We hear a lot about diet culture, but now we’re hearing about something called wellness culture. What is it and what are the dangers?

Because dieting has become toxic to marketers, they’ve began labeling their efforts more innocuously as “wellness.”  After all we want to be healthy and well don’t we? It feels better to say we’re eating less for our health rather than we are just vain about our looks doesn’t it?

The problem is that this wrapper of wellness, well-being, or health is often only a cover up for the same old failed diets. Lina Galatola’s beautiful story of her recovery from wellness culture illustrates how wellness can go wrong.

As shown by the Healthy At Every Size (HAES) movement, weight does not equal health. You can be healthy at every size and you can also be unhealthy at every size. Calorie restriction, rigid food rules, and deprivation don’t work for long term health or weight. True wellness initiatives look past weight to other factors that have greater influence on our actual health and longevity such as our social networks and our physical activity.

So, one danger of wellness culture is that it overly focuses on weight as a marker of health. A second is that it can lead to obsession with healthy habits to the point that they become unhealthy. And a third is that through increasingly rigid thinking, everything becomes something that will either keep you alive or kill you. And this rigid thinking leads to self- doubt, guilt, and shame – none of which promote actual wellness.

Working toward healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle is commendable. But don’t get trapped along the way into diets by any other name or well-being initiatives that aren’t pursing actual health.

Sincerely,

Lisa

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This week I’m getting back to basics and re-reading Intuitive Eating – A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole, RD and Elyse Resch, RD. In the future I will be writing further about adopting intuitive eating. This book is a great place to start for anyone wanting to understand what it is and how to begin.

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