Abandoning the Wilderness of Diet Culture

Heidi Carrington Heath
3 min readFeb 8, 2021

Hey Church, it’s time for us to have a check-in, ok? All y’all out there who are part of the Body of Christ, and especially clergy colleagues. It’s Ash Wednesday this week. The start of Lent. Of our 40 days in the wilderness. Our season of prayer and fasting. It’s a time when we often talk about giving something up. This season also generally coincides with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (this year February 22–28th).

Thus, it’s a great time to remind us all of some things:

1. We have an obligation to our faith communities to be REALLY mindful of how we talk about things like fasting during this season.

2. Wouldn’t it be an awesome thing for us to use this as a chance to re-frame Lent as something other than a season for promoting disordered eating practices, or giving up chocolate?

3. Good news! We have SO many great tools. Our theology is incarnational and relational. Bodies are good, sacred, and holy — ALL OF THEM, just as they are. We can use the tools we have to go deeper as communities, beyond the “give up your latte” version of Lent.

4. Want to give up something as a congregation? How about for 40 days commit to giving up negative body talk? Let’s set down those coffee hour comments about the full fat coffee creamer in favor of something more fruitful. Let’s put a moratorium on comments about calories, so when we return to covered dish suppers we’re ready. Let’s work to create a culture together where we talk about our bodies with love and compassion, and where we understand that other people’s bodies are not ours to comment on. What if we collectively gave up diet culture for Lent? Now THAT would be revolutionary for Lent.

5. What if we agreed to give up the wilderness of diet culture? Jesus did not go into the wilderness for 40 days, so y’all could give up sugar, chocolate, or bread. I promise.

6. Think about taking ON a practice instead. What’s the thing you keep putting off doing, because you think your body has to be a certain way to do it? Do that, and see if it doesn’t bring you closer the messy, beautiful, incarnational God with a body we follow.

7. There is deep and profound ableism in diet culture, and thus in the framing of “giving up” food…

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Heidi Carrington Heath

The Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath (she/her/hers) is a preacher, teacher, activist, writer, holy mischief maker, and proud queer femme.