Rethinking that Ugly Four-Letter Word: DIET (Part 1)

By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Images from Magda Elhers and Caleb Oquendo | Graphics by Shayna Bryan

Diet has become an ugly word, often associated with a drastic change in eating habits or a temporary quick fix. Limiting saturated fat intake, controlling portion sizes, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are highly recommended way to limit heart disease risk and control weight.

Unfortunately, most diets fail, and most dieters regain their lost weight within 2 years. The yoyo cycle of weight loss that results from multiple failed attempts may be more damaging than not dieting at all. Why is this happening and what can we do about it?

Picking a diet can feel overwhelming, like eating healthy requires a master’s degree in nutrition. There are an endless number of diet trends and, as long as the industry is profitable, there will always be new ones. This is in spite of the fact that most diets can be diluted down to principles of health and nutrition known for ages: eat a balanced variety, enough of the good stuff, not too much of the other stuff.

The Good Stuff

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Lean Protein
  • Whole Grains

The Other Stuff

  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Saturated Fat

Your diet is what you eat over your lifetime. This is how nutritional scientists define, understand, and research it. Your diet is not a week, a month, or even a year of restrictive eating that will guarantee health and happiness for the rest of your life.

It’s everything.

Read Part 2 to learn how to make a lasting lifestyle shift.


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Sources:

Calorie Restriction and Fasting Diets: What Do We Know? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/calorie-restriction-and-fasting-diets-what-do-we-know

Centers for Disease Control. Heart Disease Facts. (2019, December 2). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

Freedhoff, Y. (2014, November 17). No, 95 Percent of People Don’t Fail Their Diets. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2014/11/17/no-95-percent-of-people-dont-fail-their-diets

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, January 9). 8 steps to a heart-healthy diet. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702