In this blog post, let’s challenge the idea of “that’s what everyone does” and get clear about what you really need to thrive in your relationship with food – belonging.

Image of people in circle and hands touching in the middle. Text reads "challenging diet culture to find true belonging."

We all have five basic needs when it comes to survival – Food, water, clothing, sleep, and shelter.

Beyond that, at least according to Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs, we need safety and then we need love and belonging.

We are wired to belong, be in relationship and be connected.

Our early, foundational relationships shape how we get our needs met in our environment and shape our experience of belonging. 

Many times, when our needs go unmet in those early relationships, we can struggle to trust our own experiences.

When this happens we have to learn to have enough authenticity and agency to know our bodies and to be listened to.

When we lack those basic supports in our lives, we can also lack values and boundaries. We can find ourselves going with the ‘cultural flow’. This includes dieting, body bashing, being worried about spring / summer bodies, etc.

So what happens when we challenge this ‘cultural flow’ and do something different? Maybe thoughts of being unlovable, not accepted or alone can come up. 

Here are three ways you can challenge the cultural flow, navigate diet culture and find belonging : 

  1. Create a compassionate witness. Know who you are and that you’re inherently lovable no matter what my body is, how smart I am, or whether I am fully functional. You are not eliminated from being loved.
  2. Grow your window of tolerance and your ability to be a wise-minded compassionate adult. You can unblend and separate the part of you that says it’s not okay for you to be yourself and who wasn’t able to set boundaries when you were made to feel too much or too big.
  3. What are your true values? If you have to participate in behaviors or ways of things that are harmful to you just to belong (i.e. diet culture), we need to evaluate what our place is within those environments. Is it worth the cost to be a part of that system? Knowing your values and boundaries can act as the plumbline to base everything else off of.

It can be hard to not go with the cultural flow when it comes to diet culture. Whether it’s dieting, body bashing, worried about spring / summer bodies, etc. we can easily get caught in the cycle these bring.

What will happen when you disengage from diet culture? Maybe you have thoughts that you’ll be unloveable, not accepted, alone?