you need to lose weight
  6. Ways to stop eating sugar
  7. Foods to help you lower your inflammation
  8. The one food you should eat for a longer life
  9. Only showing images of people in smaller bodies
  10. Fake stories about a “magic” ingredient that will make you healthier, thinner, or better.
  11. Articles saying positive things about fad diets

Curious about diet talk on social media? Here’s some information from US San Diego about diet culture and social media.

Diet Culture Traps In Advertisements

You probably aren’t surprised that ads can kill your ability to find freedom from diets. This list of 11 diet culture examples in advertisements will help you spot every one you see.

Clean, organic, healthy are diet culture buzzwords
  1. Marketing terms like “clean”, “organic”, “healthy”
  2. Commercials that make you feel bad for eating normal foods
  3. Ads that make you feel bad for not feeding your children “good” foods
  4. Diet foods, like low-calorie ice cream, marketing themselves as a non-diet food with actors in larger bodies
  5. Showing people in smaller bodies eating healthy foods
  6. Weight loss quick fixes
  7. Ads that use larger bodies to show examples of people that need their product
  8. Claims that a product provides nutrients that you don’t actually need
  9. Weight loss programs advertised as healthy habit changes
  10. Ads for products that make you feel like you need them to be healthier
  11. Exercise equipment ads that tell you that you would be a better, more dedicated person if you exercised more

Diet Culture Examples In Exercise

Fitness is full of diet culture that can lead to exercise abuse. Exercising to control your body stops you from enjoying moving your body for joy. Exercise becomes a miserable task.

See if any of these 13 examples sound familiar.

exercise area with text that says exercising to work on problem areas is diet culture
  1. Exercising to “earn” calories so that you can eat more.
  2. Exercising to “burn” calories so you don’t “gain” weight.
  3. Doing sit-ups to “work on” your stomach.
  4. Exercising for your “problem” areas.
  5. Thinking that exercise will make your body smaller.
  6. Exercising every day because it makes you a “better” person.
  7. Overexercising to the point that you get an overuse injury.
  8. Exercising when you are injured because you are afraid that you will gain weight if you take time off.
  9. Doing exercises that you don’t find joy in because you heard they are better for weight loss.
  10. Skipping meals before exercising because you think it will make you “burn” more fat.
  11. Working out at 4 AM because you heard that working out in the morning “burns” more calories.
  12. Doing only cardio to “burn” more calories.
  13. Buying exercise equipment to target problem areas.

Diet Culture Examples In Food

Food and nutrition are full of diet traps. And the tricky part is that you can’t get away from food.

Check out these 19 examples of diet culture you experience daily.

Bread basket with text "eating a lettuce bun instead of bread is diet culture."
  1. Skipping carbs because they “make you fat.”
  2. Avoiding gluten even though you don’t have Celiac Disease because gluten is “bad.”
  3. Eating your meals off of a smaller plate to limit your portion sizes.
  4. Chewing your food too many times because you heard chewing well can help you eat less.
  5. Only buying low-fat foods because ” eating fat makes you fat.”
  6. Eating “right” all week and saving the foods you love for your weekend “cheat days.”
  7. Drinking a glass of water before you start your meal to help “fill you up.”
  8. Counting calories.
  9. Thinking that you have a food addiction.
  10. Logging every food and drink you have during the day.
  11. You don’t snack even when you are hungry.
  12. Only shopping the outside aisles at the grocery store.
  13. Thinking organic foods are better for you.
  14. Following fad diets that promise weight loss.
  15. Checking the label of every food that you eat to see if it “fits” your diet.
  16. Ordering what you think you should eat at a restaurant rather than ordering what you want.
  17. Avoiding sugar because you heard it is “addicting”
  18. Not eating processed foods.
  19. Only eating foods with ingredients you can pronounce.

Common Diet Culture Sayings

Diet talk is involved in most of our conversations. Imagine a day out with your friends. How many times do you hear these 15 examples of diet talk while you were out?

piece of bread with a sad face drawn on it with text that says cheating on your diet is diet culture.
  1. “I’m off carbs.”
  2. “I can’t eat that.”
  3. “I only drink beer on Saturdays.”
  4. “My trainer said I should only eat whole foods.”
  5. “Weekends are my cheat days.”
  6. “If I eat white foods, I’ll get fat.”
  7. “My kids don’t eat sugar. It’s bad for them.”
  8. “I shouldn’t snack. It will ruin my diet.”
  9. “I was bad this weekend.”
  10. “I cheated on my diet.”
  11. “I’m going to work off my dinner at the gym.”
  12. “I need to try harder to lose weight.”
  13. “I need to fix my body.”
  14. “I’m going to start being healthy on Monday.”
  15. “They’d be cute if they just lost some weight.”

Noticing Diet Influences In Your Life?

What did you think about those lists? How much diet talk did you experience this week?

Probably a lot!

When I started noticing all the diet influences in my life, it was overwhelming. I felt gross and taken advantage of my diet culture. I still get irritated and, sometimes, angry when I see diet talk in advertisements and the media.

Know that this is normal. It shows that you are seeking out freedom from diets and diet talk.

Unfortunately, reading these things may sometimes try to pull you in. You may read that diet headline and think, “should I be doing that too?”

When this happens, don’t be too hard on yourself. You have heard diet messages your whole life. Those messages may always be in the back of your mind. Just know that you don’t have to participate in diets just because it is so common.

Remind yourself that everyone on their quest to escape dieting and weight loss has experienced this.

Find Your Freedom From Diets

Getting complete freedom from diet culture takes a lot of work. Your first step is noticing all the ways diet culture is a part of your life. The diet culture examples above will enable you to point out all the sneaky diet talk in your life.

Keep an eye out for our future article that breaks down steps to break free from diet culture.

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