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The rise of plant-based eating may help us finally end diet culture for good


The eating of more plants is an ethos that’s being incorporated into people’s menus. Experts think that it could be the antithesis to the diet culture mentality that’s gripped America for decades.

EMILY LAURENCE: ‘While the specific rules may change, there always seems to be a trendy—and restrictive—diet of the moment. In the ’90s, going low-fat and counting calories were all the rage. Then in the early 2010s, everyone was all about juice cleanses and detoxes. By 2018, high-fat, low-carb keto was the way to go. But lately, even eating keto seems out of vogue among the most forward-thinking healthy eaters.

Instead, we’re seeing all signs point to plant-based eating—meaning a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and other plants while still leaving room for some animal products—being the major focus of healthy eating in 2020 and beyond. Since 2017, plant-based food sales have increased by 31 percent, according to a report from the Good Food Institute. It’s not because there are tons more vegans, but because more “mainstream” eaters are starting to adopt a plant-forward lifestyle.

What’s more, the shift to eating more plants isn’t being seen as a temporary fix or reset… it’s an ethos that’s being incorporated into people’s everyday menus. And some experts think that it could be the antithesis to the diet culture mentality that’s gripped America for decades.

“I cannot stress enough how incredible the shift away from diet culture is in terms of mental health,” says Cassidy Gundersen, a nutritionist and health coach who is getting her PhD in health and nutrition. Diet culture, of course, is the overarching belief system that equates body size with health and worth, emphasizes weight loss, and demonizes certain foods, nutrients, or ways of eating while promoting others.

By championing thinness as health and focusing on restriction, it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and potentially lay the groundwork for disordered eating patterns. But moving away from this way of thinking can radically transform how a person eats, Gundersen says. “It shifts a mindset from one of restriction to one of abundance, and opens up a whole new world in terms of loving food and having a healthy relationship with it.”

Plant-based eating, she says, might be a way to fight back against diet culture, in part because of how non-restrictive it can be. While many eating plans focus on counting calories or different macronutrients, going plant-based isn’t so limiting. “Instead of looking at a meal in terms of calories, you’re considering the nutrients and how they will benefit your body,” Gundersen says’. SOURCE…