Why ‘diet’ is a dirty word in my house


After decades of misuse, the word ‘diet’ is packaged with some truly upside-down thinking and it’s influencing our health in all the wrong ways.

It’s up to us to change the story for the next generations.

Full disclosure: I’ve been yo-yo dieter too. Start Monday, eat office birthday cake Wednesday, ruefully decide to start diet next week.

Why doesn’t the resolution ever stick?

A damaging pattern of thinking exists around ‘diets’ and what we believe about food. But this negative food culture can be turned around by simply by ditching the diet and creating a new food story.

How the ‘diet’ word got so dirty

If we look back over the past 50 years or so, we can see the growth of the fad diet market. Quick celebrity weight loss plans, liquid detoxes, and cabbage soup diets were front-page stories.

(I did the cabbage soup diet. If I close my eyes and inhale, I can still smell it.)

Because of the nature of these fads, ‘diet’ has become an ugly word that means deprive, restrict, and generally just have zero fun. And yep, let me assure you, the cabbage soup diet is definitely not fun.

The end result is that now, when we say, “I’ll start my diet on Monday”, we’re really saying, “I’m going to steel myself for the pain of saying no to everything fun, and picking celery fibres out of my teeth”.

Bad food doesn’t mean good fun

We’ve got it all upside down. The idea of eating healthy foods like vegetables and fruit (the lifeblood of our bodies) has come to inspire a total lack of enthusiasm, because we’re going to be missing out on ‘all the good stuff’ (destructive junk food).

I’ve spoken to plenty of people who refuse to make better food choices because they have said an existence without sugar-loaded sweets, pizza, and cola is not really an existence at all.

How can we expect ourselves to stay on track with healthy eating, and pass healthy food habits to our kids, when we have that kind of cultural mentality around good and bad foods?

Challenging the definition of healthy eating

So ladies, it’s up to us to reframe the word ‘diet’. We need to ditch the old negative feelings and cultural habits, and write a new story, like this:

Instead of saying, “I’m going on a diet,” try saying “I’m going to focus on really healthy, life-giving foods.”

Or, “Today, I’m going fill my body with the kinds of foods that help boost my energy and focus”.

What about, “I’m going to choose to eat foods that make me feel clean and fresh on the inside”?

And how about this one: “I’m worthy of eating foods that make me proud of myself, and confident in my skin.”

When we turn the story around, we turn a set of negative, restrictive rules (the ‘diet’) into freedom and liberation (“I’m doing this for myself, so I can feel better and be better”).

In essence, you’ve given yourself a Mission Statement.

Then, when it comes to office parties and Friday nights with friends, it’s not so hard to say no, because that junk food is not in line with your mission to fuel your body with energising, clean foods that make you feel proud and happy.

The flow-on effect is that you’ll show your own kids how to rethink food and set their own mission statement. They’ll take their healthy attitude into adulthood, and then into their own family.

No more fad diets, just a healthy, positive mindset about good foods – the real kind.

If you need some inspiration for healthy recipes, just click here.

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