diet culture rejection cover

National Nutrition Month: In Conversation With Diet Culture

Diet culture is out. Intuitive eating is in.

For National Nutrition Month, we don't want to preach the trendiest diets. Instead, we're unpacking how diet culture has distorted our relationship with food and how to reframe our mindset.

Verywell writers shared how their food choices and diet patterns have changed in a series consisting of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert. Along with these essays, they also shared some easy, feel-good recipes that can nourish both the body and the soul.

Breakfast: Cinnamon Toast Crunch

cinnamon toast crunch

Rory Masterson

Cereal has earned its place on the breakfast table since early 1900s. It was originally invented as a nutritious alternative to the meat-heavy American diet, but the addition of sugar and baseless health claims have tainted the reputation of breakfast cereal in recent years.

Former cereal industry analyst Rory Masterson gave us a rundown of cereal history and how this breakfast staple has adapted to consumer demands and health trends. While he may not sit down for a proper breakfast every day, he still snacks on his childhood favorite cereal—Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Lunch: Tofu Scramble With Leftovers

tofu scramble

Darice Chang

As a petite Asian American, writer Darice Chang is often told that they're "underweight" according to the BMI chart, which was designed based on data from European men.

However, maintaining a certain body weight has never been a priority for Chang. It's more important to consume foods that align with their personal values and satisfy their cravings. After trying countless plant-based diets, Chang circled back to intuitive eating principles, which encourage people to listen to their body and enjoy foods without guilt.

Chang shared a versatile turmeric tofu scramble recipe that works with a variety of vegetables or side dishes—it's especially perfect if you want to use up any leftovers in your fridge.

Dinner: Ropa Vieja de Pollo

ropa vieja flatlay

Paola de Varona

The infamous 1,200 calorie-deficit diet is one of the most pervasive weight loss strategies for people in the United States. Verywell editor Paola de Varona has tried to follow this restrictive diet, but found herself hungrier than ever. The pressure of weight monitoring and dieting only forced her into a restrict-binge cycle and prevented her from fully enjoying foods that she grew up with.

But experts are saying that cutting calories alone doesn't automatically lead to weight loss. Instead of undereating, de Varona took a more holistic approach by incorporating fruits and vegetables into as many meals as possible, practicing intuitive eating, and exercising as a form of self-care. And her family's ropa vieja de pollo recipe never fails to help her reconnect with happy memories about food.

Snack: Fig & Oats Energy Bites

fig & oats energy bites

Stephanie Brown

Verywell's nutrition writer Stephanie Brown teaches an after-school cooking class in New York City. Unlike a textbook nutrition course, her class focuses on having fun with preparing healthy and tasty foods. Through cooking, students get to learn about their food preferences. They’re also better equipped to try out more nutritious recipes as they grow older.

Recipes that allow kids to touch and mold something with their bare hands are especially popular. This fig & oats energy bite recipe is a crowd favorite in Brown's class and it makes for a healthy on-the-go snack.

Dessert: Seasonless Fruit Crisp

fruit crisp ingredients

Claire Bugos

One of the best things about Californian summers is the abundance of organic fresh fruit, according to Verywell reporter Claire Bugos. Her family would keep a big fruit bowl in the kitchen and make desserts with whatever fruit is in season. It's hard to resist Bugos's family fruit crisp recipe, which makes use of seasonal fruit and nuts.

The fear of sugary foods has left Bugos wondering if she could really indulge in these desserts without counting calories. Not all sugar is created equal, though. Fruit provides a healthier source of natural sugar than candies or soda. Whole fruits—with flesh, skin, and pulp—offer a wide range of nutrients such as dietary fiber, flavonoids, and vitamins.