by christine victoria alexander

Thursday, August 27, 2020


I recently had a talk with a friend about this and wanted to share a little more about it here. Diet culture. What do I mean by that? I'm talking about rigid eating patterns, that, on the surface, are in the name of health, but in reality are about weight, shape or size. Conversations about weight, diets, good/bad foods, cutting carbs, detoxing, cleansing, calorie count, macros, etc. Exercise as a mode of weight loss, or as a punishment for eating. Praising body shape over body health.

You see, diet culture gets in our heads. It makes us feel shame and guilt. It destroys our relationship with food. It ruins our digestion, ruins our health, but worst of all, diet culture normalizes eating disorders. You may know someone who measures all their food and sticks to their diet 100% and works out every day and checks the menu before eating out to make sure they can find something that fits their macros. Guess what? That's someone obsessed with food, not health. That's diet culture. 

I struggled in my late teens/early twenties with my relationship to food. I loved working out, I loved reading health articles and fitness magazines. I was a gym rat. But, unfortunately, my obsession with health turned into an obsession with looking a certain way and eating a certain way. When I didn't meet my own strict standard of health I felt like I had failed. I went around and around in a vicious cycle of starting, failing, and restarting for years. All in the name of health. I really thought there was something wrong with me - that I had zero self control for not being able to stick to my rigid protocol of what a healthy body, diet and lifestyle looked like. 

I'll add here that my parents sensed something was wrong while I was still living at home and tried to help, but I just wasn't ready and didn't accept their help. I shared my struggle with my husband and spent the first few years of our marriage in a very dark and depressing place. I look back at pictures from then and hardly recognize myself. For someone obsessed with "health" I looked the furthest thing from it. 

It wasn't until I got pregnant with my daughter Olive that I realized I was ready. I didn't want to raise a daughter with this "sickness". I didn't want to try and hide it from her my whole life. I wanted her to have a healthy relationship with food. I wanted to be an example to her of what health and vitality looked like. I wanted her to view food and exercise through a completely different lens than I did. And I knew that was only possible if I healed myself first. 

I worked with an incredible therapist that dealt specifically in eating disorders and by the time Olive was born I had a completely new relationship with food. In May of the following year, on my 25th birthday, I shared with my parents and siblings the struggle I had faced and we celebrated together my freedom from the sick thinking that had weighed me down for years. 

The biggest lesson I took away from my wonderful therapist was this: Food is fuel. Food is energy. That's exactly how I'm teaching my children to view food. Food gives us the energy to swim and dance and play and be mommies and daddies. Food fuels us up for a hike, or a run, or a long day working in the garden. Food is medicine. Food helps keep us warm and healthy in the winter. Food keeps us cool and hydrated in the summer. 

I like to encourage my girls to be active everyday - I don't call it a workout, I don't tell them they have to workout so we can go eat lunch. I teach them how sweating helps our bodies. I teach them how resting helps our bodies. I teach them how my prenatal workouts keep my core strong to hold baby until baby comes out. We ride bikes and we go to the tennis court and we play frisbee in the backyard and none of that has to do with looking a certain way - it has to do with feeling a certain way: full of energy and full of life! I hope they always hold onto that mindset. 

Let's ditch diet culture and raise the next generation to understand that health is not a jeans size. Health is loving life and loving yourself enough to fuel your body with foods that make you feel vibrant and beautiful and strong every single day!

I would love to hear your thoughts or your personal journey! Comment or send me an email! xx


1 comment

  1. It was difficult for your mother and I to get on this sheet of music together early on. I would eat anything, when I was hungry, because "food is nothing more than fuel." I'm so glad to hear that you've come to that same mindset. Your mother has as well, and we're the better for it, because she's a great cook. Our desire it to live long, live well and spend healthy days with our many wonderful grandchildren. Of course, spending time with our own children is a big plus too! Thanks for sharing, Christine.


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