What diet culture gets wrong about healthy eating

My boyfriend and I generally eat the same thing (especially when I’m cooking), but sometimes we’ll have to create two different meals (time allowing) because we have different nutritional requirements. For example, he is gluten intolerant, while I have a thyroid issue that slightly alters the way I metabolize food (although this is largely stabilized by hormonal medication). Nonetheless, I noticed that in diet culture we so often forget that everyone has an individual, personal version of healthy eating. Most of the diet advice out there won’t apply to me because of my lack of a thyroid gland. Yes a lot of people probably have many things in common with regards to a healthy diet- vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meat, fats, not overeating junk food, etc etc. But as we see food allergies and food intolerances increase statistically, particularly in Western societies, it seems that one monolithic diet culture just fails to accommodate and work for everyone (if anyone?).

Even within a particular health disorder or problem, the effects and manifestation of that disorder might vary quite a lot from person to person. Two people with hypothyroidism or gluten intolerance might handle foods very differently from each other, because we all have different genetic and environmental factors that are affecting our health.

Another thing I have noticed popping up more and more recently is people fighting back against the moralization of food. I am all for this. Food inherently has no moral value. In fact, it should have more positive than negative value if anything. It literally keeps us going, nourishes us and gives us pleasure. But the over-moralization of food, for example “treat meals” or “guilty indulgences” begins to subconsciously associate food with our value as a person - this makes no sense. But this idea does benefit the diet industry because it means we place even more moral importance in the food we eat, so we must choose and buy more carefully, right?

Again, the solution here is to be mindful of the messages you are receiving, especially those involuntarily. Unfollow the instagram accounts that encourage punishing yourself for eating. Our entire history has taught us that negative feedback does not encourage a “positive behavior”. The conclusion to all this? Healthy eating does not equal being a good person.

I hope that people begin to look more critically at diets, especially elimination diets (the worst), and think about what works for them. What works for someone else might have a completely undesired effect on you - it’s a completely personal thing and I think the more we realize and accept that, the less damage we do to ourselves by relentlessly buying into the “ideal life” that diet cultures promise us.