The Cultural Impact of Dieting: How it Contributes to Eating Disorders

Tuesday, Apr 11  •  


At Avalon Hills Eating Disorder Specialists, we understand how hard it is to break free from dieting and disordered eating behaviors. Despite popular belief, dieting doesn’t always result in success or health. In fact, research shows that 95% of dieters regain the weight they lost within 3-5 years. One contributing factor to this failure rate is the role of culture in influencing how individuals view dieting and their own body image.

The Issue with the “Ideal” Beauty Standard

The “ideal” beauty standard portrayed by mainstream media has a strong influence on self-esteem levels, especially for young people and women. Images of thin models can lead individuals to believe that achieving an impossible level of thinness is what’s most important when it comes to personal attractiveness. As a result, many people feel compelled to engage in rigid dieting practices that leave them feeling discouraged and out of control with food. This can prompt unhealthy behaviors such as binge eating or cutting out entire food groups completely in an effort to be “perfect.”

The Role Family Dynamics Play

In addition to the media portrayal of unrealistic body images, family dynamics also play an important role in reinforcing these cultural messages. For example, parents who comment on their own weight or promote certain diets may inadvertently pass on disordered eating patterns to their children. The same holds true for peers who make comments about other people’s bodies or send unhealthy messages around food. It’s vital that these influences are acknowledged and addressed so individuals can learn healthier ways of living with food and their bodies instead.

The Avalon Hills Approach

At Avalon Hills Eating Disorder Specialists, we value non-diet approaches such as intuitive eating which focuses on honoring your body’s hunger cues and respecting biological signals such as satiety or cravings without imposing rules or restrictions around food choices. We also encourage our clients to explore mindful movement practices as a way to reconnect with their bodies without resorting to punishing exercise regimes. Through therapy sessions and experiential activities that aim to cultivate awareness and acceptance around one’s unique experience with food, our goal is ultimately to help clients sustain long-term recovery from disordered eating behaviors caused by pervasive cultural messaging around beauty standards and dieting norms.

We recognize the individual path of recovery from disordered eating behaviors is often emotionally challenging and difficult. We are passionate about equipping our clients with the necessary skills to make informed decisions about what will work best for them. Our compassionate approach is rooted in the conviction that everyone’s relationship with food and their bodies should be a positive, if not a neutral, one and we’re here to help you develop that.

Our team of integrative therapists are dedicated to helping individuals nurture resilience by understanding how certain core beliefs may contribute to the development of disordered eating habits. This process involves cultivating self-compassion by replacing negative thoughts or feelings with kinder and more helpful messages instead. In doing so, our intention is not only to support short-term recovery but bridge individuals into long-term healing by teaching them healthy coping mechanisms that can be used throughout life’s inevitable ups and downs.

At Avalon Hills Eating Disorder Specialists, we remain firm in our commitment to promoting a neutral body image for all individuals. Above all else, we believe that every person deserves unconditional respect for who they are at every stage of their journey toward well-being and self-love.