Breaking Down Diet Culture

Verywell Fit aims to reduce weight bias, increase inclusivity, and shift the social conversation around weight loss and bodies

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Diet Culture?

    Diet culture is the pervasive belief that appearance and body shape are more important than physical, psychological, and general well-being. Diet culture perpetuates the idea that controlling your body, specifically your diet—by limiting what and how much you eat—is normal. It promotes thinness and aligns lower weights with higher moral virtue. It naturally oppresses people who don't fit into this small picture of "health."

    Diet culture also normalizes labeling foods and habits as good or bad. Instead of a source of nutrition, food is thought of as transactional—something that you either earn or don't deserve depending on what you've eaten throughout the day and how hard you've worked out.

  • Why is Diet Culture toxic?

    Diet culture is a system of beliefs that creates a very narrow-minded way of looking at health. It equates thinness with health and suggests that anything outside of these parameters is unhealthy. The results of this pervasive, social construct are potentially toxic to mind and body: it may result in poor self-image, disordered eating, and depression.

  • How can I be more inclusive?

    Education is the key to being more inclusive. Commit to educating yourself about potential bias, respective language, and other people's experiences.

Key Terms

Page Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wolfram, T. Food & Nutrition. Understanding Weight Neutrality.

  2. Tylka TL, Annunziato RA, Burgard D, et al. The weight-inclusive versus weight-normative approach to health: evaluating the evidence for prioritizing well-being over weight lossJournal of Obesity. 2014;2014:1-18. doi:10.1155/2014/983495