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Diet.


You’re visiting your parents in your hometown. During your stay, you stop at the local Stop & Shop. In the entrance of the store, you yank on one of the green, plastic hand baskets that is stuck to the stack below it. You’re fumbling with this predicament for several minutes. Suddenly, you hear your name. It’s one of your old high school acquaintances. What’s the first thing that *insert name here* says to you? He/she comments on your physical appearance.

Why is this?

Why not say something like, “Hey! Haven’t seen you in ages! What book are you reading right now?!”

Why do people feel inclined to comment on the way that we look? 

 


To the general public, physical appearance seems to be more important than any other deeming qualities. For example, just because Senator Ted Cruz bears some semblance to the Zodiac Killer from the 1960s-70s, there is a conspiracy theory that he is the unidentified serial killer. Come on, people. That’s just ludicrous. Lets scrutinize the politicians’ policies, not facial features.


I recognize that “physical beauty” is something that (most) humans innately find intriguing. Poets have grappled with the notion throughout time (see Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 here); however, the concept of “beauty” is fairly similar to the concept of “perfection.” There is no concrete definition. Moreover, a desire for these two intangible things can lead to some pretty ugly outcomes. 

For the purpose of this blog, I want to explore our society’s infatuation with perfection and beauty. These two abstract concepts seem to contribute to the development of body dysmorphia and eating disorders, in particular. Unhealthy relationships that people develop with themselves, and with food, can lead to long term biological consequences (circumstances depending).

 

What do I mean by unhealthy relationships with food?


The pejoration of the word”diet”


Lets take the word “diet” — which definition, shown below, resonates with you?

 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides us with four varying meanings of the word:

a  :  food and drink regularly provided or consumed

b  :  habitual nourishment

c  :  the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason

d  :  a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight <going on a diet>

 

The first known use of the word “diet” was in the 13th century. It comes from the Middle English word “diete,” from the Anglo-French, from “diaeta,” from Greek “diaita,” which translates to manner of living, from “diaitasthai” to lead one’s life.

Right now, my brother is following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet because he is experiencing a flare up from his ulcerative colitis. He absolutely hates that he must eat in a strict and precise way, but knows that this diet has helped alleviate his symptoms in the past. Therefore, at the time being, my brother identifies with definition c.

On the other hand, most, but not all, people identify with definition d. In linguistic (or language) terms, we can say that the word “diet” has undergone a language change called pejoration, the downgrading or depreciation of a word’s meaning. The word has gradually gained a negative connotation, or stigma, if you will.


 

At this point in time, “diet” generally equates to certain fads that people see, hear, or read about online, or in a magazine.

{Raw Food Diet, Low/No Carb Diet, Blood Type Diet, The Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet), Detox Tea Diet, Banana Diet, Paleo Diet}

From my understanding, the diets shown above promote weight loss, usually at a rapid rate. Those who understand the ramifications of such diets shudder at their premise.

It’s dangerous to try and control weight by intentionally interfering with the body’s natural process of metabolizing foods. Losing weight quickly by restricting intake or eliminating certain food groups for a long period of time in order to decrease one’s gravitational pull (aka weight) can be catastrophic.
Each person is different, as we all should know by now.

Each and every one of us requires a different amount of fuel to keep our fires burning. 


“Life is a fire”

Pretend that you have a fire pit in your backyard. Can fire magically appear under normal circumstances? No, there needs to be some sort of fuel for the fire. A fire needs fuel to burn, just like the human body needs food in order to live and thrive.

Food for us is like fuel for a fire, or gasoline for a car. Foods contain different combinations of nutrients and have the potential of producing different amounts of energy. The potential is measured in units called calories. A calorie, one of the things that some people fear most, is simply a unit of energy. Ironically, we often fear what we need to live.

Each body requires a certain amount of calories, but this number is completely dependent on the individual. Grandma Fran, who I love dearly, requires less calories/energy (in the form of food) than my Grandma Elaine. Due to her handicap, Grandma Fran sits for most of the day, while Grandma Elaine is always on the move. If we think about my grandmas in comparison to cars, then Grandma Elaine will quite obviously require more fuel more often than Grandma Fran. Right? Right. In essence, everyone’s tank requires a different amount of fuel.

Once you realize that you do, in fact, need food to live, and that food is not the enemy, you can focus your attention on nutrition—the most beneficial form of fuel.

Our bodies need nutritious food to thrive. On a small (and usually disregarded) level, we require certain nutrients to ensure proper cellular activity. When our bodies function properly, we are able to breathe, think, and most importantly, live.

 

Next time you think of the word diet, think of definition b:

habitual nourishment

 

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