I’m giving up this four letter word.
And using a seven letter one instead.
As I walked into the store this week, I was bombarded with reminders that this is…DIET season. Rows of vitamins, weight loss shakes, yoga mats, and dumbbells now sat where only a week before chocolate, fruitcakes, and other delightful foods happily greeted hungry shoppers.
What a difference a week can make.
Everywhere I look and read, hawkers promise the perfect solution. Not until after you sit through twenty minutes of rambling will you find out you can get two bottles for the price of one—and only for the next five minutes. Act now.
For the last forty years, I’ve been trying to retrieve that twenty-year-old body that could eat french fries and fried apple pies without so much as a single-digit weight gain.
Have I been successful?
As you’ve probably guessed, no. Now, all my body needs is a picture and the pounds seem to come from nowhere. Here’s the worst part. Like an unwelcomed guest, they refuse to leave, ever.
When did we become obsessed with our weight and crave some ideal that may or may not exist?
I assumed the diet craze entered the culture only in the last century. Through one of my meanderings down the research trail, I discovered that Luigi Cornaro gave us the first diet book, The Art of Living Long in 1558. Luigi recommended a daily intake of 12 ounces of food and 14 ounces of wine. Not a bad ratio.
The Victorians of the 1800s had their own influencer for the ideal body shape, the romantic poet Lord Byron. While he may have swaggered with a lean physique, his eating habits were anything but healthy.
Since I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or social media influencer, I can’t offer you magic potions or sage advice like eating less and exercising more. However, when I explored the etymology of the word “diet,” I found a more positive story. If you trace the word back to the Greeks, it comes from diaita, “a way of life and how one leads a life.”
As I begin 2023, I’ve opted out of “diet” and chosen “healthy.” A healthy lifestyle certainly includes exercise and fresh foods, but it doesn’t shame us into some ideal that consumerism created and no one can sustain.
I probably will limit those french fries and fried pies, but give up chocolate. Never!
What is life without a pot of chicken and dumplings?
Reader’s Digest has a collection of Diet Jokes that will make you laugh, like this definition of calories: “Tiny creatures colonizing your closet. They sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night." Isn’t laughter an exercise?
If you’re trying to eat healthily but still have cravings, try these musical treats: “Buttered Popcorn” by the Supremes, “Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffet, or “Savoy Truffle” by the Beatles inspired by George Harrison’s friend, Eric Clapton who had a sweet tooth. What’s a day without Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes?”
Wise words from the queen of cooks.
“Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health.”
— Julia Child
Keep your eyes and heart open for a little awe and wonder this week. It’s low-fat and calorie-free!
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Once again, you’re on my wavelength Kathryn! I follow a woman on Instagram who, for the past couple of days, has been doing reels on the history of diets, including take Amphetamines! (Her name is Alex Light @alexlight_ldn) The obsession society has with restricting, changing, punishing our bodies and wringing the joy out of life is sad (and scary - dangerous even). I’m glad to hear you’ve chosen healthy!
Healthy. YEs. That's my word. Along with calm. Your words are lovely and I love how in sync I feel when I read your words. I will hold you accountable, dear lady. Thanks for being here. I wish you miracles.