Diet is a word commonly used when discussing fitness strategies and goals. Unfortunately, there is typically negative connotation associated with the word, due to the improper use of the term.
Diet is defined as
• the sum of foods consumed by a person
• food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health
• the act or process of nourishing or being nourished
Most of us don’t use the word diet in the appropriate context. It’s often used to describe a plan that aims to lose weight. Diet is simply what you eat. This includes the good and not so good foods. There are several reasons I believe the inappropriate usage of “diet” should be diminished.
1. Crash dieting/vacation dieting
Often times the word diet is used to describe a restrictive eating regime that will result in weight loss. The term crash dieting describes a person who tries to quickly lose weight. There is often no regard for future health or commitment to lifestyle change. We live in a society where crash dieting is often encouraged, most times unintentionally. Instagram and Snapchat posts often promote phrases such as “summertime fine”, “bikini ready”, “summer bodies are made in the winter”, etc. For the most part, I get it. Some people need an expression or saying to keep them motivated. However, these ideas tend to promote temporary fitness (often targeted during the summer months) and dieting, as opposed to an overall healthy lifestyle.
I’m guilty of crash and vacation dieting. In the past, I would only commit to concern about my health and weight loss when it was associated with summer and/or a major event. Over time I’ve learned it’s so much easier to commit to wellness every single day. I love the expression, “Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.” It can be incredibly stressful trying to force your body to lose weight within a short time frame. It’s so much more rewarding to know that you can look the way you want to look in a bikini without having to deprive yourself of the foods you love for a specified amount of time.
2. Backlash from family, friends, and co-workers when you tell them you are on a “diet”
Over time I’ve learned people can become hypersensitive to something without even realizing it. I actually believe this is the case most of the times when people you interact with on a regular basis hear you say that you are on a diet. Throughout my life, I’ve always been what a lot of people consider “small or skinny.” However, for a large portion of my life, I’ve been small in size, but extremely unhealthy. I carried extra weight along my midsection. Whenever I would try to remedy this I would put myself on a “diet.” The diet would come up naturally in conversations with others, typically close friends and co-workers. The majority of the time I was met with, “Why are you on a diet, you’re already small?” “One bad meal won’t hurt,” etc, etc.
Often times, people are projecting their insecurity upon you, without realizing it. You have made a choice to take charge of your health and look the way you desire to look, which can be intimidating to some people. This results in distraction instead of support. So many of my close friends have experienced this same problem, which confirms I’m not alone. The scenario I see and hear about most often deals with meals involving co-workers. In the workplace, we often spend meal times with the people we work with. For most of us, that means lunch. If you travel for work that often includes dinner. There is typically a suggested venue for the meal and everyone agrees and/or votes on the suggestion. The moment you interject and say you are on a diet, other people’s projection begins. The comments and questions about your diet, goals, and overall objective begin to surface. It becomes distracting. A lot of people forego their original plan because of it. They go along with their co-workers and eat unhealthy food as if a plan to eat healthy was never contemplated.
I have personally learned to remedy this by removing the word diet from my vocabulary, especially since it isn’t being used here in the appropriate context. While dining out with co-workers or attending happy hours with friends, when questioned, I simply say I’m eating healthy. It’s my lifestyle. It removes the “temporary fix” connotation associated with telling people that you are on a diet. The word diet can be triggering. People assume you want to fix something about yourself. It’s ok if you are. We are all works in progress. When you turn the temporary fix into a permanent way of life, you typically get completely different results. People look at you as someone who is serious about health.
3. Lack of knowledge of proper nutrition
If you train your mind to only focus on health and fitness during various, sporadic periods of time, you’re likely not reaping the benefit of knowledge that comes with health research. It’s very common for some people to not understand core-essentials to healthy eating. I see people cut back on calorie intake while trying to lose weight. This can be dangerous because there are plenty of high-calorie foods that are filled with nutrients. Taking a net calorie goal approach to losing weight is a short cut. It’s important to understand the fundamentals of nutrition and plan your weight loss and future lifestyle plan in accordance.
Stop telling people you are on a diet! Make it your lifestyle.
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