Understanding Diet Culture: Why Dieting Can Be Harmful To Mental Health?

Last Update on March 24, 2023 : Published on March 25, 2023

Are you also aligned or preoccupied with the trending diet type right now? Well, I know the Mediterranean diet, keto diet, and intermittent fasting are in talk these days. But, where do you get this information from? Mostly from social media, friends, or relatives…right?

It’s pretty common nowadays…people do talk about the trending diets and participate in doing them even without realizing why they are doing so! Well, if I ask you what’s the importance of a keto diet…will you be able to answer this question?

The problem with our generation is that we directly start following the trending diet without even knowing its importance, impacts, pros, and cons. I know we are all somewhere dealing with the pressure to look fit and connect meaningfully with others.

But wait, why are we seeking this approval from others? Do you know following the diet culture can have harmful effects on your mental health too?

In this blog, we will be taking a deep look at the diet culture and understanding the mental health impacts of following the diet culture because I feel there is a need to create a healthy environment and foster eating habits that are equally important for our mental health too! First of all, let us begin with understanding what exactly diet culture means.

Understanding the Diet Culture Psychologically

When we certainly follow a diet trend religiously to look thin or toned (especially when we start linking our body shape with our social status), the term is referred to as diet culture.

Below are some of the common characteristics of diet culture:

  • Direct source of anxiety and stress and can trigger negative feelings revolving around guilt, fear, and shame related to food choices
  • Promotes compulsive and restrictive behaviors while eating or exercising
  • Inherits a sense of failure whenever someone is not able to follow the diet

Why is Everyone Running behind Diet Culture?

Most accurately, the younger generation is likely to develop attitudes, behavior, or habits that can have lasting impacts on their mental health. I personally feel that it is high time we start accepting our bodies and forming real-connections with ourselves.

Sadly, societal pressure is spreading unhealthy messages to our younger generations. They are likely to focus on their weight, food choices, and exercises (however, in an unhealthy manner).

This pressure mainly comes from the social media pages making content on the topics like fitness, weight loss, and nutrition. I have recently seen a reel on Insta talking about weight loss in 7 days (which is quite impossible). Out of all the content analyses, I found that:

  • 1% of content created is useless and does not make any sense
  • 44% of videos related to weight loss feature a person’s weight transformation (which clearly looks fake or edited to me)
  • Only 14% of videos present the right information
  • Only 1.4% of the content comes from the registered dietitians

Harmful Mental Health Impacts of Diet Culture

Diet culture is directly related to negative mental health outcomes like reduced self-esteem, poor mental well-being, body shaming, and more! People who religiously follow diet culture are prone to develop unhealthy eating behaviors. For example, people are nowadays adhering to a low-calorie diet instead of consuming a well-balanced nutritious diet.

Moreover, weight-related stigmas can lead to body dissatisfaction and can develop an eating disorder in the younger generation. Most importantly, spreading inaccurate or misleading information related to nutrition and health can have serious mental health impacts.

Related Read: Why Gen Z Cited Mental Health Improvement as a Goal of 2023?

Moving to the Right & Healthy Diet Culture

I come from a younger generation and I am not against the diet culture. Since I am pursuing my Master’s degree in Food and Nutrition, I really want people to consume the right information. I don’t want my fellows to be misled by some influencer on Instagram.

My only goal is to raise awareness to consume the right information so that our younger generation can adopt a holistic attitude towards nutrition and exercise.

This goal will help everyone to make their eating and exercise decisions based on their mental and physical health needs instead of following the diet culture blindly! This will indirectly help in enhancing confidence, inner growth, acceptance, and happiness in each one of us. Here are some quick tips to choose the right dietary pattern for you:

  • Ditch the trend and know about your body’s
  • Follow social media pages led by registered dietitians.
  • Eat to impress your body, not society.
  • Try to find some non-weight-focused hobbies
  • Follow diet culture in the healthy manner

Here is the list of blogs that can help you with the right food choices:

I hope this blog helps you choose the right dieting pattern for you and your closed ones. Comment down if you wish to know more about healthy dieting patterns for improving overall well-being.

For more such content, connect with us on all social media platforms!

Remember… eat healthily, and follow newly introduced dietary styles, but focus on your mental health needs too!

To raise awareness, share this blog with your loved ones.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".


  1. cnnaus

    Awesome! Its genuinely remarkable post, I have got much clear idea regarding from this post

  2. CNN UK
    CNN UK

    Brilliant post, I couldn't agree more!

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