When I was at FNCE last month a topic was brought up that made so much sense to me but also made me realize how often it is forgotten about. That topic was diet. Yes, I said it, diet. Your DIET is a noun, not a verb. This is the concept that I want to try and start to unravel today, knowing it will take far longer than a blog post, but let’s try anyway.
As a dietitian, I obviously hear the word “diet” fairly often, if not ALL THE TIME. It’s part of my profession’s title so it’s not surprising at all. The issue is, that I view diet far different than the average person does. I want us to stop thinking the word diet is taboo and start recognizing that it can be a good thing if treated correctly. I’m not saying go around and shout the word diet from the rooftops, but let’s not think of it as a bad four letter word.
Because, YOUR diet is a noun, not a verb. It may seem confusing at first but if we start to realize how we are abusing the word, it may become less scary to talk about and less abusive to use in a sentence. We have all been there thinking we need to go “on” a diet and then feel ashamed, angry, upset, etc. when we end up going “off” said diet. This whole action of dieting has caused us to have an incredibly unhealthy relationship with food and I’m hoping to lead the charge to get you in a different mentality.
We don’t need to be “anti-diet” per se but we need to recognize that by going on or off something we may be abusing our relationship with the word diet and it needs to stop before we can have a healthy relationship with our food, diet, exercise, etc.
Let’s dig in to what I mean when I say diet as a noun, not a verb.
As defined by Merriam-Webster:
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
As you can see, it’s pretty harmless as a noun. Yes, people have found ways to abuse the noun, but let’s just read the above again and learn from it. A diet is no more than what you eat and drink on a regular basis. We are all then consuming a diet of some sort. It will look different for everyone, and frankly, it SHOULD look different for everyone. How boring would it be if we were all the same meal replacement shake?! JK, none of us should be a meal replacement shake 😉
As defined by Merriam-Webster:
a. to cause to take food
b. to cause to eat and drink sparingly or according to prescribed rules
Ok, see the difference here? A verb is the action of the noun. So to diet is completely different than the diet itself. Well not always, but that’s what we’re aiming for. We don’t want to be ON a diet that causes us to eat and drink sparingly or according to prescribed rules. If you’re working with a practitioner who is recommending you do so AND you are seeing improved health benefits that are one story (and a good one).
If, however, you are going on a diet, cutting macros, restricting beyond that 1,200 calorie mark, etc. then you are making diet a verb and, unfortunately, continuing to have a not so healthy relationship with food. We recognize that there are people in our lives that we have a bad relationship with, let’s also recognize that we may have a not-so-good relationship with food and we must change our view on diets before we can fix said relationship.
Note: there is also a definition for diet as an adjective, “reduced in or free from calories” This seems like it needs its own post for a different day. Stay tuned.
So as you can see, both definitions of diet exist so I’m not trying to tell you that diet is ONLY a noun, not a verb. Instead, what I want you to realize is how we have the ability to decide how we use the word. In a world full of new diets, challenges, fads, etc. it can be hard to do. However, I think it would be a good exercise to see how you currently use the word diet.
When I say the word “DIET”. What are the first words that come to mind?!
Are they positive? Great. You probably view your diet as a noun and we can continue as is.
Are they negative? We’ve got some work to do. Write down what it is that you thought, then let’s find a way to work through those negative thoughts so we can get back to enjoying our food and our health.
We were not born yesterday and social media isn’t going away anytime soon. That means that our relationship with food and with the word diet cannot be fixed overnight. While I’d love to tell you to not care and to move on, it’s never that simple. However, I have one small task for you. Anytime you hear or say the word “diet” start learning what it means to you and how it is that you are using it. Let’s stop abusing the verb and start using the noun. Sound like a plan?
How do you commonly think of the word “diet” and how does it impact your life positively or negatively?