Diet culture is made up of crazy messages, ideas and products that the industry tries to sell us on a daily basis.

We've all seen the overrepresentation of thin bodies, not representing people with disabled bodies or simply the food myths projected. Diet culture ideals have been perceived to be linked to success, happiness and health.

The bad thing is that the ideal "diet" and body-shape is just not realistic for most people. Not only is it out of reach, it's also not an indicator of happiness. It can also be dangerous for your health. Here are some aspects of diet culture that I don't agree with.

Lots of cardio at the gym is the only way to lose weight

Endless cardio is not always the answer to losing weight.  Of course, it's good for your heart and can improve your endurance, but it's not a magic solution to losing weight.

If you hate running, find other ways to incorporate movement into your life. Try yoga or weight lifting! For the females, you will not get "big and bulky," that's just another one of those gym myths the diet industry circulates. If you're bored of long cardio sessions, switch it up with interval training.

Also, who says everyone needs a gym membership? If this environment is uncomfortable for you or unrealistic due to health issues or lack of money, don't fret. You can still live a healthy lifestyle. Try researching some at-home workouts or walk around campus.

My final pet peeve about this message is the fact that all the exercise tips and tricks the industry promotes are linked to losing weight. It's as if the culture has decided that this is (or should be) every person (particularly, women's) greatest goal.

Who would have thought that some of us exercise just to relieve stress or improve our bone health? It's important to be health-conscious, but that doesn't always correlate with going down on the scale

You have to reach and maintain your "ideal" weight

Not only does this message imply that your ideal weight is thinner than you are right now, it says that it is your job to "maintain" your body in this form. But here's the thing: we have less control over our bodies than we think.

The dieting culture sells us products and programs as if we have complete control over our weight and body-shape. Our natural bodies are actually smarter than we give them credit for. If you've ever noticed you can't lose "those last five pounds," your body is telling you something. 

"Set point theory" argues that your body has a certain weight range where it functions optimally. This is usually within about 20 pounds although it differs based on many factors.

So take a break from restricting and over-exercising to prepare for vacation. It's a vicious cycle that can lead to eating disorders. After all, our bodies are meant to fluctuate and change throughout our lives. From the wise film, Eat Pray Love, if your pants don't fit, just buy new ones!

This shouldn't scare you away from your weight-loss efforts if it is a healthy, attainable goal for you. It's just something that really puts into perspective how health has nothing to do with physical appearance.

Just like how we can't choose our eye colour or hair texture, sometimes we just have to let our bodies do their own thing. Internalizing diet culture can upset the beautiful nature of our bodies. And how meaningless are a few digits on the scale anyways?

You must stick to a structured meal plan to be healthy

Lunchtime salad

WordRidden on Flickr

Aside from expert-recommended meal plans for people with serious health implications, it's just not sustainable to have a restrictive diet. Not only could you miss out on classic chocolate chip cookies, but serious restriction can lead to nutrient deficiencies and mental health issues.

Diet culture wants us to cut out specific foods or even entire food groups. They also present counting calories as being misleadingly linked to health. Not only are high-calorie meals delicious, they can be part of a "healthy diet."

Check out this article if you're interested in finding the healthiest diet for you.

You must be in a perpetual state of transformation

Think about how many magazines are littered with text claiming we could have the perfect life if we could only have that "perky butt" or "conquer our cravings."

The truth is model-like bodies make up less than 5% of the population. They are also monitored by fitness coaches, glamorized with top stylists and makeup artists, then photoshopped. You do not need to be constantly striving for "perfection," not only is it impossible, it's exhausting.

One of the healthiest things I learned about rejecting this diet culture message is this: body love. Body love is unconditional, it does not mean you will finally love your curves once your stomach is a bit flatter. It doesn't mean you will let yourself love your body after you exercise those Christmas meals away.

It doesn't mean you love yourself in spite of your flaws. You love yourself because of all the things that make you who you are.

Body love is not just loving your physical self, it's loving every part of you, and that's the healthiest thing you can do.