Diet Culture: Sahel Season is Almost Here and Everyone Is Getting Ready

By: Zeina Amr

Don’t eat kunafa. Cut all types of carbs. Balash moz w bateekh beytakhano. Boso di guilt-free recipe lel burger. Starve yourself for 3 days so you can have a flat belly. Drink nothing but detox water for 3 days. Yalla nerooh le Dr el diet besor3a. Tab yalla ne3mel el diet da I found it online and I’ll lose 5 kgs in a week. Omg ramadan arrab yekhlas and I didn’t lose my kersh! Boys: yalla nenzel el gym we need a 6 pack ASAP, estargel keda w doos 3ala nafsak, 3AASSH!
These are just some of the phrases that are currently invading our lives that you probably don’t even notice how toxic they are.

I know most people reading this will think it’s perfectly normal and I’m just overreacting but let me break it to you. Diet culture by definition is a system of beliefs that: Worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue, which means you can spend your whole life thinking you’re irreparably broken just because you don’t look like the impossibly thin “ideal.”
Tab eh el moshkela ma kolena 3ayzeen nekhes? Now we’re at the root of the problem. Why? Why do 90% of the people I know feel like they should lose some weight. Why are the majority trying to look like the minority they see on instagram?

Simply put: diet culture. It’s become engraved in our minds and a part of our lives; this obsession with thinness and ‘body goals’ is trapping a crazy amount of people in a vicious cycle of dieting.

It’s become okay to eat your kunafa with guilt and punish yourself with exercise afterwards to try and feel less guilty. It’s become okay (and even praised as determination) to starve yourself or have an unbalanced diet to lose as much weight as you can. It’s become a routine to count your calories, obsess over every tiny bit of food you eat and ignore what your body’s literally begging you for. Tolerating hunger is now an accomplishment.

Still not convinced? How many times have you ate less before an important event (prom for example)? Did you ever think about losing some weight after a breakup and getting that ‘revenge body’? Despite being completely satisfied with your body image at the time you still subconsciously thought that thinner is better. How many times have you felt guilty after eating a high-calorie meal? Have you felt anxious at restaurant before wondering if you should go with a pizza or a salad? Even if you’re not on a diet, we’re literally programmed to feel this way! (I sometimes have some guilt after indulging in something I love and it honestly makes me angry) If you’re thinking tab ehna khasraneen eh?

You’re losing your self worth, your health, probably destroying your relationship with food and let’s not get into the fact this whole diet thing is a capitalist scam. The number of businesses profiting off your self-doubt and desire to have an ‘ideal/flawless’ body is insane. From gyms to dance studios to the whole beauty industry and restaurants that try to sell you thinness in their ‘skinny’ omelettes and ‘guilt-free’ meals. They all claim that their purpose is health or wellness but that is utter bullshit if we’re being honest. Wellness and health have nothing to do with diet culture because even if you look physically healthier the impact on your mental health is still huge.

Now let’s get some facts straight in case you still think diet culture is harmless. 2/3 women are on a diet, 1.6 million people are diagnosed with an eating disorder (mostly ages 14-25). Dieting is the number 1 risk to developing an eating disorder, actually, people who diet are 8 times more susceptible.  

If you’re on a diet, this is not an attack on you or your lifestyle. The purpose of this is not to judge you because all of us internalized diet culture to an extent. However, most of us are oblivious to how dieting is fucking us up and I needed to do something about it. Telling you to just quit the diet and embrace your body loving every inch of it will be the most cliche (and useless) conclusion ever so I’ll just leave it with this: if you were 100% sure that your ‘healthy lifestyle’ (that includes removing entire food groups from your diet and probably hitting the gym) had no impact on your weight, would you still do it?

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