Is healthy eating just another way of saying dieting?

Healthy green steak salad

We are all on a diet. Eating healthily or unhealthily. If we’re eating, we have a diet. This doesn’t necessarily mean we are “dieting”.

Unfortunately, the term “diet” comes with so many negative connotations due to years of “fad” diet’s and crazes. It’s a weekly occurrence seeing someone on my Facebook raving about how “That’s it, I’m going on a diet” without realising they’re already on one. It’s not a case of going on a diet, it’s about changing your current one.

The issue comes when someone who enjoys eating healthily has to explain that she’s not trying to lose weight. Why is it that someone can’t just enjoy nature’s food without being accused of dieting. Vegetables and fruits have become victims. Victims to holding the dieting label. Didn’t you realise you’re only eating them to lose weight?

The new “Are you pregnant?” dieting phrase

I’m probably overreacting here. Whilst shopping Iceland for fruit and veg I was stopped by a lady. A lady who kept staring at my shopping basket, I was getting slightly freaked out. After a few minutes of staring, she turned and asked me the question “oh, are you on slimming world?”

My brain likes overthinking. I try to shut it off, but it just carries on. My initial thought was, how rude, is this woman insinuating I need to lose weight, doesn’t she know how far I’ve come? But then, remembering how not everyone who goes to slimming clubs is overweight I pushed that thought to the back of my mind.

weightloss in progress

My second line of thinking was more of a realisation. Why does someone assume that a shop full of health foods ultimately means slimming/dieting, is it because people have forgotten the true benefits of eating well and just replaced it with ideas of weight loss?

Is the world so uninformed about nutrition and how we should be eating to keep our mind and bodies in good condition?

So what’s the real difference between dieting and healthy eating

The dieting industry is massive. But so is the nutrition industry. Yet, the line between the two can be confusing. Eating healthily is not dieting.

  • Eating healthily works alongside following healthy habits, whereas dieting works alongside unhealthy habits
  • Dieting can be restrictive, limiting and centred around deprivation. Healthy eating is about nourishing your body and not depriving it of its vital nutrients
  • Dieting usually leads to a lack of fulfilment with food. You don’t enjoy the beautiful foods you’re eating because all you’re thinking about is the unhealthy splurge you’re building up for
  • Eating healthily is about changing the way you look at food. It’s a way of life. Although groups like Slimming World are telling you it’s a way of life, which for some it is, for many, it’s a temporary fix to a larger problem

Good and Bad foods

Roca Nivaria Food

This phrase is so instilled in my brain that changing and stopping the way I think about it can be difficult. There are no good or bad foods, but there are some which are better for your mind and body than others. Dieting is about restricting “bad” foods. But doesn’t restricting always lead to wanting? It’s like the purple elephant. If I told you to restrict your mind from thinking about purple elephants, It’s exactly what you would be thinking about. Looking at foods as bad and avoiding them is a definite way to feel unsatisfied with healthy eating.

So what do we need to do?

Ditch the dieting, because you don’t need it. Stop looking at healthy foods and associating them with losing weight and dieting. Start looking at foods and associating them with how they make you feel. Staying healthy and eating well is not about losing weight. Which is where many, including myself, struggle. Sure, I could lose a few chunks of fat, but I find restriction leads to bingeing and an unhealthy relationship with food. So for me, enjoying all the foods I eat and following healthy behaviours is enjoyable, even if losing weight is slower as a result. My main aim is to feel good and happy, fat loss is just a bonus. 

Roca Nivaria Food

I’d much rather be filling myself up on necessary nutrients, feeling healthy and well, than starving myself than becoming a grumpy, miserable, wreck.

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