The Definition of ‘Diet’

August 9, 2010

di·et [dahy-it]

–noun
1. a highly restrictive, regimented eating program, often viewed as punitive, consisting of bland, tasteless food items that create feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration.

–verb
1. the act of limiting one’s nutritional intake to food items 1) comprised of at least 90 percent water, 2) resembling sticks and twigs, or 3) belonging to the Sylvilagus Transitionalis (aka Cottontail Rabbit) food group.

Origin: Root word “die.” English for “cease to live; become indifferent;  to suffer as if fatally.”
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Okay, so maybe Webster and I have a difference of opinion on the definition of diet. But I doubt the lexicographer ever struggled with the temptation of Krispy Kreme donuts or worried about how he looked in a two-piece.

I do not think it is a coincidence that the word DIET is simply DIE with an extra letter. And I believe whoever thought up this word added “T” because dieting fits the misery of death to a tee.

That’s why dieting is counterproductive to anyone looking to shed a few LBs. When a person is overweight, I contend that they already carry an element of misery deep down in their psyche. Dieting just reinforces all of the negative feelings associated with being fat – embarrassment, lack of control, frustration, anger and low self-esteem. When you diet, you put yourself on restriction – the same thing we do to awful, wicked children who throw rocks through patio door walls or kick the cat or ruin the family portrait by picking their nose.

The power of perspective is an amazing thing. Rather than looking at your new eating habits as a diet, think of it as a never-ending splurge. Create a new approach to food and eating that makes mealtimes feel like an indulgence, a delightful gastric interlude, cuisine crafted to satisfy your emotional and physical needs.

Before you start snickering, let me give you an example of how this works.

You toss together some iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, a few narrow slices of deli ham and spritz it with lemon juice, feeling very virtuous about the healthy salad you’re having for dinner. Yet an hour later you’re elbow deep in the freezer looking for a wayward fudge pop or pillaging the kids’ stash of lunch treats.

That’s because you were feeding your scale, not your soul.

My version of salad goes something like this: organic baby spinach, juicy sliced strawberries, shredded deli chicken, toasted almonds and a drizzle of raspberry vinaigrette.  Toss gently. Serve on fine china with half a glass of cabernet sauvignon.

Sure, my salad takes a little more creativity and some of the ingredients might be a bit pricy, but look what I’m serving up: a meal that says I’m worth the time, effort and money. A well-nuanced, flavorful, satiating, healthy meal that fulfills my hunger and my spirit.

So, my friend, ditch the diet. Instead, let your meals and food choices be an expression of your worth, in investment in your health and measure of your commitment to changing your life permanently. In the words of Cajun chef, Justin Wilson, “I garontee, nothing tastes as sweet as success!”

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