Kaitlin Ruiz

Kaitlin is a California native currently pursuing her Master’s in Organizational Leadership. She is fascinated by the concept of human connection and passionate about Asian-American family dynamics, sex education, and mental health awareness.

Conditioned by Diet Culture

The fear of being judged and feeling “less than” led me down a path of disordered eating and trying easy fixes to get in control of my weight.

For as long as I can remember, my appearance has always been under scrutiny by my family. I was too thin, too fat, my hair color didn’t suit me, my eyelash extensions were too long, my lipstick was too dark. I have never felt like I was good enough, and I have become increasingly self-conscious over the years. 

I’ve been struggling with my weight since I was a teenager.

I was never petite like most Asian girls—instead, I’m relatively tall, at least for a Filipino, and I have a medium frame. When I was 17, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS for short, and I began to gain weight rapidly and then steadily continued to gain weight throughout college. In addition to my condition, the stress of college, coupled with a slowing metabolism and a tendency to stress eat, led me to reach an all-time high of 216 lbs. 

If the comments from my family were unsolicited in my childhood, they sure as hell had a reason to say something during my college years. 

The fear of being judged and feeling “less than” led me down a path of disordered eating and trying easy fixes to get in control of my weight. The logical thing to do, in my head, was diet. I’ve tried everything from Paleo to Keto to Whole 30. I’ve tested out intermittent fasting and digested detox teas, not knowing they were laxatives in disguise. 

Every pound I lost abiding by these diets’ rules made me feel like I was in control, but it wasn’t long before I would fall off the wagon and begin to overeat again. 

I found myself indulging in sweets and high-calorie foods until I was sick. I’d watch as I gained back the 10 pounds I lost in a little over a week. Then I’d look at myself in the mirror and think about how fat and disgusting I was.

Diet culture preyed on my insecurities and weaknesses and taught me destructive habits I’m still trying to shake today. 

Let me tell you guys—this journey has been difficult. I’m trying so hard to listen to how my body reacts to the foods I’m fueling it with instead of tracking calories and macronutrients. I want to say that I’m now the healthiest I’ve ever been and that I’ve learned to find self-control, but I’d just be lying. 

The truth is, dieting has ruined my relationship with food. I conditioned myself to believe that some foods were good and other foods were bad, and even though I know all of that is bullshit now, I can’t help but feel like I’m going down a rabbit hole of despair every time I eat bread or a piece of chocolate. 

Sometimes I feel like I’ll never truly be free from the shackles of diet culture, but I still try every day—hoping that one day I’ll be able to love myself enough to do it for good.

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