Say the word “diet” and you’ll have most people running in the opposite direction. Let’s face it, “diet” is one of the worst “D” words, and it’s no surprise why. The word “diet” has such a negative stigma around it, thanks to society shaping it as such.
But when you look at the actual definition of “diet,” it paints a different picture. Merriam-Webster defines “diet” as food and drink regularly provided or consumed; habitual nourishment. Therefore, our diet is the food we typically eat. So if someone asks you what diet you’re on, you can reply with “my diet consists of… ”
When somebody goes on a diet that means one thing. At some point, they will also go off said diet. The typical association of the word “diet” implies several different things: restriction of one or more macronutrients or food groups, eating a large amount of one or more macronutrient or food group and/or feeling frustrated and deprived. Thinking of dieting immediately creates mental pictures of having to stay at home while your friends go out on Friday night cause drinks “aren’t on your diet,” or skipping out on a family meal at your favorite restaurant.
Going on a diet is OK in certain situations. When people are working towards a very short-term goal, say, an upcoming wedding or some other occasion such as vacation, diets can produce temporary results. Note the word temporary. The extreme measures that often accompany dieting rarely, if ever, result in long-term healthy weight loss. They instead serve as a temporary means of dropping weight (usually mostly water weight), typically in an unsustainable fashion. Picture this: You go on a diet that consists of eating three-fourths of your meals from a particular source (say lean protein and nuts, for example). At some point, your body is going to experience lethargy and other symptoms as a result of a nutrient imbalance.
So what’s the alternative to going on a diet? Weight loss is a very popular goal among fitness goers and non-fitness goers alike. Although exercise is a necessary component of the healthy lifestyle equation, eating healthy is a big (if not bigger) factor as well. But you can eat healthy without being on a diet. This is where practicing a well-balanced diet comes into play. What exactly is a well-balanced diet? The word “balanced” in itself should be a breath of fresh air, as balance in life is a necessity. Whether it’s balancing life, work, school, kids, family, relationships or whatever it may be, balance is a good thing!
A well-balanced diet is labeled as such when the things you consume consist of a combination of foods that provide you with optimal energy and nutrition. While dietary needs vary from person to person, a well-balanced diet generally consists of the following components:
- Foods from each food group at each meal
- At least 3 meals each day
It’s important to meet nutritional needs with the foods you consume, without overdoing it. Too much of a good thing does exist. In order to figure out what works best for you and your body’s needs, you can check out a variety of government sources such as Choose my Plate to help determine your caloric and nutrient needs. You can also use Fitkloud to plug in your height, weight, etc. and get a breakdown of the macronutrient totals your body needs in order to reach your goals and maintain a well-balanced diet.
The goal of a well-balanced diet is to create something that is sustainable, to partake in foods that help you experience optimal health and quality of life. A well-balanced diet is not a means to an end, it is a lifetime journey. If looking good and feeling great on a permanent scale is what you’re looking for, a well-balanced diet is your answer.