How an anti-diet nutritionist honors her culture's food on Instagram

Instagram is filled with health influencers who make a living telling you how to eat to feel your best — which is often just synonymous with dieting. We spoke with Dalina Soto, RD, LDN, an anti-diet nutritionist with over 32,000 followers on Instagram, about building a social media platform that challenges diet culture and honors cultural traditions to create a non-diet A healthy version of colonization. As Kelly Rodriguez-Caro says.

I recently saw an article where a woman mentioned that she never had two slices of pizza at once until she was in her thirties, and this is the culture I want to dismantle. I examine how food culture reinforces why many of us are so afraid of food, and why we describe certain foods as good or bad. Social media influencers have been known to reinforce this idea, promoting fad diets that provide quick results. They sell their followers quick but unsustainable results that are easy to try.

Authentic Latin cuisine is often disparaged in the nutrition world, especially staples like white rice and tortillas. Almost every client I work with comes to me because they were told that our authentic dishes "terrible." Early in my career, I worked with Latino clients with chronic illnesses who were told to cut out carbs or “anything white” in order to manage their health; this often meant asking them to give up everything they had in their lives. Eat cultural food. From an anti-diet perspective, I always think about what we can add as a source of nutrients, rather than what we can take away. This could look like incorporating different cultures into meals, or seeing what else is available on the menu at your local pizza place, such as adding different toppings or garnishes.

The more substitutes we make, the more likely we are to forget the abuela’s original recipe over time.

But it also requires forgetting the American standard that your meals have to look a certain way and half your plate has to be vegetables and fruits. Traditional Latin dishes may not feature broccoli or cauliflower as a side dish, but we eat yuca and sauces rich in root vegetables. People think you're not getting enough plants in your meals without realizing you're cooking with them.

Food is more than just nutrition or fuel for the body. Our ancestors ate these foods. They are woven into the fabric of our cultural history – we can keep our culture alive and thriving. I like to post my cultural foods whenever I'm home, so my followers see me eating my mom's white rice and beans. I'm against the idea of ​​"healthy" traditional Latin dishes. We don’t have to sacrifice authenticity to enjoy a meal. The more substitutions we make — like white rice for cauliflower rice, or yogurt for sour cream — the more likely we are to forget abuela’s original recipe over time.

There is a common misconception that being against diet means being against health. But on social media, that means breaking the mold and offering nutrition and wellness resources that offer support rather than promote shame. I proudly eat ice cream in my posts and remind my followers that they don’t have to “earn” the right to eat dessert or snacks. I told them to throw away the scale. Live your best life and define what health means to you – nothing will enhance your health like this.

This interview has been edited and condensed.