diet, the noun not verb
Being “vegan” or having a “whole foods plant-based diet” sounds to most people like a “diet”, the verb, which means abstaining from something that you would otherwise want. The only thing it in fact abstains from is what most people think is “normal” to eat. But what defines “normal”? It’s not about labelling diets or converting people from one thing to another. It’s about “diet” the noun, understanding what is truly good for us and what will make our lives better in the long term.
Diets make us afraid of eating food. Diets associate food with calories and are designed to make us think that all calories are enemies which in turn makes us anxious about eating. There’s nothing unhealthier than being afraid of the thing that keeps us alive. It’s about a whole lifestyle that includes being conscious of what foods the calories are coming from, not how many there are.
Sometimes the hardest things for us to accept are the things that are good for us. I didn’t grow up on a whole foods plant-based diet, so I understand the challenge of changing habits, especially eating habits. Not everyone can adopt a new lifestyle easily and it depends on many complex circumstances but I do believe that we should all try as hard as we can to eat properly and live a healthy lifestyle because it benefits everyone and everything, not just ourselves.
“69% of US adults are overweight and 36% are obese, and these numbers have been steadily rising over the past fifty years. 17% of children are obese, and 19% have a diet-related chronic condition. More than 1 million Americans die every year from heart disease and cancer, conditions widely referred to in the medical profession as “lifestyle diseases.” In other words, they are primarily caused by the way we eat and other controllable factors” (Mackey, 27-28).
Many people who struggle with weight loss try different types of diets, which are usually short term lifestyle changes. Dieting is restrictive and mostly ineffective, because it uses strategies such as cutting portions and obsessively counting calories. Dieting seems effective in the beginning, but as soon as you return to your old lifestyle, all the seemingly “positive” effects of the short-term diet are quickly reversed and many times you end up gaining more weight after ending a diet than you had before the diet.
Health and diet related problems don’t just suddenly occur. Your present health status is the result (accumulation) of the lifestyle you have lived up until this moment. If you have had a certain lifestyle for say 20 years, how can a 3 month diet really help, if you are going back to your old habits right after it?
A diet should not be restrictive. Eating food should bring you pleasure and should not be associated with anxiety. If you are eating truly good food, you won’t have to worry about eating too much. If you are striving to obtain optimal health and longevity, you need a diet that is healthy and on which you can stay for the rest of your life.
Mackey, John, Alona Pulde MD, and Matthew Lederman MD. The Whole Foods Diet. Hachette Book Group. 2017. Print.