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Exploring the "die" in diet culture

I love eating. Wherever I go, food is the only thing that I care about, especially junk food. How many of you are guilty of snacking on a big packet of Lays while watching your favourite show or quietly sneaking out of your room once everyone has fallen asleep and finishing that tub of chocolate fudge ice cream? I know I am. There is nothing compared to having hot chai and pakoras in the rain or having ice gola to beat the summer heat. And the way that sukha puri hits after a spicy plate of pani puri no, uff, thinking about it only makes my mouth water. If you are a foodie like me, you must have been a victim of several comments made by people, especially about your weight.

“Itni moti ho gayi hai, diet shiet karlo na” is something my mom heard constantly when we had relatives over. At some point, even my neighbours started giving us muft ka gyaan but even though I did not allow it to get to me, my mother was bothered by it. I was put on a diet to decrease weight. I know this is the case in many households. We are always told to maintain our weight so that we are “suitable” for marriage. I agree that food is an essential part of wellness and a healthy lifestyle but it does not mean starving yourself to “look” fit. People have created a myth that if you are thin, you are doing healthy but at the same time, if you are too thin, you are compared to a stick or paper. Our society has given so much importance to the way people look, that, it has created a fear among people like you and me- fear of not being enough. To understand what I am talking about, why don’t we tell you about the infamous concept of “Diet Culture”

What is Diet Culture? It refers to a set of beliefs that worships thinness and equates it with health and moral virtue, according to the anti-diet dietitian, Christy Harrison, author of Anti-Diet. It assumes that thin people are more healthy and fit. This type of culture glorifies being thin as the right body size. How many of you felt that Bhumi Padnekar from Dum Laga Ke Haisha looks better right now than she did in the movie now that she is tiptop and fit? We are not attacking you- we are merely highlighting the fact that we have set such expectations for the people in our society. Diet culture can be found in Kareena Kapoor’s 24-inch waist, which influences perceptions of what an “ideal” body should look like. It can be seen in you editing your photos or face-tuning it to have defined cheekbones or to look slimmer. Dost, this should not be the case.

Why is Diet Culture unhealthy? Though healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes, our societal encounters create a huge impact on a person's size — weight stigma and thin privilege are both very real — and no one is immune to diet culture's stigma. Even those with "average" or slender bodies can have the feeling that they aren't thin enough in certain areas. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in November 2020 that more people are dieting now than they were ten years ago. With this being said, we are not against someone wanting to get healthy, we are just against the diet culture. Did you know that body shaming, body discrimination, and disordered eating are all fuelled by diet culture? It instils the false belief that eating certain foods and living in a certain body improves one's worth. Moving away from the Diet Culture The whole point is, you should not have to feel guilty for having that chocolate fudge ice cream and spend the next day at the gym, burning it out. There are so many alternates to dieting- one of them is called intuitive eating. It's basically the polar opposite of a traditional diet. It doesn't give you any rules about what to eat or when to eat it. Intuitive eating empowers you to understand your body's hunger signals. Click on the link to read more about intuitive eating and how it helps you become healthy. Do you know all the fancy food items you buy thinking they will help you lose weight efficiently can all be replaced by simple ingredients that are available at home? Ingredients like turmeric, imli, daliya, pista etc are all ingredients we grew up with, right? Simple recipes like khichdi or dal are very effective. They not only help in keeping you healthy but also have numerous benefits in maintaining the body’s homeostasis. We have said it once, we will say it again- if you know of such recipes, treasure them and take care of them like your babies because these are so rich in nutrients that you don’t need any diet shiet. You can say goodbye to them along with those relatives

Looking at the healthier side of it Many now prefer eating food that is consumed by influencers. These include aesthetically pleasing platters like a smoothie bowl, avocado toast or salads. While these food items may be healthy and filled with nutrients, a really important question comes into the picture- why eat western food when you have got your own desi food? Honestly, who wouldn’t want to come home after a long day at work and cook up something light like Poha or simply snack on Dhoklas? Or would you prefer to have a muffin and call it a day? I know we all want Kendall Jenner’s body but, in a world full of Kardashians and Shilpa Shetty, be yourself. Eat what you want but be mindful and do not stuff yourself. Do not feel guilty about eating chocolate- don’t worry, we will not rat you out to Sharmaji. Being the big foodie that I am, I literally eat whatever I want. Over the years, I have learnt that I can substitute a few ingredients in the recipe with healthier ones. If you feel like eating a sandwich but want it to be healthy, either switch to brown bread or make sure the filling is filled with veggies. You can prepare the food that you love but with a healthy twist. But if you do not like it, it doesn’t matter, you can always switch back to white bread or any bread of your choice. What matters is that you are happy eating that sandwich and it satisfies you.

Go ahead and put that extra slice of cheese on maggi or put that extra spoon of Nutella in your milkshake if it makes you happy. I know that having the second butter masala dosa from my favourite restaurant or making Gigi Hadid’s Pasta makes me happy and I will continue doing that because there is no other feeling like the satisfaction of yummy food.

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