A temporary measure, a means to an end. Nope, that’s not a diet.

Have you ever been “on a diet”? A plan? Actually, we are all experiencing a diet right now, no matter what you eat – or don’t eat. The word itself came into use in the 13th century and according to Merriam Webster, it meant “habitually taken food and drink” and in the Middle and early modern English periods it referred to a “way of living”. And if you google the Merriam-Webster definition of diet you will find that the first two meanings for the word diet include:

a) “food and drink regularly provided and consumed”

b) “habitual nourishment”

And the third and fourth noun definitions include:

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”

I’m partial to definition ‘b’, it’s what I consider my diet to be each day, a habitual nourishment. Has a nice ring to it, right? And much less pressure, as nourishment is not bound to labels like ‘low-fat’ or ‘low-carb’ or ‘low calorie’, which don’t serve anyone in the long run. As Meghan Telpner has said, and I resonate with, “labels are for tin cans“! If you are choosing foods that fit into a labelled diet, that doesn’t mean that particular label is your identity for all eternity and that is applies to all aspects of who you are. Perhaps you eat like the Paleo crowd, does this mean you ARE Paleo? Perhaps you choose to eat Vegan, does this mean Vegan is your sole identity? Or do you simply enjoy foods that fit into a particular style of eating? Associating with a label can build community within that label (yay for community!), but it can also create information silos and echo chambers that only reinforce the data supporting the ideals of that particular community (and yes, there is a LOT of data supporting a variety of viewpoints). We have to remember that people change, bodies change, nutrition information changes and life stages change.

So what’s the answer? Let’s go back to the definition of diet.

Green Smoothie for you

Habitual Nourishment

Simply what sustains you and maintains you, what helps you grow and thrive. That’s what your diet can be defined as, it’s what you eat regularly, the word simply refers to what you commonly consume. Is what you commonly consume sustaining you? Helping you thrive? THIS is where your focus should be, on providing yourself with the nourishment you need (and deserve!).

Often we consume certain foods out of comfortable habit, based on the foundations laid down in our early childhood and teenage years. There can often be emotional layers to this, a sense of tradition and consistency with what we’ve experienced in the past. Cultivating new habits and traditions can help overcome this, but I won’t pretend it’s easy peasy. 

While I won’t dive into forming new habits – not yet – I do want to spark some resistance to the current cultural idea of “diet” and the concept of deprivation that often accompanies it. If you are looking to adjust your commonly consumed foods, to ensure your habitual nourishment is actually nourishing, start by becoming aware of what you’re eating, if you like it and how you feel afterwards.

  • Value your food – pay attention to what you are eating

  • Enjoy your food – slow down, take a deep breath and focus on the act of eating (it’s awesome!)

  • Pay attention to how you feel – don’t ignore your body! Listen to how it reacts to what you’re eating

  • Try new things – variety is consistently tied to overall health, so don’t stick to a small repertoire of foods

So let’s agree to ditch the current cultural meaning behind the word diet, okay? The culture around it is toxic and doesn’t lend itself to true wellness, but to labels and deprivation mentality. Somehow food has become complicated, when it is really just meant to be simple, we are meant to eat the good, whole things naturally arounds us – like apples, kale and beans!

“Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. And we nourish all those things when we eat well.” – Michael Pollan

Doesn’t Micheal Pollan say it well? Eating well IS your diet – your habitual nourishment, your way of living and not a restrictive set of rules or a set eating pattern!

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