About the Episode

In this episode, Melanie explores anti-diet culture and its relationship with body positivity. She defines diet culture as a system of oppression that centres thin, able-bodied people and promotes weight loss and food restrictions. Melanie emphasises that ditching diets is just the starting point of the anti-diet journey and that it requires ongoing self-reflection and compassion. She also discusses the intersectionality of diet culture with racism, ableism, sexism, and social economics. The episode concludes with a journal prompt for listeners to deepen their own anti-diet work.

Topics discussed in episode 001

  • Diet culture is a system of oppression that promotes weight loss and demonises certain foods.
  • Ditching diets is the first step in the anti-diet journey, but it requires ongoing self-reflection and compassion.
  • Diet culture intersects with racism, ableism, sexism, and social economics.
  • Body positivity should include all marginalised bodies, not just those who lose weight.
  • Journaling can be a helpful tool for exploring and deepening anti-diet work.


    00:00 Introduction to Anti-Diet Culture

    03:19 Understanding Diet Culture

    06:29 The Complexity of Ditching Diets

    09:28 The Intersectionality of Diet Culture

    11:14 Expanding Body Positivity

    12:32 The Role of Journaling in Anti-Diet Work


Melanie [she/her] (00:02)
Hey friends, welcome to episode one of the Culture for All podcast. I am your host, Melanie Knights, and I am thrilled to be sitting down with you for our very first episode and to start exploring what it really means to ditch diet culture whilst living life in a larger body. In today’s episode, we are going to be answering the question, what is anti -diet culture? What does it mean?

Now before we get into today’s episode I do just want to say that we are going to be talking about diet culture. We’re going to touch a little bit on diets and weight loss but not really any specifics and we are going to talk about the body positivity movement. As always though if as you listen to today’s episode you need to pause please do so. Take a moment come back when you’re ready and if you’re not ready that’s okay next week’s episode will be out. So…

If you are looking for a glossary of terms I have created an entire anti -diet culture glossary. You can find it pinned on my Instagram page which is @CultureOfItAllPod or over on my website at outlawcreatives .com/glossary. So on to today’s topic which is what is anti -diet culture? What does it really mean? Is it as simple as giving up diets which isn’t really as simple?

And where does body positivity fit in to all of that? These are really great questions. These are questions that I have absolutely had and many, many more as I’ve navigated my own anti -diet work and my own intuitive eating journey over the last few years. One of the things I encourage everyone to do is be curious as you navigate your own anti -diet work, your own journey. What does that look like? Well,

It looks like asking yourself questions, “I wonder why I chose X instead of Y?”, or “I’m curious to know more about blank.” “This is really interesting. I wonder how this has been reflected in my own life?” When we are curious, it allows us to be free from self -judgment. We’re not passing on blame or shame to ourselves. Instead, we’re asking questions.

and hopefully exploring those deeper in whichever way feels most comfortable for us. For me that’s been journaling. So I do want to firstly state that this journey does look different for everyone. I’m not here to judge you or where you’re starting from or any of the steps that you might take as you navigate your own anti -diet work. I will share experiences and lessons from my own journey because shared stories and experiences are important.

important part of connection and community. And in retrospect, I spent many years feeling like I was alone. I was the only person with these thoughts, feelings and emotions. The rise of social media does have a positive part to play in this story because it has allowed me to hear other people’s stories. It’s allowed me to see and find other bodies that look like mine and find community and support online. So.

What is diet culture? Diet culture is a system of oppression which centres white, thin, able -bodied people. It associates health with thinner bodies and it actively promotes weight loss and demonises certain foods, attaching virtue to what we eat and labelling it as good or bad. Diet culture is so much more than

the latest fad diet program, a food list, or even a goopy wellness trend, it’s about the culture of it all. And it’s part of our everyday life.

Diet culture impacts us all, and as Christy Harrison says, it disproportionately harms women, femmes, trans folks, people in larger bodies, people of colour, and people with disabilities. This is why ditching diet culture is complex and goes beyond just the diets themselves. It is an ongoing practice. We’ve all heard the stats that tell us that diets don’t work.

And it’s true, there is no long -term weight loss solution. Now, giving up dieting has positively impacted my own life. Unpacking the microaggressions of diet culture and my own internalized anti -fatness, that is complicated and crunchy and it’s been layered in 20 plus years of being told to fear my fat body.

Now, when I started my anti -diet journey, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t wake up one day and say, well, I’m tired of this bullshit, I’m just going to stop. It’s not that simple. One of the first things I did do was to ditch diets. But with years of diet cycling in my past, restrictions and food rules were instinctive. It was a part of my everyday life.

And in retrospect, ditching diets started my own journey. What came later was, and has been, more complicated. It’s required a lot of compassion and self -trust. I’ve often been left with more questions than answers. It’s required a lot of self -coaching and asking questions that I genuinely don’t feel like I know the answer to.

And also looking at questions that might seem really obvious at times, yet, they’re not, right? It’s complex, it’s nuanced. So the way I see it is that ditching diets is an individual action. Yes, it positively impacts our own lives and it is exactly where I started my own journey. Giving up diets is part of the intuitive eating framework.

and it’s what we can do on an individual level to support collective progress. In reality, our bodies are going to change for all kinds of reasons over the course of our lives. That is one of the things that, in retrospect, seems really obvious, but for a really long time wasn’t.

The idea that our body should be the same as it was when we were in our late teens is wildly unrealistic for a majority of people. Life happens. Our bodies change. Whether it’s through illness or age or parenting or any other number of things, it is not just about food. Which is what the diet industry and many, and I use this term very loosely, medical professionals

want us to believe. When we give up dieting we might gain weight and this is where things can start to feel a little bit crunchy. How we feel about that body change is in my opinion one of the main differences between ditching diets and divesting or ditching diet culture. If our reaction to body change is rooted in shame,

If we reach for rules or restrictions around food and movements, these are dieting behaviours. These behaviours are rooted in the culture of all. They are part of the beliefs and the myths that make up this system of oppression. Now, these beliefs range from social media messaging that health has a certain size, to questionable governmental statistics and studies that

publicly pass blame for societal issues onto the lives of folks in larger bodies.

More recently, we’ve seen conversations about the body positivity movement, specifically larger bodied celebrities, influencers and creators who’ve shown up online promoting body positivity, using it as part of their platforms for messaging and a growth strategy. Then they go on to intentionally lose weight. Now,

I am anti -diet. I am not anti -dieter. On an individual level people can choose what to do and whether or not they want to change their bodies. On a collective level these actions without any context can cause harm to their communities and they will uphold the system of diet culture.

There’s an ongoing debate as to whether weight loss should be part of body positivity messaging, because the belief is that when you lose weight you are happy. For context, that wasn’t my own personal experience, we’ll cover that in another episode. But by following this train of thought, larger bodies are once again marginalised. And this validates the myth that you can only be body positive once you lose weight.

We absolutely all have the right to body positivity and to feel safe and comfortable in our own bodies. But as Tigress Osborn wrote in the BBC article about the history of body positivity, body positivity is nothing without its fat activist grandparents of all genders. It’s also nothing without the black women and femmes who amplified the message at the beginning of the trend.

The women who wrote the Fat Manifesto ended it by saying, we commit ourselves to pursue these goals together. If together doesn’t include the fat people and black people who made body positivity possible, as well as other marginalised bodies, it’s not body positivity at all.

Ditching diet culture is about more than the diets themselves. It supports collective progress towards dismantling a system of oppression.

Because we can’t talk about diet culture, fat liberation, and the body positivity movement without talking about racism, ableism, sexism, and social economics.

As we come to an end of today’s episode, I want to leave you with a journal prompt that you can explore, and hopefully deepen your own anti -diet work. As I said at the beginning of the show, approach these prompts with curiosity instead of self -judgment, and always take what resonates and just leave the rest. If this prompt doesn’t do it for you, that is okay. I’m a big fan of journaling. It is

When do I feel positive about my body? And do I have a set of conditions associated with these feelings? There is no right or wrong way to answer this question. Explore it from curiosity. Be compassionate towards yourself. And allow your paper and pen to take you where you need to go.

helped me on my own anti -diet journey and with my intuitive eating and often times journaling allows us to express our feelings, our thoughts, and sometimes we have more questions than answers but we can use those to continue the exploration. If you’re not a journaller, that is fine. Perhaps just think about the question.

Think about what it means to you.