Is the Anti-Diet and Intuitive Eating Trend Underlying Weight Gain?

In today’s culture, “dieting” is often associated with restriction and deprivation. Ironically, the word comes from the Latin word “dieta,” which simply means anything you eat or drink in one day. But social media influencers have taken the word to a whole new level.

Scrolling through social media, you’ll find #whatieatinaday videos featuring individuals telling you what foods you should and shouldn’t eat to look like them. These videos promote unrealistic goals and potentially unhealthy food choices, pushing for specific diets that restrict or eliminate certain nutrients. These constant reminders also highlight a major issue in our society – the obsession with looking thin. This mindset is now more important than a healthy relationship with food.

This pressure to be thin and look a certain way has led to an increase in disordered eating and a focus on finding the right diet—any diet at any cost—to be thin. While trying to be thin is nothing new, the growth of social media, especially video, has made more content readily available than ever before.

In response to these trends, some registered dietitians propose another method coined the “anti-diet”. The aim is a healthy connection and enjoyment of food – rather than focusing on every morsel you eat and categorizing foods as “good” and “bad.”

Below, you will find an explanation of the anti-diet trend as well as the pros and cons of following this method. Many registered dietitians also consider using this approach and how to determine if it’s right for you.

What is the Anti-Diet Trend?

In general, the anti-diet or non-diet trend does not support on a diet for weight loss or any non-medical reason to achieve a smaller body, says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian. “The anti-diet trend is a rebellion against the harms of diet culture.”

This type of nutritional counseling challenges the idea of ​​calorie counting, meal restriction plans, and tracking and measuring every drop you eat. Instead, it promotes overall wellness, challenges the moralizing of foods (“good” vs. “bad”), and combats food anxiety, says Christy Wilson, RDN , registered dietitian.

“The anti-diet movement can be a trend,” she says. “But for practitioners, this is a lifestyle approach that rejects the shackles of diet culture. Contrary to what some think, the anti-diet movement is not an anti-health approach; it’s a recognition that health and wellness can be achieved in ways that allow for flexibility in eating and physical activity.”

The anti-diet trend also honors people’s choices, lifestyles, cultural diets, and joyful movement. While it is true that you may occasionally see a registered dietitian say, “I felt like eating a bowl of M&Ms for dinner, and I did,” this is not usually the norm. , and that’s not what the concept is about.

Intuitive eating is an integral part of the anti-diet movement—an approach that encourages eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you feel full. It also promotes enjoyment of every food you have while chewing and sitting and eating at a table or near a window when you are relaxed against your computer. This approach improves psychological health and lowers the risk of disordered eating behaviours.

Why Is This Trend Popular?

In simple terms, diets were cancelled. People are tired of restrictive diets, meal plans, and diet culture’s obsession with body image and body size, says Wilson. Plus, it’s easier for them to hear that you can eat what you want and improve your health.

The truth is that one size does not fit all when it comes to achieving long-term health, and “healthy” is not tied to a specific size or appearance. With this in mind, the anti-diet approach respects body neutrality and the fact that everyone’s bodies are different.

“Freedom from tracking and restricting food is a relief for people who have been told by medical providers, family, friends, partners, and others that there is only one path to weight loss and health,” says Wilson.

The anti-diet approach focuses on lifestyle modifications rather than long-term diets that deliver short-term (and, in some cases, dangerous) results. It’s also a weight-neutral approach to health that encourages people to establish a healthy relationship with food rather than looking at a number on the scale.

But, it takes time to achieve this approach. For this reason, it is important for people to establish care with a registered dietitian and health care providers who are trained and skilled in this practice.

Pros and Cons of the Anti-Diet Approach


  • The focus is on lifestyle modifications that can have a positive impact on long-term health
  • Accounts for the whole person and not just food, weight and body size
  • It takes into account personal choices in food, movement, sleep, and stress management, which can promote positive lifestyle changes that are more likely to stick.
  • It removes the moral value that many people place on food (“good” versus “bad”)
  • Restrictive dieting allows people to avoid any food in their overall diet to minimize guilt and shame
  • Reduces the likelihood of the restriction/binge cycle of limiting or eliminating certain foods


  • It can be misconstrued and people believe that it gives them permission to eat anything and everything they want in any quantity
  • It doesn’t work for everyone – some people prefer to track and plan work

What Do Experts Say?

According to Harris-Pincus, the anti-diet conversation is nuanced, and it’s much more complicated than just listening to your body and eating what you want. For example, people with metabolic obesity have dysregulation of energy metabolism and altered signals between the brain and fat cells. She says that when hunger hormones spike because of this signaling issue, the advice to “listen to your body” doesn’t always work.

Some dietitians have also expressed concern that this trend may lead to weight gain, which may be worrying for some. But, according to Wilson weight is not the only predictor of health. “Health is a state of well-being – a collective one, not a body size. If someone is breaking out of extremely restrictive or perhaps disordered eating behaviors and they begin to take an anti-diet approach, your The weight may go up at first, then stabilize.

Also, when people make dietary changes to reach a certain number on a scale, the changes are often short-term, says Wilson. Temporary diets that result in weight loss can lead to weight cycling, which research shows can be harmful to health.

Wilson says the goal of anti-diet counseling is to help people change their attitudes toward food, establish consistent meal times, improve food variety, and encourage eating for nutrition. and enjoy This is a long process and may result in weight fluctuations over time.

Is It Right For You?

The anti-diet approach aims to build or rebuild a healthy relationship with food, but it’s not for everyone, Harris-Pincus explains. “Every human body is unique, and everyone’s needs will be different based on medical history, food preferences, cultural influences, access to food, cooking skills, time constraints, and more.”

She recommends consulting with a registered dietitian who is trained to work with anyone trying to lose weight in a healthy, patient-centered way. You can also use other resources such as MyPlate, a simple and effective model established by the USDA in 2011. The website offers information, helpful tools, and recipes to help people of all ages get started on a healthy diet. This model can also be adapted to include cultural and regional foods.

The Mediterranean Diet is another option that has been promoted by health experts for years due to positive health outcomes from its balanced plant-based nutritional approach. For heart health and cardiovascular fitness, the DASH Diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) is an evidence-based, sodium-controlled diet that includes a variety of foods similar to the Mediterranean Diet.

If brain health and cognitive fitness are particularly important, the MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Delayed Neurodegeneration) combines the two aforementioned dietary approaches. It is also plant-based and can be adapted to vegetarian, flexible, and vegan lifestyles.

The above approaches promote long-term health and include all food groups. They are also flexible and adaptable to accommodate cultural foods and are sustainable for health and wellness. They even fit seamlessly into the anti-diet approach because they are long-term eating plans focused more on what to include in your diet for health rather than how to restrict your diet to lose weight.

Base line

The anti-diet approach encourages eating for pleasure and health and focuses on what to include in your diet for optimal nutrition rather than what to cut out or restrict to to lose weight. It also helps to establish a healthy relationship with food.

But if building (or rebuilding) your relationship with food and all that goes with the anti-diet approach isn’t your thing, other science-based approaches will work just as well. As an RD, my motto is “you make you” – do what’s right for you, not because you saw it on TikTok.

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