Note: This post contains mentions of disordered eating.
Diet culture is — to put it simply — all around us at all times. It can be as obvious as watching a celeb-endorsed Weight Watchers ad, or as low-key as hearing someone rave about how "energetic" they feel after a round of Whole30. The point is it's essentially impossible to live in modern-day society without having the *magic of diets* waved in front of your face 24/7.
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One person who is aiming to change that is Sam Previte. As a registered dietitian and someone who has struggled with disordered eating herself, she's taken to TikTok (where she's racked up more than a half million subscribers 🔥) to share more about her relationship to food — and help others with theirs.
Sam's philosophy as an RD differs from many others in the "diet" space. She's a big proponent of intuitive eating, and says she's on a mission to help folks remove the guilt and shame they associate with food — not lose weight.
Her TikTok-approved approach may be new, but the concept of intuitive eating is anything but. Registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch first published the book Intuitive Eating back in 1995, which paved the way for the practice's rise in popularity in recent years. (The #intuitiveeating hashtag currently has over 1.8 million posts on Instagram.)
"Intuitive eating has over 140 studies," Sam explained to BuzzFeed, "and it helps us learn how to remove our guilt and shame associated with food." To oversimplify the principles of intuitive eating: It's all about re-learning to eat when we're hungry, stop when we're full, and approach what (and how) we eat from a place of non-judgment.
Keep in mind that our relationships to food are complex and can differ significantly from person to person. So before we go any further, it's important to note that intuitive eating isn't a one-size-fits-all approach or "cure." That said, if you've struggled with your relationship to food in the past, Sam's videos and resources are worth investigating.
"We're all born intuitive eaters," Sam says. "We just have this nasty, in-our-face, $72 billion diet culture society that tears us away from trusting ourselves and our bodies."
If you're struggling with food in any way — and many of us are, so it's really OK — Sam shared some quick tips with BuzzFeed that anyone could benefit from:
1. If you struggle with body image, start to build awareness around the way you talk to yourself.
"Remove the guilt and shame, and become curious about the narrative," Sam said. "Would you say these things out loud to a loved one about their body? If not, what makes it OK to speak this way to yourself? Reframe your self-talk with the same compassion you would offer a loved one."
2. If you want to better understand your relationship to food, Sam recommends this simple (but effective) task: "Write down every food rule you have ever followed — past or present."
Just a reminder (since it can never be overstated): If you're resonating with these specific struggles, it's a) not your fault, and b) you're not alone...especially now as we head into the holiday season. The way we approach food and eating around the holidays can be tricky for so many — particularly when it comes to involving our families and loved ones. Sam says we've all been molded by diet culture in our own, unique ways, so it's important to remember that our parents and older family members, as she puts it, often "did the best they could with the resources they had."
If all this "diet culture" talk has you feeling hopeless about the way we've all been conditioned to treat our relationships to food, I'm right there with ya. But ya know what? Personally, I'm going to hold on to Sam's outlook for the future, when we can all (hopefully 🤞) move past feeling like our bodies aren't good enough.
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For more resources on intuitive eating, be sure to give Sam and Find Food Freedom a follow on TikTok and Instagram. If you're ready to dig in some more, Sam always encourages folks to read the actual book Intuitive Eating, and you should totally browse any of the following links, too:
The National Eating Disorders Association helpline is 1-800-931-2237; for 24/7 crisis support, text “NEDA” to 741741.