Where did diet culture come from? What does diet culture do to make its millions? How does diet culture impact you and those around you? In this podcast, Dr. Castagnini speaks about diet culture and why it's so toxic.


  • What is diet culture?
  • How did diet culture come to exist?
  • Negativity
  • How to get out of diet culture

What is diet culture?

Put simply, diet culture is the concept that health means thinness and thinness means good, leading to judgments of people’s worth based on their health. (Dr. Cristina Castagnini)
Diet culture is a toxic world that can pull anyone into it. It can damage relationships and family connections because people will feel they should comment on someone’s weight out of concern because they think it is the right thing to do. Sometimes parents or friends will treat their loved ones unfairly or judge them as whole human beings based on their body shape and size.
This association with health and thinness is also our standard for beauty and happiness and this keeps us trapped in a cycle of obsessing over our bodies. (Dr. Cristina Castagnini)

How did diet culture come to exist?

Multibillion-dollar companies have built their wealth and success upon the idea that thin is good and demonize the idea that anything but thin is unhealthy. These companies prey on your insecurities. They create insecurity and self-doubt in people through advertising and spending millions of dollars in marketing and social media to make them think that being thin is to be beautiful or to have more value. By creating insecurities in you, they will then sell you products to help you attain the unattainable. The kicker is that these products do not work. The cycle then continues where they give you another insecurity and then try to sell you an unworkable solution for the problem they created.
Diet culture makes food something other than what it is, it’s fuel and nutrition. Diet culture makes certain foods good and others bad, and then your value, worth, and emotions become tied to those labels. (Dr. Cristina Castagnini)


Diet culture centers itself around a lot of negativities, even though it tries to convince you that it is looking out for you.

Diet culture:

  • Gives food moral labels which you then use to label yourself,
  • Makes you think that thinness is equal to worth as a human being
  • Wants you to view “fat” as a bad or insulting word even though it is just another adjective like tall or brunette,
  • Wants you to eat food for weight loss, not for enjoyment or culture,
  • Praises disordered eating in the name of weight loss.
Diet culture results in body issues for sure, and what this leads to in your head is that it is normal and that it encourages self-deprecating talk, especially when it comes to your body. (Dr. Cristina Castagnini)
Diet culture has people bonding over how much they dislike themselves instead of how much they enjoy their bodies and their capabilities. You do not need to internalize these levels of negativity and you do not need to use this self-deprecating lens to view yourself.

How to get out of diet culture

  • You need to have an awareness that diet culture exists and can impact you daily if you are not aware.
  • Know that it is not your fault.
  • Find support from loved ones and professionals.
  • Unfollow people who support diet culture on social media.
  • Question what people are saying, even the experts and the doctors, if their messages are based on diet culture.
  • Speak kindly to yourself.



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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