The word “diet” is passé. Nobody would be caught dead admitting to being on a “diet.”
- Diets make you fat.
- Diets don’t work.
- And diets are restrictive and punitive.
But here’s the thing….nobody is on a diet anymore, but apparently now we are all on “lifestyles” and don’t even know it.
Because (say it with me now): “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.”
The truth is:
- If you are changing your eating habits to lose weight, it’s a diet.
- If you are changing your eating habits for a New Years Resolution, it’s a diet.
- If you are changing your eating habits for a 30 day challenge at your gym, it’s a diet.
- If you are changing your eating habits because you are trying to look better in a bathing suit, it’s a diet.
So it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle is just a new way of saying “I’m on a diet”.
It IS a lifestyle if it is:
- TRULY sustainable (and cutting out any single category of macronutrient generally isn’t, unless it’s driven by an underlying, diagnosed health concern)
- To make you feel better rather than look better (just a reminder: fat is not a feeling)
- Driven by a desire for health and vitality
- Inclusive of opportunity for celebration (not “cheat days” or “cheat meals”) and socializing
- Does not require counting, tracking, recording, monitoring (or other) and encourages following the body’s natural sense of hunger and satiation
And this is why I’m outspoken about Paleo and keto. Not because they are bad or wrong but because, realistically, the vast majority of people undertaking these programs are doing so for weight loss and vanity. There’s nothing “wrong” with either driver. But that doesn’t make what you are doing a “lifestyle”. It’s a diet and should be called a diet.
Keto and Paleo factually DO have benefits for certain segments of the population. As the gluten-free eating protocol does. As the vegetarian or vegan life does. There’s no “wrong” dietary philosophy. But there’s also no right one for everyone either.
So calling it a “lifestyle” when it’s actually a diet ruins it for the people who DO need to eat that way for a reason. It is also a nightmare for restaurants (the gluten free mania that swept North America shut down kitchen lines to meet the needs of millions of new gluten “allergies”) and drives the manufacturers to try to sell more diet-du-jour food (my favorite, to date, is the “gluten free!” label on the onion bag) which results skepticism toward anyone who still claims to be “gluten free” after the trend has passed and confusion in what, precisely, one should eat when fat is bad and carbs are bad and carrots are bad….
But, you say, if weight loss or vanity is a driver to get people off grains/carbs/gluten (whatever), it’s that a plus? Nay. Dieting, on ANY protocol, is not actually a magic “gateway drug” for helping people get healthier. It’s not going to help you figure out how to best eat for your body or genetics (because it following a pre-set list of rules), it’s not going to help you stick to it, and it’s not going to be more effective than a diet.
So ask yourself if you are on a “lifestyle”. It requires being super honest with yourself. Is it a diet or is it a lifestyle (rather than a “lifestyle”)?
I vote for a return of the word “diet”, so we can just admit out loud what we are doing.
Because even the best “lifestyle” doesn’t work any better than a “diet”.