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What’s in a (Diet) Name?

Call it want you want. I still call it diet. Filter through distractions to get to the good stuff.

Sean Puffy Combs = P Diddy

Prince = The Artist Formerly Known As = Prince

John Cougar Mellencamp = John Mellencamp

Some super popular singers have changed their names. We still know who they are.

The talent we love remains after the renaming(s).

What if I told you that you could use this same thinking about diets?food trends sign

It’s funny that over the years, the same diet(s) get revised with a new name, some tweaks, a new book, and/or some new marketing and celebrities to tell you how great they think they are. Case in point: The diet formerly known as Atkins. Oh hey, keto. I mean, paleo. …Or is it pegan? I’m oversimplifying because there are plenty of places you can get into ALL the details on loads of diets. That’s not what this is about. This is about filtering through distractions.

Here’s how some of the latest diets are similar (in a good way, because I will pretty much always try to find the positive for you):

Promotion of eating more vegetables, including fat (and this means looking at quality and type of fat, not just appropriate amounts), less added sugars, less overeating in general, and less empty calories (you know, the kind that have minimal nutrition).

There are three macronutrients that impact our health in unique ways. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat. There is no good reason to completely avoid or overdo any of them.

work out eat vegetables

Over consumption of extra calories of any kind than your body needs is what contributes to weight gain, obviously.  It’s also important to remember that activity and sleep are important aspects of this conversation, too.

Here’s what is off about many diet fads:

Protein and fat are not lower calorie than carbohydrate. Protein and carbohydrate each provide 4 calories per gram. Fat provides 9. Anything that tells you otherwise is not right.

“Carbohydrate” is not a synonym for “calories”.  Carbs are basically starches and sugars.

“Calorie” is a unit of energy. You know how we talk about fuel and gas mileage for cars? Calories could be thought of similarly in the sense that energy comes from food (our fuel), and different types of food have different levels and quality of calories (fuel).

If you are trying to manage weight, it’s about calories. Focusing on health overall means it’s about nutrition. Choosing foods that have the most nutritional bang for the calorie bucks you are spending is a great concept to keep in mind.

Calories aren’t bad. We need them like cars needs fuel. Let’s just not overfill our tanks.

There are lots of ways to honor nutrition, cultural reasons for food choices, and making the best choice we can in each moment.

Portion control, reading labels, reducing wasted food, and recycling packaging regardless of whatever style of eating you follow is something we have in common. Let’s strive for the best individual choices we can make for ourselves.

Bottom line:

You are human. We have a certain requirement to live and achieve our best self.

Choices are always up to you.

Focus on your individual needs, including health, medical history, and other important aspects of food choices that will propel you forward, not hold you back.

Take a look at your current intake. If you aren’t happy with your health status right now, don’t be mad at your past choices. Be happy about your choices moving forward, and proud of the tweaks you want to make to be a healthier you. Being human is a constant evolution. Every day, every food choice, and every meal is a chance to make a new way forward. Whatever you want to call it.

no need for perfection

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.