4 Techniques I Use to Avoid Falling Into Diet Culture Traps

Celebrating holidays with groups of people heavily steeped in diet culture can be really hard for those of us in recovery, and that’s exactly what happened on Easter Sunday.

There was so much lovely food to enjoy and so many comments about good/bad food, being good/bad based on food decisions, and plans to “burn it all off” tomorrow.

It was a really tough day in my practice of standing in the Truth of my body.

After what I felt was one particularly pointed comment about my weight, I found myself deciding to relapse, to fall comfortably back into my old pattern of just not eating.

That decision felt really good for about one minute. Like it was the answer I’d been dancing around that was just so darn obvious. Until my healthy thoughts kicked in and took over.

How did I do this?

One of my favorite tools to use in my recovery is something I call “minding your Ps and Qs.” It stands for pause and question.

I can apply this to diet ads, book titles, weight loss claims on magazine covers, and most importantly, my own thoughts and skewed beliefs.

Usually what that sounds like in my head is, “Wait a minute… that doesn’t sound right.”

So when I paused long enough to question the idea of falling back into old familiar patterns, my own answer surprised me. Here’s how the internal dialogue went:

Higher Me: What will starving yourself really accomplish?

Me: It will keep me from feeling this way. [Oh, ew, the root of all addiction.]

Higher Me: Keep you from feeling WHAT way? Let’s unpack that.

Me: It will keep me from feeling unlovable. [!!!]

Higher Me: First of all “unlovable” is a belief, not a feeling. Second of all, is that REALLY true? Are you indeed “unlovable?”

Me: Maybe?

Higher Me: Really, that’s how we’re going to do this? [Higher Me don’t play, y’all.]

Me: No, of course it’s not true.

And at that moment, I could breathe. I could feel space around me, and I felt the earth beneath my feet. I felt connected to my own divine spark again.

Here’s what this whole thing reminded me: my self-care practices are critical to my continued recovery. When we’re stressed, we tend to fall back to old patterns. When I’m honest about it, I see that I have been stressed lately and letting some of my simplest self-care fall to the bottom of the list.

Along with that- pauses are critical. Questioning is critical! So in order to keep my eye on the ball, I have to be extra diligent about the practices that I know support this process, like meditation, moving my body, and mindful cooking and eating.

As I’ve implemented these practices over the years, along with Ps and Qs, I’ve come to clearly see that my body IS divine wisdom, and she knows way more than my ED or than diet culture.

4 ways to avoid falling into diet culture traps

If the idea of P’s and Q’s resonates for you, here’s how you can start implementing it into your thought process:

1. Pause every day

Practice pausing every day with a some kind of meditation practice.

This can be as simple as pausing for one deep breath before you answer your ringing phone, or as elaborate as creating a “meditation nook” in your home. The idea is to give your mind some space. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

2. Exercise your own skepticism

Don’t believe anything just because you hear it, and this applies to your own thoughts.

Truth-seeking is a life-long endeavor, so be sweet to yourself as you begin the practice of questioning.

3. Find the right words for your “Higher Self” to say

As I mentioned, for me, it’s “Wait a minute….that doesn’t sound right.” But for you it might be, “I don’t know about that…” or, if your Higher Self voice is super formal, “There seems to be an untruth abounding here.”

4. Remember, it’s all a process

As you get really acquainted with points 1-3, you’ll witness a marvelous unfolding of Truth, rather than a flip of the switch.

Cultivating true love

Hope these tips can help you when you feel yourself falling into a diet culture trap!

Let me leave you with this thought about my relationship with my body (maybe you can relate as well): As I continue to cultivate a trusting relationship with my body, she continues to carry me, lovingly and unfailingly, even during those moments when I’m not very nice to her. That, my friends, is true love.

P.S. Remember that “pointed comment about my weight” that triggered this whole thing? When I paused and questioned that, it was just a question someone asked me (a person who loves me ever so much!) and wasn’t meant to be a jab or a judgment. It was just a question.

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  1. says: Rose Kress

    Oh Beth, I love this! Your candor helps me to see the ways in which I respond to triggers about weight. I don’t change eating habits but I do speak negatively to myself and feel bad for days. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m going to mind my Ps and Qs, because you are correct, “that doesn’t sound right.”

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