DIET. Did you just cringe? When you hear the word DIET does your mind conjure up a host of negative images? Do you instantly thing of counting calories, deprivation, restriction? Maybe that is because the word "diet" is often associated with what is perceived as some form of punishment. As a society we rarely discuss diet as a means of substance, but rather as a way to achieve weight loss or alter our body composition. Turn on the t.v. and you'll see several "diet" commercials, scroll social media and someone is sharing their latest weight loss secret, or scan a few magazine headlines next time you are checking out at the market - the word DIET appears more often than not, and that is because it grabs our attention. DIET has become a short term solution, yet we expect it to fulfill and support us for a long term result. The true meaning behind the word "diet" has little to do with any of those things?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines diet as, "food and drink regularly provided or consumed; habitual nourishment." In essence, our diet should be used to support a long and healthy life - habitual nourishment.
So what do you think of when you hear the word diet? Many of us mutter the word diet much like we would a curse word. Because DIET has become a symbol of reinvention we often relate it to temporary alterations that will define our dietary habits and patterns. That sounds pretty restrictive, depriving, a bit like punishment, right?! And seen from this perspective "diet" sure seems like a burden rather than a routine part of our daily life. The other day a friend shared with me a story. For a few months now this friend has been working hard to make better food choices in an effort to lose weight and improve their overall health. One day at work they walked into a conference room for their weekly meeting and discovered a buffet full of food lay out in front of them, many of these foods quite unhealthy. When someone invited them to come grab a plate and dig in their automatic response was "I can't," and they instantly felt discouraged, deprived, and disappointed...the dreaded "ugh I'm on a diet" stinkin' thinkin'. When they told me the story I was instantly reminded perspective IS everything! I gently explained that in fact they could have chosen to eat any number of those things, but instead they actually chose to work toward their goal of building a healthier life. And that's pretty great! nstead of choosing donuts, muffins, and pastries they opted for fresh fruit and some unsalted nuts they had brought with them to work that day. I asked them how they felt after making a healthier choice; did they feel good mind, body and spirit? There's a lot to be said for a happy tummy, sustained energy and the pride of taking a positive step toward a goal. Then I asked them to rephrase the "I can't" into something positive and empowering such as, "thank you, it all looks wonderful, I am enjoying_____ today" or, perhaps you would say it looks great and enjoy half a pastry along with the fruit and nuts, practicing healthy balance. How could changing your response change how you feel?
Balance is important. Life is not as simple as black or white, all or nothing, win or lose. If we are living in severe restriction it will start to feel like work, frustrated by deprivation we become increasingly unhappy, and let's face it extreme behaviors are nearly impossible to maintain over the long term, which also means at some point we will fail. Why set yourself up for failure when you could set yourself up for success? Remove the guilt and shame of not being able to maintain extreme dietary behaviors and instead reward yourself by creating a long term healthy lifestyle you CAN maintain.
The new perspective. DIET actually relates to food with an intended purpose of providing us with the energy and nutrients needed to perform and sustain essential body functions. Maybe we need to reroute our thinking, change our perspective, and give ourselves a bit of grace? Our diet can enable us to feel, live and stay well. When we practice healthy and balanced dietary behaviors we are empowered to do more than survive, but thrive! If abused, neglected, overindulged or ignored, food can have devastating health and wellness consequences. "Diet" may be a 4 letter word, but remember so is love, able, play, good, care, hope, help, best, life and zest! Don't let DIET be a 4 letter curse word in your life.
Bottom line - your diet is just one tool that can empower the body to do amazing things; combat disease, strengthen immunity, support healthy waistline goals, enable optimal fitness performance and recovery, and provide energy needed for every day function!
Live Well, Be Well!