What do you think of when you hear the word “diet”? Deprivation, hunger, tying to lose weight, struggle, forbidden foods, frustration. Or do you think of a way of eating, a lifestyle?
I think the word has gotten a bad rap. The associations with that word are so often negative. And the implication is often that a diet ends when a weight goal is reached. We are almost doomed to fail just by virtue of the label society has placed on our eating!
But the word itself can have other meanings. Meanings that have gotten lost in the masses of us who are fixated on the scale. The word diet can refer to a way of eating for life – a lifestyle. Food in general. Whatever you eat – having nothing to do with an attempt to eat less or weigh less. My diet is made up of what I eat on a regular basis. Coincidentally, I am trying to eat healthy foods. But that does not have to be the case for that word to apply. One person’s diet might indeed be junk and fast food. Not healthy. But a diet all the same.
So why am I writing about semantics? Because I think many of us are focused on what appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel but is in fact just a light on the wall a short way in. The tunnel goes on and on and on. If we “go on a diet” we also eventually go “off” the diet. And I want to propose to you that we instead think about how we want to eat for life. Call it your diet. Call it something else.
Many of you already have changed your terminology and your paradigm. You write and talk about your “way of eating” and “lifestyle” and the like. Certainly more positive ways to look at it and typically with a long-term connotation attached. And I use those expressions too. Because I do indeed believe that I am on a journey that doesn’t end and in the past all my diets clearly came to a conclusion. (Some better than others.) But I also think it is okay to use the word. Diet. Diet, diet, diet. It doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It can stand for something great and healthy and powerful. My diet is simply how I choose to eat and I choose (mostly, hopefully) to eat healthy. It’s not the word that is the problem – but potentially the intention and purpose of the person behind it. So take that Garfield!