Every body has a story — everybody has a narrative to go with it. We asked the hard question: Can you be body positive and on a diet — and realized it was a tough one to answer. With body positivity trending, it’s important to acknowledge that the mainstream body positivity movement is not the same as fat acceptance movements. Dieting is also difficult to define. We turned to the experts in health, fat activism, wellness and other related spaces to help us better understand whether you can be body positive and on a diet. Here’s what they had to say!
Aisha Fairclough, co-founder Body Confidence Canada and model
— Aisha Fairclough, Fat in the City and co-founder of Body Confidence Canada
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Gillian Young, health and fitness coach
Our mental health is greatly affected by our diets, so some may feel more body positive eating a health focused diet simply due to improve gut health, blood sugar balancing and vitamins and minerals. So can you be body positive and on a diet? Yes, but like all things, there are many variables to take into account."
— Gillian Young, health and fitness coach
Layla Cameron, PhD candidate and fat activist
However, you cannot support body liberation for all, and be on a formal diet. Diets depend on a cultural fear of fatness and maintain the stigmatization of non-normative bodies. Additionally, in the long-term, diets inflict significant harm on the body and mind.
To align one’s body politics and relationship with food, I would encourage those with a commitment to body positivity to explore the fat activist movement, and suggest moving away from formal structured dieting trends towards intuitive eating habits.”
— Layla Cameron, PhD candidate and fat activist
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Karen Giesbrecht, dietitian and author
— Karen Giesbrecht, registered dietitian from Vancouver, BC, and author of Happy Colon, Happy Soul: an exploration of why and how we share food (2019)
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Dr. Jill Andrew, PhD co-founder Body Confidence Canada
— Dr. Jill Andrew, PhD co-founder of Body Confidence Canada and MPP Toronto-St.Paul's, NDP Women's Issues and Culture Critic
Virginia Lee, fitness model, marathoner and trainer
— Virginia Lee, fitness model, marathoner and trainer
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Winny Clarke, actress and wellness expert
Before you diet, ask yourself who, what, and why. Who or what is this for, and why do you want to diet. That’ll inform you if you’re moving forward in a kind loving way that promotes body positivity."
— Winny Clarke, actress, meditation and wellness expert
Nadia George, Mi’kmaw actress, Indigenous Youth and Community Advocate
The truth, I found, was that body positivity is about feeling good, mentally emotionally and physically. No matter your weight, shape or size. If we focus just on 'losing weight' or 'dieting,' we can put unnecessary stress on our minds and bodies, potentially setting ourselves up for failure; due to the lack of weight loss, and/or because of how we feel both psychologically and physiologically. We need to promote body positivity holistically, focusing on keeping the mind and body in a healthy state, seeing it as a celebration of oneself, rather than a job or punishment. So yes, we can have positive body image, but throw away the term 'I’m dieting' and replace it with something that has positive affirmations. For me… 'I’m celebrating my body and loving it.'"
— Nadia George, Mi'kmaw actress, Indigenous Youth and Community Advocate
Natalie Hastings, registered dietitian
— Natalie Hastings, registered dietitian
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