If I say I don’t want a second helping of [fill in the blank], I am asked, “Why? Are you on a diet?”
Diet. I hate that word.
It implies that I am unhappy with my weight and/or body and I feel the need to improve it. When you search the word diet, most of the top results have something to do with weight loss: Three Minute Diet (really?), Weight Loss & Diet Plans, Best Diets, Diet Tricks that Work.
Somehow the word diet has become synonymous with depriving yourself of food in order to lose weight. We forget about the other definitions of the word.
Three definitions of “diet” according to Dictionary.com:
- Food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health.
- The foods eaten, as by a particular person or group.
- Food or feed habitually eaten or provided.
Am I on a diet?
So are you, and everyone and everything else in the world who eats food.
I choose (most of the time) to eat foods that nourish my body and watch my portion sizes. Sometimes that means turning down a second helping or deciding not to eat dessert. I am not on a diet.
Food and nutrition is almost a hobby. My diet is part of my lifestyle. I work at educating myself and purchasing and preparing foods that are good for me. I am not trying to imply I eat well all the time. I am far from perfect, but I do try to understand food and how my food choices affect my health.
I suppose that means I am on a “Trying to Maintain a Healthy Diet” diet.
The current negative connotation of the word diet makes it almost a dirty word. If it upsets me, someone who is fairly happy with her weight and body, imagine how it affects a person who is struggling with their self-image. We need to start working on how we think about the word diet.
We, meaning society, have created this negative use of the word. Sure, one meaning of diet says to limit oneself for the purpose of losing weight, but that is only one definition. It does not define the word entirely, nor does it define the person.
We need to focus on the healthy aspects of diet. The parts that nourish our bodies and minds. Perhaps if diet was not such a dirty word, we would not so intimidated by it. We could embrace our diet and work towards eating healthy and making positive food choices and occasional not-so-healthy choices. But either way, it is still the eater’s choice.
We need to support people who decide to change their eating habits for the better. We do not need to accuse them of being on a diet.