The ‘Anti-Diet Movement’: Why Ditching Diets May be Best for Your Health (and Your Weight!)

Joanna Foley

by | Updated: June 29th, 2020 | Read time: 5 minutes

It’s no secret that views about health, wellness and the “right” way to eat have been shifting in recent years. People are beginning to question the validity behind fad diets and strict weight-loss methods, and they’re becoming more aware that there may be better options out there.

Yet, with the media continuing to promote dieting as a means to wellness, there’s understandably some confusion about what the best approach actually is, since not dieting is contrary to what has been promoted in Western society for hundreds of years.

The emerging “anti-diet movement” could be the best thing that’s happened to our culture when it comes to health. Let’s dive into what exactly this movement is and how it can support your well-being, and review some tips for participating in it amidst a still diet-obsessed world.

Woman Abandoning Diet Trends Tasting Healthy Green Smoothie Right From Her Blender |

What is the Anti-Diet Movement?

Put simply, the anti-diet movement is about believing and accepting the fact that diets don’t work long-term, and about refusing to believe that you have to restrict yourself in order to be healthy or happy. It also involves choosing not to engage in behaviors that support the diet industry. The movement is more than just disagreeing with fad diets, but fully and completely rejecting what has become known as “diet culture.”

“Diet culture” refers to a society and set of beliefs that:

  • Promotes weight loss as a means of achieving a higher moral status (i.e. you’re a “better” person if you are thinner or engage in dieting behavior).
  • Views being thin as the primary indicator of health and instead supports a “health at every size” approach.
  • Labels foods as either “good” or “bad” and inflicts guilt on certain eating habits while elevating others.
  • Inflicts shame on people who don’t meet the ideal picture of “health” (which is often defined by the media).
  • And much more…

Keep in mind that you don’t have to participate in a particular diet to be caught up in diet culture. It is possible (and very common) to engage in diet culture simply by thoughts you have about food, words you tell yourself or others, how you view weight and beliefs you have about what health is, just as examples.

The anti-diet movement promotes the belief that food choices don’t need to be policed, and that weight is not the only or even the most important marker of health, which is supported by research.

Why Rejecting Diet Culture May be Just What You Need

If you’re someone who has ever dieted, you know firsthand the struggle that often accompanies trying to follow a specific diet plan that almost always involves some form of restriction. You may have lost some weight, yet might have gained it back (which, unfortunately, happens in a majority of cases). While the media continues to promote trendy diet plans and highlights various foods and eating styles that promise to be the “solution” to your health or weight problems, you may be questioning whether trying another diet is the best course of action for you.

This is where and why rejecting diet culture could be the best thing that ever happened to your health and mindset about food and weight. It is a completely different approach that says “goodbye” to restriction, deprivation and guilt, and instead embraces balance and a much more sustainable lifestyle.

By not dieting, you’ll have the opportunity to learn what does and doesn’t make your body feel its best, and will learn to choose what you want to eat based on that. The freedom this provides is truly unmatched.

Rejecting diet culture doesn’t mean forgetting about health. It also doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to desire to change your weight. It just means acknowledging that health is so much more than the food on your plate, and that how much you weigh is a small factor in a much larger picture of health. You can absolutely choose to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle while also rejecting diet culture.

This concept ties into the principles of intuitive eating Ultimately, rejecting diet culture can positively impact ALL areas of your health, including physical, mental and emotional well being.

Tips for Living an Anti-Diet Lifestyle in a Diet-Obsessed World

You may now be wondering what living out this new “anti-diet” lifestyle looks like, especially in a society that still praises dieting and weight loss as a means to better health.

Here are some tips to implement and keep in mind:

Food has no moral value.

You’re not a “bad” person for eating a doughnut, nor are you a “good” person for eating kale. The more you can accept this truth, the better, and the more freedom you will experience.

Focus on ways you can support your health that are independent of weight loss.

As mentioned, weight is just one small aspect of health. Can you exercise because it feels good and makes you stronger, and not as a means to lose weight? Can you start taking certain supplements because you believe they will support a certain condition you are trying to manage? Can you start eating more fruits and vegetables because it will increase the nutritional quality of your diet and not because they are “good” foods? These are all examples of health behaviors that are hugely impactful for reasons completely separate from weight.

Remember that you have a choice.

You don’t have to engage in diet talk or trends, and it’s more than OK not to. By not participating, you protect yourself from talk that may make you feel guilty or angry, without supporting a point of view you don’t agree with.

Be prepared to deal with objections.

You may get some pushback when people discover that you don’t support dieting or other diet culture behaviors. People may think that you don’t care about health or are supporting an overweight lifestyle. This will no doubt be challenging to address, yet will become easier over time. Share with others your reasons for your beliefs to help them understand, and perhaps encourage them to adopt a similar approach.

Respect opinions that differ from your own.

Remember that people have the freedom to do what they want with their health and bodies. If someone wants to lose weight because they have experienced persecution due to their body size, it’s important to recognize that that is a very real problem, and to respect their decision to seek out weight loss in the manner of their choice. Your job is never to convince people that your beliefs are the only way, or that desiring weight loss is wrong, so remember to continually practice kindness and respect toward others.

In summary

The anti-diet movement is for everyone. It’s about embracing a different approach to wellness and recognizing that your body is unique and is worthy of proper nourishment, respect and love, regardless of its size, the eating style you engage in, or even the health conditions you’re living with. If any of this resonates with you, be thinking about what action you can take to start living a more anti-diet lifestyle today.