Diet Is Not A Dirty Word

Diet Is Not A Dirty Word
Carly Jacobs

write a lot about manageable weight-loss, nutrition and fitness. Through out my years of writing in the health and fitness space there’s something that’s become abundantly clear to me. Most people hate the word ‘diet’.

I get that. People hear ‘diet’ and they think of horrible 80s weight loss plans full of endless plates of cottage cheese and watery cabbage soup. They equate ‘diet’ with a finite amount of torturous time that will end eventually and they can go back to drinking wine and eating cheese. People blame the word ‘diet’ for this all or nothing mentality but it’s actually fear of the word ‘diet’ that’s the problem.

In order to lose weight, you need to eat less food than your body requires. That’s a scientific fact. Eventually if you’re disciplined enough you should reach a point where you need to phase into a more manageable way of eating, these are usually called weight maintenance plans.

As a person who has lost and maintained quite a bit of weight in my life I have a method for maintenance where I eat in phases. You’ll find these phases mimic the styles of pretty much every popular diet and weight loss plan.

A hot Cup of coffee latte with colorful sculpture cookies

Dieting – when I’m actively trying to lose weight.

Maintenance – where I eat super healthy almost like I’m on a diet but I don’t sweat it if I have a few glasses of wine.

I Don’t Give A Crap – which is reserved for holidays, weddings and my own birthday.

If I’m in a dieting phase, I tell people I’m in a dieting phase (because of this) which is usually met with horrified gasps and cries of ‘DIETS ARE THE DEVIL!!! JUST EAT HEALTHILY!’.

I don’t lose weight when I simply ‘eat healthily’ and very few people do. If I ‘eat healthily’ my weight doesn’t move. I’m going to repeat my earlier statement – in order to lose weight you need to consume less calories than your body is burning. That’s what diets are. Very strict eating plans that are set for a certain amount of time for you to lose weight and then you move on to a healthy eating plan.

I’ve done every diet known to man – The Cabbage Soup Diet (totally awesome but it only works once and you will never want to eat cabbage soup again), Sure Slim (great but boring), Lite’n’Easy (fine but I found all the salt and preservatives gave me headaches) and many, many more and honestly? All diets are pretty much the same and as much as weight loss experts would want you to think otherwise, all diets are based on the 7 Word Diet – Eat food, mostly vegetables, not too much. Almost every diet I’ve been on is based on this – they’re just all packaged in different expensive boxes.

close up of young man hand holding hot dog

The issue that most people have with the concept of ‘dieting’ is what they think the opposite of dieting is. It’s not eating MacDonald’s three times a day. It’s not eating a Mars Bar for morning tea or having cheesy pasta or pizza for dinner every night. The ‘dieting’ phase of eating shouldn’t really be much different from your every day eating except a little stricter and with less room for treats.

Diet is not a dirty word and I will continue to use it as a descriptive phrase to mean I’m currently in the process of losing weight. Which is exactly what it means.

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How do you feel about the word ‘diet’? Is it a positive or a negative word for you?


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  1. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid 4 years ago

    I think you’ve summed it up perfectly. I’m in various stages of diet, maintenance and anything goes but mostly in what I call “diet denial.” That’s when I think I’m on diet but I’m having some sneaky mini egg chasers on the side. Short of splashing my cash at Weight Watchers, the best thing I can do is write down everything that I eat, it’s tedious, but it keeps me accountable and I can check that I’m on track.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      Diet denial is a big one! That’s why I love the word diet. It’s my way of telling my brain that it’s not treats for a while. It totally keeps me on track.

  2. You’ve completely changed my outlook on the word “diet”. Clearly it’s been bandied about by ‘get thin quick’ marketers far too much that we’ve become accustomed to eye rolling at the very mention of it. What you’ve said in this post makes perfect sense. Thank you darling one. x

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      You are welcome! It’s also a favourite of weight loss companies to say that their weightloss program ‘isn’t a diet’ but it is. They all are. We all just have to get over it and call a spade a spade.

  3. Christine 4 years ago

    When we strip away all the advertising and hype, diet is literally – what you eat. You could be on a reducing diet, convalescing diet, a gluten free diet or even a weight gaining diet (gasp – horror). As you say Carly, pared down, it’s a pretty simple equation of calories consumed to calories burned. Seems unfair that burning them is a billion times more effort than consuming them, though. Xx

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      I know! It’s the actual worst. But it is what it is. 🙂

  4. KellyNH 4 years ago

    You have done such a good job of summing it up here. But I also wonder why the fk anyone else cares about what someone else eats? (Im obviously talking about other adults, who aren’t suffering any health issues!).
    I hate being told I haven’t eaten enough, even though Im obviously overweight.
    I hate being told I need to eat cake because its there!
    Just shut the fk up OK? If I want to do that I will, if not, its none of your goddamn business!
    There is so much guilt and feeling wrapped up in food that in order to not get some kind of weird disorder about it I need to separate feelings from food, and just view it as what it is – fuel.
    Its either good fuel that will help my body work efficiently, or not so good fuel that may cause a few engine problems.
    Sorry….that got a little ranty :o)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      We all get a little ranty about food! I get told off constantly for saying ‘diet’ and I just think it’s weird. It’s a good word and it’s meaning is clear. I love a good diet!

  5. merilyn 4 years ago

    this is all good advice thanks smags!
    I don’t have an issue with the word these days;0
    but when I was a teenager I was trying every kind of diet! … I was round as a kid!
    i’m a disciplined eater! I find that my weight stays the same … but I have very little processed food and very few carbs!
    I think this suits my blood type 0 and body type … medium boned! I’m the right weight for my height and age! … perfecto!;0
    anyway all good I’m a bit lazy with exercise!
    but I’m working on it! … go girl! love m:)X … I praise myself too!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      Good on you! I’m A positive – the only blood type that can have wine! YES!!!!

  6. sassydrcil 4 years ago

    do you have an hour for me to talk about this?
    Seriously though, I have been working with a dietitian who does a “no diet” approach- intuitive and mindful eating. I find it liberating. Diets have fucked with my head.
    Weight is only one measure of health. At extremes it is a problem. If you are fit and well nourished you are doing it right, even if your bmi is a little over 25
    Ps I have seen you in the flesh and you are gorgeous.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      Oh thank you! That’s lovely… but I only look that way I do (very curvy and healthy looking!) because I work my ass off. I know weight is only one measure but I need to really stay on top of my weight or it creeps up effortlessly. Diets help me stay on track and keep me in a weight loss frame of mind. They don’t work for everyone though and the word has become quite polarising for lots of people.

  7. I’ve never followed an actual diet plan because I’m an insufferably lazy eater. I’ll have a salad for lunch and expect to have dropped a dress size by dinner. I reward myself for getting my 10k steps in by smashing a Tim Tam or three after dinner and then huff when my pants are tight!

  8. Cat from thatbettiething 4 years ago

    I dunno, last week there was a lady being interviewed on the radio. Her take on diets was this: beware of any words that start with the letters d.i.e.
    Kinda stuck in my mind!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      Oh funny! I do think that lots of health practitioners put fear in the word diet so they could sell their own anti-diet healthy eating plan. It’s just a word that means altering your food intake for the purpose of making a change to your body and health. 🙂

  9. nonnuclearmaven 4 years ago

    DARLING! I’m doing a bachelor of science majoring in nutrition and hoping to go on to the masters of dietetics and EVERY FUCKING PERSON ask me about if some kind of “insert name, usually Paleo” diet works. My response is always along the lines of what you said about the 7 words….Eat food, mostly vegetables, not too much. As for diet being a dirty word, who cares what is called, it’s what works for you. I’m really baffled by why people feel the need to food shame other people, I guess it ties in with your post about eating the damn cake, people are food pushers.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      Exactly! Every time I say ‘diet’ people shit their pants. If a person is purposefully avoiding a particular food or type of food for any health or weightloss reason, they’re on a diet. Not that it really matters but stop freaking out whenever someone says diet! Gosh! 🙂

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