Diet is a Four-Letter Word

Out of all the profanities that mar our language, I think the worst offender is the word “diet” (or at least its current usage).  Rather than signifying a lifestyle characterized by intuitive eating and exercising, diet has come to mean a temporary, holy famine with its glowing halo of ever-increasing morality and perfection.  Blasphemy.

Dieting (no, not money, war, or power) is the root of many an evil.  It leads people to starve themselves, obsess about a naturally fluctuating number on a machine, abuse themselves emotionally, and be chronically discontented and discouraged.

Dieting is an addicting, potentially unending cycle, hooking its prey with empty promises of praise, admiration, and envy of your future, trouble-free body.  The reason it is a cycle is because it can’t produce on its promises.  Compliments are not enough to maintain your weight loss.  Losing weight does not mean that you won’t get sick, be fired, or suffer a major loss.  In other words, dieting does not make your life perfect.

When you go on a diet, your time, energy, and money goes into one area of your life—your weight (and possibly your health).  If you think about it, it is a period where you feel entitled to be self-absorbed.  You need to eat every 2.75 hours, spend money on special diet food, and make it to your personal training session. You are able, for a while at least, to ignore the hurt, restlessness, and regret.  Dieting prolongs your pain.

What’s that you say?  You want to go on another diet?  Shhh.  You’re hurting my ears…and yourself.

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There are 33 comments

    1. Michaela Ballmann, MS RD

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Janae! Yes, what I’m saying is that the word “diet” is tainted and carries a lot of baggage for many people. If someone wants to lose weight and maintain that weight loss through healthy lifestyle change, that’s the way to go! I’d be hesitant to say that that person is “dieting”, however, and would like to create a new term for it. A new way of eating…A new way of relating to food…

  1. Sarah

    Another great post! I really liked how you summed up the dieting experience in the second to last paragraph. “Dieting prolongs the pain.” That whole paragraph is written so well. I agree that the term ‘diet’ has been bogged down by this one viewpoint- an attempt at weight loss. I’m on a gluten-free diet because I can’t eat gluten and I feel like I have to explain that I’m not actually on a ‘diet’ when I say I’m on a gf diet. So instead, I usually just say that I can’t eat gluten. Do you think the word diet can ever be reclaimed to be used to refer to how one eats or is it forever lost and linked to attempted weight loss?

    1. Michaela Ballmann, MS RD

      Thanks for sharing your experience Sarah. I truly hope that the word can be restored to its original meaning. I think that this will come when more people seek a lasting healthful lifestyle rather than temporary drastic change that primarily desires weight loss over wellbeing.

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