Monday, July 9, 2012

Is Diet a Bad Word?

A tweet sent last week from the owner of Green Mountain/Fox Run got my attention. It was a request to sign  “Declaration of Independence from dieting”. I clicked through and found a cleverly reworded declaration. Only, I didn’t find the truths to be “self-evident”
Dieting often demonizes foods making them more appealing as forbidden fruit.
Dieting generates stress and feelings of failure for many.
Dieting is the antithesis of healthy eating.
Dieting results in most people regaining the weight they lost and more

After receiving an “invitation” one has to RSVP, so I tweeted back
@MarshaHudnall @FuelinRoadie I'm all for independence from insanity but not sure "diet" synonymous with unhealthy or misery.
@MarshaHudnall @FuelinRoadie some workouts are dangerous but we don't say don't workout...about approach not word "diet"
Are we talking master cleanse, Weight Watchers or a vegan diet? Diets, unlike “men” aren’t created equal, I follow a gluten free diet and my eating isn’t “the antithesis of healthy eating.”I’m all for independence from guilt and negativity but “just say no” doesn’t really provide us with a roadmap for what to do. I tried again:
@FeedMeImCranky1 winging it doesn't produce a healthy relationship with body or food either. For some a "diet" isn't restrictive but planned.
It seemed to me that diets were getting unfairly treated and lumped together.
Seeking the Canada of language, I consulted Merriam Webster
Definition of DIET
a : food and drink regularly provided or consumed
b : habitual nourishment
c : the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason
d : a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight It turns out one of those tweeting agreed with me somewhat. Annabel Adams (no relation to John Adams that I am aware of) had this to say: 
Annabel Adams @FeedMeImCranky1@Foodtrainers nothing wrong with planning & learning (I advocate those things); but the goal for me should always be #health not weight loss
Says who? I want to eat as healthfully as I can and want to look good in a swimsuit, No matter what we sign we’re not going to remove weight loss from the “empire”.I’m pushing for life, liberty and the pursuit of health (or weight loss).  Thankfully, we don’t all have to agree.
Do you think diet is a bad word? Are all diets bad? Can we realistically remove weight from the equation?


  1. I think they are right to say diet is a bad work. I really love the women over at that place and I think their messages are wonderful. When you are talking about veganism, and gluten free, those are lifestyles, not really diets. Don't you think? In our society we think of diet as something that is temporary (or at least, I think that's what we think....). I try to use the word "lifestyle" more than diet.

  2. See it becomes a technicality. Why is gluten free a "lifestyle" but Paleo is a diet? And what if someone wants to do a 2-week diet where they are strict before a vacation or reunion? Many people are capable of doing this without "demonizing certain foods". The whole no diet movement can alienate a lot of people who want to have a healthy relationship with food but also like to experiment with cleanses, different ways of eating etc. Workouts can be obsessive but it sounds insane to tell people to only workout for health purposes... As a health professional I help clients sort out their relationship with food, keep it positive and fun and have no issue if this is a "diet".

  3. SO glad you brought up this topic Lauren! I've been working on some updates or my website and been trying to come up with different slogans, some of which include the "D" word in them, but not in a weight loss kind of way, but rather in an a, b, or c definition above kind of way. My only fear with using the word diet is that people now have so many negative connotations with it....Sigh! I don't see anything wrong with saying I follow a gluten-free diet. And, I may follow my "diet" with the overall goal being "health", but it's ok if someone else has the goals of health AND weight loss with their own "diet".

  4. why can't a diet be good though? Why can't we change the way we work with food? I know you're not disagreeing but it's just a word and all about sorting out what works for you and

  5. Yes, a diet {for weight loss} can absolutely be a good thing, but for me personally, the issue of diet for health is most important. i.e. I wouldn't recommend a diet of Big Macs to a client {or something similar} even if it promoted weight loss, because it's not a healthy diet.

  6. I understand what you're saying and think this must be frustrating in your industry. Diet has a temporary meaning attached to it. I think it used to be referred to as a 'reducing diet' when it was meant to be short-term for a reunion or wedding, etc. Our diet is what we eat all the time and some people don't get that anymore. But if you said a Western diet, I think people would understand that you mean the whole of what we consume.

  7. Yesss this bothers me every time the word "diet" is used... it's become synonymous with "restricted eating," or "eliminating foods." I wish we could go back to the time a "diet" simply meant "what an individual eats." The conflation of diets and lifestyles leads people to make assumptions about certain ways of eating that aren't always accurate. What can we do?

  8. Oh, the grammar police (me) won't like what I wrote! Diet doesn't have a temporary meaning, it has taken on the meaning of being temporary. Anyway, I'm sure I had something more intelligent to say than what I typed.

  9. point on and the word diet comes from the Greek lifestyle

  10. must be your diet getting to you.

  11. I don't think it's frustrating, as I see it as a word. The truth is, I use "food plan" or "Foodtraining". If people have had bad experiences with diets or the diet industry, maybe they aren't on the right plan. I think lumping all diets together isn't all that useful. And then what eat what you want and feel badly even though you're not on a diet?

  12. we probably need to spend more time talking about good food, good ingredients, good food producers and recipes and less about what we call it. For some, eliminating foods for digestion, to counter emotional eating (with sugar say) works. Even "restricted" I think can be seen different ways. Many people are vegan is that "restricted" or raw. What one person sees as restrictive another sees as how they eat to feel their best and therefore there's nothing negative.

  13. so once again it's an American distortion.

  14. I think it's really just semantics. Whether you call it a "diet" or just "the foods that you eat and don't eat", what really matters is what you do, not what you call what you do. At the end of the day, if "diet" has a bad connotation to an individual person because of their prior experiences or whatever, then maybe it's best for them not to think in terms of "diet" but rather a "food plan" as you say. But if one has no hangups about "diets" then it's probably just fine. As you mention, Webster's defines "diet" in several ways.

  15. Agreed, there's the word choice (very individual) but then there's the backlash against weight loss. I think we have to respect that we all go about this food thing differently. There's a lot in the "diet industry" that's shady but I think that's true of most fields.

  16. I agree with really is just semantics.

    Oh, and I have to throw in that I really love your dedication to Twitter. I need to get back on it again...

  17. Heather @Gluten-Free CatJuly 14, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    I'm one of those people who doesn't like the word "diet". It just has a bad connotation. I associate with a quick fix without lasting results. I also associate it with unhealthy means to a temporary skinnier end. The diet industry makes so much money because people are looking for those quick fixes, and meanwhile we are a fatter nation than ever before. I am ALL for healthy eating and encouraging healthy relationships with food. I just have a hard time with the word "diet".