Diets, Diets, DIETS!!!! How Did We Get Here???

Written by Megan L Chavis

The word diet has come to mean many different things. Many people think of passing fad diets that have come and gone over the years, just hearing or reading the word. I bet at least four popped into your head just after reading that first sentence. The context that the word is used in, has become somewhat distorted and often has a negative connotation. I hear people say, “oh I started a new diet”. Does that mean that you weren’t eating any of the foods you are eating now? Did you mean to say that you altered or restricted your diet? When you really break it down, really, we are all on a diet because according to Merriam Webster, the word diet is defined as “food and drink regularly provided or consumed.”

We all know why people decide to “start a new diet” or try out those popular fad diets. People want to lose weight, live a healthier life and among other reasons. So why doesn’t dieting work for so many people? I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat salads every day? Or why wouldn’t anyone want to enjoy eating large quantities of meat day in and day out? Or what about little to no carbs? Carbs are gross anyways, right? If you disagreed with any of those statements, that is exactly why diets do not work for a large number of people.

So many people find it difficult to maintain certain diets for a variety of reasons. Lack of flavor. Lack of satiety. Lack of self-control. Boredom. The list can go on and on, but the underlining reason is the same. Some diets are just impossible for people to maintain. It is unrealistic to think that there is one diet that will suit everyone. We like variety and although some diets do help people achieve their weight loss goals, there is still one last issue fighting against dieters.

We know some diets have been proven to successfully help people lose weight. This is not the issue. The problem arises when people “go off the diet,” ultimately going right back to their old eating habits and consuming the same foods that helped them gain the weight to begin with. Even more discouraging, they go off and on these “diets” only to gain back more weight than they started with. This may even cause several people to try multiple diets throughout the course of their life, trying to find the perfect one. It is a vicious cycle.

So, what is the solution? That is a tough question that only each individual person can answer for themselves. The first step may be recognizing what an achievable goal is and then asking yourself many questions to determine what a manageable and realistic solution may be for you. Some of those questions could be: Am I ready to make a lifestyle change instead of just a temporary change to achieve a temporary goal? What are some modifications and alterations that I can make to my regular diet that will create healthier options that I can maintain? Following a diet that you cannot maintain is just setting yourself up for failure. To succeed, you have to be ready to find, create or develop healthy eating habits that work for you and that can be continued to help promote a longer, healthier life!

Suggestions and helpful tips:

  • Try switching from cooking with butter to olive oil

  • Substitute one of your normal drinks with water and try adding some fruit for flavor

  • Set small goals like swapping your normal go to snack for an apple or a handful of almonds

  • Cheat every once in a while! It’s ok to let yourself have your favorite snacks or dessert every now and then and in moderation

Megan L Chavis is a dietetic student at Virginia State University. She submitted this article as an assignment for her DIET 402- Nutrition and the Community.