Why D.I.E.T. is a Four-letter Word

Think fast: When you think of the word diet, what comes to mind? Do you think of the latest fad diet, such as paleo or keto? Does it strike dread and fear in your heart? Is it something you do just for a few weeks to lose weight so you can “look good’ for that reunion or wedding?  Do you wonder if you will ever be able to eat bread again? These are just a few of the reasons why I think diet is a four-letter word, but it is also possible that it can be reframed to remove those negative connotations and associations.  

Strictly defined, a diet is simply what a person or group of people eats and drinks on a regular basis.  So when someone says they are vegan, that means they only eat plant-based foods.  Or when we describe the Mediterranean diet, we are referring to the types of foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil) that people in that part of the world (such as France, Greece, Spain, and Italy) tend to eat.

There may also be medically-prescribed diets for people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure, heart failure, or HIV.

But today I would like to talk about the word “diet" itself, discuss some ways to reframe your approach to how you view your diet, and hopefully help remove any negative reactions or emotions that word can evoke.  

As a self-proclaimed word nerd, I love a good acronym any day, so I created one that I think is perfect for this topic:  D.I.E.T. = Daily Intention of Eating Triumphantly! Pretty neat, huh? Let’s look at each letter in detail:

D = Daily

This is just a reminder that since we have to eat every day, and every day we get to choose what we will eat.  

If you eat just one meal a day that's 365 meals a day.  Ideally, you are supposed to eat closer to probably three to four meals a day, depending on your health needs and goals. That equals more than 1000 meals in a year! 

It can sometimes be a little overwhelming when you have to plan what to eat, how much of this or that ingredient to get, and how to prepare it. And yes, it can be a daily challenge (but it doesn’t have to be). But the good thing about “daily” is that we get to do it all over again the next day, right? The old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect”, but I prefer to say “practice makes progress”!

For example, let’s say you had a target or goal for what you were going to eat that day.  You may have even been a good boy or girl and planned out your meals for the week, prepped a few days’ worth, and took food to work with you.  But then life happened, and you didn’t get to execute your master (meal) plan as you had hoped.  For whatever reason, you didn't hit your target or maybe today was a cheat day. It’s OK: take a deep breath.   Congratulations! Let me be the first to stamp your “You Are a Human Being Card”.  We all fall down, but we also get back up and dust ourselves off.

That is why I like the emphasis on “daily” here, because it reminds you you can always start anew.  Think about the things you did “right” the day before, and ditch what didn't. Did you skip a second helping of something or avoid dessert altogether? Did you drink the amount of water you wanted for the day? Bravo!  Take those not-so-small victories and improve on them the next day.

I = Intention

This refers to mindset, and how everything (including what we eat) starts with being purposeful, versus taking a more haphazard or random approach.  That goes for most things in life, and your meals should be no different. 

I like to use the example of how you may come about getting $100.

Let’s say you are enjoying a leisurely stroll on a beautiful day, you happen to look down, and there's a crisp new Benjamin laying there.  If you happen to be that lucky, that took no effort on your part (other than walking and getting your 10,000 steps in).  Winning!

Now let’s compare that to knowing that you need to go to the ATM to take out that same $100. Now you have to make time to actually go to the ATM, and that can require you to be more purposeful and do a little bit more planning, such as where the bank is, when you are going to go, etc..

The same concept applies to what you eat: You want to be intentional about planning your meals.  Be more purposeful on what it is you're going to eat so that you don't find yourself in the position of eating on the run, or waiting until you are “hangry” (hungry + angry), and end up eating less than satisfactory food or eating too much of something.  You want to fuel your body with ideal sources of quality food that will give you sustained energy the whole day.

E = Eating

This one is pretty self-explanatory, right?

T = Triumphantly

The word triumphant makes me think of a warrior, or someone who has accomplished something.

Let’s face it, sometimes daily life can feel like a battle: We are all dealing with all kinds of things vying for our time and attention: home life, work life, community involvement, self care, etc, etc, etc.  Many of us are wearing so many hats and playing many different roles every day and that takes a toll. One of the first things to suffer can be the timing and content of what we eat.  That is why it is super important that you fuel yourself with quality food so that you can face your daily challenges triumphantly.

But do remember to celebrate your wins where you can, much like I mentioned above.  When you actually stay on track and accomplish your goal for the day, that is a triumph in and of itself and should be acknowledged and appreciated.

So now that we have a new mindset when it comes to how we eat, here are some questions that may help you on your D.I.E.T.:

  • What is your daily intention to eat triumphantly?
  • What small change can you make today, and build on tomorrow?
  • What are some habits that you would like to increase? What are some you are ready to break up with?

While I myself identify as plant-based or vegan-ish, notice not once did I tell you what to eat. Now of course, as the Physician In The Kitchen, I am going to encourage you to eat the rainbow and pack as many fresh fruits and veggies into your meals as you can.  But your actual diet is a personal choice, dictated by your preferences, health, culture, finances, location, and many other things.  My main wish for you is that you simply eat the best quality and variety of food that you can, and avoid as much junk and processed foods as possible.

Be sure to follow me @physicianinthekitchen for tips on how to add more plants to your diet, and help you to have an achievable D.I.E.T.!

For more helpful tips and information, please join my Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/mealmasters today!


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