The word diet has two meanings:
Diet – Noun
- The kinds of foods that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.
- A special course of food to which one restricts oneself to.
Now you tell me, which one sounds more fun?
Unfortunately, most people in the world connect the word diet to the second definition. As many as one-third of all women and one-quarter of all men in the US are on a diet at any one time.
In order to live and maintain (this being the key word) a healthy lifestyle, one must focus more on the first definition. Being healthy is about changing your life as a whole. No one can achieve health by simply dieting for three months. Instead, people choose to diet because they are looking for a quick fix, a short-term solution to all the bad choices they’ve made in their eating habits over many years. They want to drop ten pounds quickly. They want a trimmer waistline for their wedding. They want to look good on Spring Break.
If this is your goal, you are not looking for health. These pursuits are only geared towards changing your outward appearance, and before long, your diet will come to an end, and soon, you will be right back to where you started. Because diets focus only on restriction, diets have failure built into them, which is why people keep coming up with new ones to inflict on the population as a whole.
Many people end up destroying their body’s metabolism in pursuit of the latest diet. Every time a person heavily restricts themselves, loses ten pounds, gains back twenty, binge eats, then purges, they are hurting their body. Soon enough, this vicious cycle will have destroyed their body’s natural ability to regulate itself and the weight loss will come to an end.
Metabolism is another word that many people use to talk about their health and their body, but it is also one that many people don’t truly have a grasp on. To sum it up, it is the method in which your body uses chemical processes to sustain life. Or in more everyday terms, it is your body’s ability to take in and break down food into energy, which is then either spent or stored.
The average woman burns 10 calories per pound of bodyweight every day. The average man, 12 calories. This comes from your basal metabolism, meaning that if your body was to just be at rest every day, a 130 pound woman would burn 1300 calories while doing nothing.
About 70% of the calories you burn in a day comes from your basal metabolism. 10% of your daily burned calories comes from the thermic effect of food (or digestion). And so that leaves 20% that comes from exercise and every day activities. Thus, you can see how important choosing to eat well is, as exercise doesn’t make as much of a contribution to our metabolism as many think it does.
Thus, you can see that changing the way we think about food is very important in American culture. We live in a country where portions are large, convenience is priority, dieting is sexy, and gratification is our only goal. Instead, we need to start looking at the big picture of nutrition and health.
I eat well to be strong, capable, and to feed my energy needs.
Instead of a diet, we need to focus on eating for a healthy, long-term lifestyle. With this, you don’t ever take anything completely off the table. You don’t focus on restricting. Sure, there will be foods you eat less of, foods that are usually only eating during flex days or during cheat meals. But with eating for a healthy lifestyle, we focus on what we are gaining. We look to eat more of whole foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant proteins. We look to treat our bodies well, to life long lives, to feel good from the inside out. We look to do this for life because we know that health is a long-term goal.
Eating healthy, well-balance meals without large calorie deficits may not be the quick fix that you were hoping for (even though if done correctly, you can still lose up to a pound a week), but it will pay off in the long run, both with increased health and aesthetically pleasing results. Just think of it like this: you won’t get permanently well unless you permanently change the way you live.