22. Are you using 'diet' right?

May 15, 2020

The word 'diet' is a noun of Greek origin. 

According to Merriam-Webster it can be used as a noun to mean four primary things. 

 

1. Food and drink regularly provided or consumed.

2. Habitual nourishment.

3. The kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a specific reason.

4. A regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight.



The first two are what I think of when I hear the word 'diet.'

But many of you reading this and those I work with think of the latter two definitions. That's fine as the word is commonly used for all the above definitions these days but you should know and default to thinking of it in the first two and considerably older definitions. That way you can talk about diet and not immediately think it's in reference to your need to eat a prescribed way or lose weight. 

Your diet is simply the food and drink you regularly consume. The weight loss industry and epidemic of obesity popularized the word used as a means to lose weight. Before them it didn't carry so much baggage and could be talked about properly without fear of hurting someones feelings. After all, every person and culture that has ever lived has had a diet - the way they eat routinely. Only in the last century has the language morphed the word so that it can be commoditized and serve any other purpose than to keep people alive. 

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