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You don’t have to be “on a diet” to eat healthy

Posted by James on Dec 6th, 2007 and filed under Vocabulary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

There is a stigma attached to the word “diet”. Upon hearing the word, the first thing that popped into my head was an overweight person eating a celery stick while waddling along in a soaked sweat suit struggling through an exercise. I imagine many other people have similar images of a “diet”, or at least conjure an image of starvation and deprivation.

While out to dinner with family or friends have you ever ordered a chicken caesar salad (or any healthy meal) only to have someone yell out “Are you on a diet or something?”.

Maybe you had a fat-burger for lunch and you feel like something light for dinner. Perhaps you are trying to lose weight. The practical reasons for your meal choice does not matter to society. If you eat healthy, then you must be on some diet and people feel the urge to pick at those perceived to be “on a diet”.

This behavior is the result of society giving special meaning to to the word “diet”. I use the word often here at and feel the need to clarify the usage.

Let us analyze the word. I turned to the online edition of Merriam-Webster to provide a definition to “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 <going on a diet> 

As you can see, there are four definitions there. Judging by the first three it’s safe to say that every living organism is on some sort of diet. Some nourishment must be consumed in order to survive. Most people generally eat the same types of foods week-to-week. This means everybody is “on a diet”.

The last definition was probably inserted due to how society views the word. The irritating part to me is the “eating and drinking sparingly“. It does not have much relation to the other definitions. It also implies that when you are not eating sparingly that one’s weight will increase. It’s simply not always true.

For future reference, my use of the word on will be in relation to the a, b, and c definitions. I believe people should be on a habitual diet of balanced natural foods that are consistently consumed every three hours. There is no diet to be “on”, as that translates to some day being “off” from healthy eating.

I could be making a big deal out of nothing. Perhaps I’m more bothered by the negative connotations associated with eating in order to lose weight. It was not long ago when overweight people were embarrassed to order unhealthy food. These days it seems people are embarrassed to order healthy meals and are sometimes criticized for doing so.

What are your thoughts? Am I getting carried away over nothing?

6 Responses for “You don’t have to be “on a diet” to eat healthy”

  1. Teri T. says:

    I know exactly what you mean! When people ask me, ” are you on a diet?” I reply “no, I’ve changed my unhealthy diet, to a healthy diet.” By adding websters definition to your article, its helps to clarify things a bit. Nice post. -Teri

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