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Session 7

Young People – Body Image and Normal Eating

Session 7

Breaking free of food rules and diet culture

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Session 7

Breaking free of food rules and diet culture

Food riddles

It looks green, it opens red. What you eat is red, but what you spit out is black.


What has no beginning, end, or middle?


A container without hinges, lock or a key, yet a golden treasure lies inside me. What am I?


You peel me, cut me up and fry me. And still you’re the one crying. What am I?


I am a bird, I am a fruit and I am a person. What am I?


What does "normal"
eating look

social foods

Includes having
varied food

Variable in the
amount and type

Usually comprises of
3 main meals
and 2-3 snacks, however,
this can vary based
on many factors
e.g. how active
you are, your appetite,
the environment


Listening to hunger
and fullness cues.
Eating regularly is
the best way to
manage appetite

Enjoying your food

fast food or

Using some
restraint in your
food selection
to get the right
of foods

What affects our ability
to eat 'normally'

Take a moment to list some ideas:

What we read on social
media, magazines,

The eating habits
observed or learnt
from childhood

Pressures from
peers and society
to look a certain

Our knowledge of food and
what is normal eating

The Diet Culture
we live in

Diet Culture

A system that values weight, shape and size over health and well-being!

What does diet culture mean to you?


Ignoring body

worth with
how you look

Equating thinness
with health

worth with what
you eat

Food rules

Food anxiety

Avoiding foods
too high in fats,
carbs or calories

Food label gives
you permission
to eat

Eliminating food

Food Guilt

Examples of
diet culture!

because of food

Feeling or need
to justify eating

Exercise for

Diet talk

weight loss

Scale dictates
happiness or

Believing you must
take supplements
for health

What causes and maintains diet culture?

The way we speak >>

It's my cheat day!

This is so bad for you

I start my new diet tomorrow

What influences diet culture?

The UK diet industry is worth $2 billion a year

Competition & comparison

Things to bear in mind

Anyone can call themselves a "nutritionist"

It is not a legally protected title – an Instagram “nutritionist guru" may have no qualification

Research reveals social media influencers give bad diet and fitness advise

Healthy eating and self worth

The harm of diet culture

Harmful to health

Normalises disordered eating

Dominates your thoughts

Promotes eating disorders

Steals joy from life

Waste of time

Waste of money

Increases guilt and shame

Makes digestion worse

Increases risk of physically ill health

Hurts relationships

Exercise becomes punishment

What are your take home messages about diet culture?

Some Ideas...

Build Awareness

Begin to notice the messages around you that are from diet culture.
This includes conversations about weight, body shape and dieting

Know the facts

Recognise the unhelpfulness of diet culture. Know that skinny doesn’t always equal healthy. Remember why fats and sugars are ok, and even needed, in our diets

Walk away from diet culture

When you see it say “no not today” to diet culture

It’s ok to leave these conversations – or even call them out! Talk about something else

Do something else – engage in hobbies, voluntary work or learning something new

Surround yourself with anti-diet culture messages.

Listen to podcasts and follow social media around intuitive eating and body kindness

Find friends that have similar beliefs as you

Empower others to break free of diet culture

Create a diet culture free zone

Clean up your social media feeds

Avoid diet products – food & drinks, supplements, books, magazines

Breaking food rules

Stop comparing your food choices to someone else’s


It’s okay if you eat more than someone else, man or woman!

Do you have any rules around how you eat or the foods you eat?

Do you have any deliberately avoided foods?

Make some notes below ?

Most days

Eats a mix of both

Also no food rules

having grapes for dessert because it’s what you want

Some days

Eats mostly processed foods

Other days

eats mostly 'whole' foods

Most days

Eats a mix of both


Not physically hungry but have a craving for some chocolate


Totally okay, eat mindfully to identify satisfaction and enjoy without guilt

Using your list of rules and avoided foods. Cut these up into individual papers and fold to place in a jar.

Choose one or more out the jar to challenge each week.

You can challenge that rule as frequent as food daily or as little as once in the week.

Challenging food rules
and avoided foods

Consider where this rule came from:

Is it based on evidence and a credible source?

Is it relevant to your age group?

Is it relevant to your gender?

Is it designed for a healthy population of for medical purposes?

Consider the impact of the rules or avoided foods
to other parts of your life:

Does this rule or avoided food stop you being able to do social activities?

Does it stop you attending social events?

Does it impact your mood negatively?

Does it negatively impact your physical health? – fatigue, illness,
dizziness, weight, energy levels etc.

Note: It will likely take more than one attempt, so consider placing them back in the jar for another attempt

Healthy relationship to food not based on a restrictive diet

You are awesome as you are

Don't go on a diet

Superfoods don’t exist All food is neutral

Challenging Diet Culture

How can we challenge diet culture?

Can you think of a good magazine or news headline to challenge diet culture?

My worth is unrelated to how I look

Know our boundaries

it’s ok to say no and prioritise mental health

Feel amazing

stop comparing yourself to unrealistic standards

Move because it feels good in your body and head but don’t forget to rest!

Don't exhaust yourself just to get visible abs!

Try to choose what you genuinely want.
Think about how hungry you are, remember some of mindful eating and intuitive eating ideas discussed in the previous presentation

Try not to order based on any food rules
you have or diet culture influences


Ordering off a menu

What would you like to order today?

The pad thai because
they like the cuisine and
peanut taste


What did you order and why?

Examples from other young people:

The quesadilla
because they love

The Souvlaki because it
reminded them of a
holiday in Greece



Acknowledgments - Module 1: Body Image and Normal Eating

NHSX Module:

Module Lead: Dr Erica Cini

Module Team:

Alex Bell
Emily Bland

EL-CEDS-CYP Body Image and Normal Eating group:

  • Michelle Chounkaria, Alex Bell
  • Georgia Meisel, Ruth Wilson, Emily Bland
  • Laura Fialko, Katrina Rumball
  • Erica Cini

The CEDS Body Image and Normal Eating Group is a CBT psychoeducation series of sessions based on the manual developed by Hampshire CEDS, consultation and published body image manuals (Fairburn, 2001; Collins-Donnelly, 2014) such a as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Eating disorders and Banish Your Body Image Thief.

Evaluations on the BI/NE group:'Learning_to_Live_in_Your_Body'_Group

Well Done!

- Completed
You have

References or Creators Credit


My Notes

Supporting Videos

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