This week, singer Demi Lovato slammed a yogurt shop in Los Angeles after claiming their signs promoted diet culture. Lovato noted one sign labeled a flavor option as "Guilt-Free." Now a Registered Dietician is applauding Demi's efforts, calling diet culture "harmful."
"Labels such as 'guilt free' enforce diet culture and can absolutely be harmful, as it can drive the mindset that anything else chosen should lead to guilt and other feelings of failure," says Registered Dietician Ricci-Lee Hotz (MS, RDN).
Hotz says that words have power and it’s important for food labels and categories to be thoughtfully used.
"I do not use the term 'guilt-free' with my clients,” she shares. “If someone finds these labels triggering, I would suggest that they reach out to the company and do their best to educate that these labels promote a ‘diet’ mindset rather than a ‘healthy lifestyle’ mindset.”
In her social post, Lovato suggests that the yogurt shop use labels for individuals with certain sensitivities but not to divide foods into good food/bad food. Hotz agrees.
“Recommending, like Demi did, the use of other labels that indicate allergen friendly choices by putting small labels such as gluten free (GF); Celiac-friendly; Dairy-free (DF); vegan; or even no added sugar to allow people to make an informed choice rather than correlating the food item with failure or success."
" Overall,” Hotz concludes, “diet culture plays a significant role in perpetuating eating disorders and disordered relationships with food so providing a variety of serving sizes with labels (small, medium, large, etc) with no connotations to guilt or success (skinny or petite choices) while also providing labels appropriate for individuals with food allergies and sensitivities, allows for the opportunity for people to have the ability to make the appropriate decision for themselves in that moment without external fears or shaming."
Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN is a A Taste of Health and Expert at Testing.com
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