Media Coverage

‘Lifestyle Changes’ Are Often Diet Culture in Sheep’s Clothing

July 23, 2023
Well + Good
At face value, the term "lifestyle change" might not seem harmful, but as this Well+Good article showcases, it's nothing more than "diet culture in sheep's clothing." Eating Recovery Center Clinical Response Manager Meredith Nisbit shares her perspective and notes how the term itself implies "there's something wrong with your current lifestyle or there is a right or wrong way to live your life."

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From Weight Watchers rebranding to “WW” to Noom’s “happier, healthier lives” phrasing, these days, we’re seeing a lot of diet companies and their diet-y messages—eat less, limit your desserts, etc.—framed as “lifestyle changes.” They're giving a more positive connotation than the word “diet,” and are being passed off as “less rigid” and more about “wellness.”

However, in actuality, they bring us further from listening to what and how much our bodies truly need, whether that’s less or more or different. In other words, this small change is purely semantic; it’s not improving our well-being.

Virginia Sole-Smith writes about this and the “strive for the middle” eating approach (which encourages moderation and balance in food choices) in her recently released bestselling book, Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture. “It’s the kind of plan that women’s magazines have run forever as ‘just a lifestyle change.’ After all, you’re not cutting out any food groups, and you can even still eat dessert!” she writes. “But when I emailed a description of that plan around to a few eating disorder experts, I could just about hear their horrified gasps through my laptop.”


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