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The problem with the word - DIET

posted on 9 September 2014 | posted in The Paleo Diet

Itís struck me recently with the increased media attention the Paleo way of life has been receiving that there are a couple of key points that are being missed due to the terminology used, and Iíll be honest, it bugs me a little! Especially the word "Diet".

There are a couple of dictionary definitions for the word diet and they carry completely different meanings:

The food and drink usually eaten or drunk by a person or group.
An eating plan in which someone eats less food, or only particular types of food,
because they want to become thinner or for medical reasons:

In today's language the most common understanding for the word diet would be the second definition, but in reality and at the most basic level the word diet simply relates to what we eat. Our diet is the food we consume to fuel our bodies so that we can go through our day with enough energy to complete the tasks at hand.

And thatís where the problem lies; a diet is considered something you should undertake if you wish to lose weight and often for a short or restricted period of time, not the regular behaviour of eating healthy balanced foods to fuel your body efficiently.

A diet is considered a short-term fix or solution to what has often been a very long-term problem of eating the wrong foods or excessive amounts of food. But once some weight has been lost, or a target weight achieved a diet is viewed as having accomplished its goal and can be sidelined making way for the persons previous eating habits to resurface.

Now consider if a person had instead approached the word diet to carry the first definition, the food and drink usually eaten. The likelihood is that they would recognize the food they usually eat had got them to where they currently were and for a sustainable change to be made they do not need a short term fix but a long term lifestyle change. This would then in turn lead to a much healthier outlook and a more successful approach being developed.

I know from my own personal experience that diets donít work. I went to university in what I considered to be quite good shape. Sure my diet consisted of foods that were on the Paleo banned list, but my body fat was in a healthy range and I exercised regularly. Then it happened! I was out drinking more nights of the week than not, my diet consisted of fast food and other unhealthy choices and my portion sizes were embarrassing. As such the inevitable happened, I ended up gaining over 3 stone.

Uni ended and I came home in terrible shape and didnít know how to fix it so I did what most people do, I looked for a diet to follow. I tried a few books, I even attended weight watchers for a while but every time I lost some weight I stopped with whatever program I was following and went back to my takeaway cave!

I can honestly say I was looking for a quick fix, I hadn't changed my mindset and I didn't understand food further than what I liked the taste of. But when I found Paleo and started to learn about why the food choices I was making were not the best ones I could make it started to occur to me that to fix the problem I had to change how I approached food completely.
I needed to make a permanent change to achieve the results I wanted, and until I did so I would continue to be frustrated. It was all about consistency.

So what can we take away from this?

Our diet is what we eat, not a quick fix for a long term problem.
Mindset is crucial to achieving success, we have to understand that our approach and attitude to a situation will have a huge impact on the results.
Consistency is key, sustained changes over time will produce the best and most permanent results.
Itís clichťd but knowledge really is power, understanding the composition of our foods and how they help to fuel our bodies will empower a person to make the right choices.
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