Ditch This Four-Letter Word From Your Vocabulary

Diet: a four-letter word that can mean two different things. First, diet can mean the foods that an individual or a community regularly eat. It can also mean to eat and drink sparingly or according to a prescribed set of rules.

These two definitions are nearly in contrast to one another— one focusing on what you eat, and the other focusing on what you can’t eat. In theory, they are getting at the same point— limit bad foods and focus on good ones, but the framing of what we think of when we hear the word diet could drastically change the effectiveness of whatever we are trying to achieve.

Our bodies need us to eat in order to live by turning calories into energy — the energy that we use to function. Without this process, our bodies start to shut down, and when food is in short supply, hormones designed to make sure that you eat begin flowing. Once these hormones start kicking in, it becomes hard to stave off hunger. So instead, we get hungry, overeat, and make poor dietary choices, leaving us back at square one because our diet is a counterproductive, all-or-nothing game — which is why diets don’t work.

Dieting relies on this all-or-nothing approach that is not sustainable in the long term. When we’re on a diet, we struggle to approach food in a balanced and intuitive way. This can lead to learning how not to nourish your body properly. Instead of abruptly changing your diet one day, start slow and make gradual changes. Healthy habits don’t form overnight. You have to make incremental, positive changes that will become natural over time.

Dieting culture also often cloaks itself as wellness, when in reality it is more about looking fit rather than being fit and living a healthy and balanced life. Your personal nutrition regimen should not be centered around looking your best. It should be about feeling and living your best. Nutrition is all about balance and moderation rather than do’s and don’ts so find what balance fuels your body the best rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all diet.

This means that your approach shouldn’t have to focus on restriction either. Instead, it should focus more on what you are getting, not what you’re giving up. Similarly, don’t force yourself to eat things you know you don’t like. Too often we associate healthy eating with plain, boring, dull, tasteless consumption. It doesn’t have to be that way! There’s a wide range of great tasting, plant-based foods that you can think about enjoying and try for the first time instead of sitting around missing the things you are eating less of.

By making these incremental changes to eating nutritious, plant-based foods, maintaining an active lifestyle, and caring for your mind as much as you do your body, you can stop worrying about the rules and restrictions of your new diet and start living your healthiest life.

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