How has toxic diet culture affected the way you see and feel about yourself? Are you left feeling bad about yourself after watching movies or spending time on social media? How can you learn to spot toxic diet messaging so that you can protect your mental health? In this podcast episode, Dr Cristina Castagnini speaks about how to spot and challenge toxic diet culture with Summer Innanen.


Summer Innanen is a professionally trained coach specializing in body image, self-worth, and confidence. She is the host of the podcast Eat The Rules and creator of You, On Fire – an online group coaching program dedicated to helping people get free from body shame. She also co-runs the Body Image Coach Certification program with Danni Adams to train professionals to be better equipped to work with clients around body image.

Summer helps people all over the world to stop living behind the numbers on their scales through her private and group coaching.

Visit Summer's website and connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  • Exercise for health or weight loss?
  • Anti-aging culture is the new toxic diet culture
  • Reclaiming your energy
  • Find your community

Exercise for health or weight loss?

One of the key aspects of toxic diet culture is that it will glamorize any type of weight loss, even if it is unhealthy.
I honestly thought that everything I was doing was healthy … and I convinced myself that what I was doing was in the pursuit of health even though in my mind it was also like, “But I actually just want to lose as much weight as possible.” (Summer Innanen)
Therefore, so many people see exercise as a form of achieving weight loss instead of using it to maintain a healthy, functional, and mobile body. Diet culture will have people start to hate exercise because they will only see it as something that they have to do to lose weight - which is not true! Exercise is not a tool for punishment. Exercise is something that you do to strengthen and enjoy being in your body.
[We need to] be able to redefine what health is for ourselves and unhook those two things, and then create a new relationship with it so that you’re doing it in a way that isn’t going to compromise your health. (Summer Innanen)

Anti-aging culture is the new toxic diet culture

I think that our culture’s fixation on appearance has gone beyond weight to also now [about] the way that your skin looks … I think aging is a big conversation because … our bodies are going to change. (Summer Innanen)
Remember this: the toxic diet industry is an industry. It’s a business model, and that model runs on making you feel bad about something about yourself and then selling you a product for it. Now, the whole world is buzzing around anti-aging as the new hot topic. Everyone now has a five to fifteen-step skincare routine, red light therapy, laser surgery, botox, facelifts, you name it. The thing is, ageing is perfectly normal. Every single person is going to age, and that is a fact of life. Western culture is fixated on youth and being young, but that is not what life is about. But, if your identity is wrapped up in how you look because your mindset has been influenced by diet culture, then aging is going to seem very scary to you, even though it’s not an inherently bad thing.
If you start investing in anti-aging creams … Once you stop using them, maybe your skin is going to change back … So I think that it also puts its hooks in us and has us as a consumer for life and steals a lot of [our] money, time, and energy. (Summer Innanen)

Reclaiming your energy

Once you can allow yourself to let go of the drain of having to follow the toxic diet culture narrative, you will find that you now have so much more space and energy (and money!) to enjoy your life. You reclaim your energy by reclaiming your autonomy, and you reclaim your autonomy by no longer allowing external forces to dictate your value, especially when they try to tell you what your value is depending on how you look because that is not true.
It’s such a big weight off your shoulders to not have that stress and to be able to go into perimenopause and menopause and think, “Well, if my body changes it’s really not that big of a deal.” (Summer Innanen)

Find your community

[Find] environments where you’re going to be around other like-minded people because it’s really hard to do this on your own when you’re amongst people who are doing the opposite … When [people] have a good support network or they’re within a group where there’s a lot of people doing this stuff together, it makes it so much easier to reject diet culture. (Summer Innanen)
Find the people who are doing the work that you want to get better at doing in your own life. Look for the people who are being inspired to make positive changes that are rooted in genuine self-love, and compassion, and that are based on values and principles instead of societal trends.
If people don’t like you or value you or see worth in you because you have a few more wrinkles or a few more pounds, you really have to question the people that you’re around. (Dr. Castagnini)



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "Hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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