Dieting to many is seen as a form of restraint and miserable abstinence. Rather than seeing it as a way to fix an unhealthy lifestyle and live a more fulfilling existence, society has instead manifested a “diet” into something much more sinister, more despicable, more susceptible to disdain and scrutiny. Diets in our American culture are synonymous with fads and things for Victoria Secret models; and there lies the greatest palpability of the problems with the term. Our tendency to detach the connotation from the denotation has never failed to reach extremes; however, often our misunderstandings causes danger and danger fuels more misunderstandings. Essentially, across many decades and even centuries, we have misconstrued a word that simply meant the food one habitually eats.
Personally, I have taken immense pleasure in painstakingly counting out my calories and writing them down, or restricting my carb intake to less than 50 grams a day, or (my favorite) having to watch my family gorge on homemade chocolate desserts, all of them knowing full well that the mere sight of sugar would tempt me beyond all reproach. After finally settling on a Pescetarian diet and staying by it for three years, I have found that all of the aforementioned pleasures I had were unnecessary. And frankly, rather detrimental to my body and mind. It was in those moments of weighing myself or, tracking every gram of fat I had so shamefully consumed, that I realized this way of life was not maximizing my happiness. I had taken a concept our ancestors from so long ago and muddied it into something that had an inverse of its intended purpose. Food is meant to sustain life, not obsess over to death.
Societal pressures from media outlets, primarily online, only further the “catch 22” of failed diets and increased weight gain. The promotion of awful, awful diets–or telling an awfully misinformed public of them–along with other variables such as Photoshop and plastic surgery make for a cynical, sad generation of young people. Our vulnerability makes us very moldable to the will of some great corporation, ready to rob me of all my savings in exchange for some “Hyper-Ultra-Bladder” tea that will rip my insides. When the product does inevitably attempt to kill me, and my stomach is as flat as Megan Fox’s, I will know that I am further from happiness than I was when I had the body of Boogie2988. I reiterate: food and weight is meant respectively to sustain and maintain, not obsess over.
Vast populations will probably never come to my same conclusion. Perhaps it is too late for them to change their restrictive or gluttonous ways. To share a common stance on the issue of food I hear daily: I’m just going to die anyway. That is (fortunately) very true. And you can kill yourself slowly by eating 1,000 less calories than what is good for you or a 1,000 more. The point is, a lifestyle, a diet, is exactly as defined. It is not something even the most strong-willed of individuals can change in a couple of hours, days, or weeks. A diet is a build up, a conglomeration, of experiences one chooses to endeavor. It is the most popular way for all manner of creature, in a variety of ways, to regain the energy to continue trudging throughout the day. It is our reason to live, a primal source of joy, and a signal of merriment.
A diet is not our enemy; our understanding of a diet is.
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