Why I Hate the Word "Diet"

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"Are you on a diet?"

I am so incredibly mind-numbingly sick of this question. Don't get me wrong, I don't always hate the word diet. "These ancient peoples ate a diet consisting of..." is totally fine. "There should be lots of vegetables and hot sauce in your diet for health!" also gets past my censors. But that question. It eats away at me (if you'll pardon the accidental pun).

Before I moved to Korea, I don't remember thinking about it much, but I can't say if it's due to any cultural difference or just something that's been on a slow burn that finally blew up. There are so many instances where this question comes up. for example:

-when I'm eating a salad
-when I don't take a ginormous portion of rice at lunch
-when I don't want to eat any cake that someone brought into the office
...I could go on.

Now, I can see why people might jump so such dietary conclusions. Salad is the stereotypical non-delicious diet food. Most of the Korean people I've met seem to think I'll starve to death if I don't eat a heaping portion of rice. Why wouldn't a person want to eat cake? Well, I love salad, I'm not too impressed by plain white rice, and when it comes to cake, well, thanks to practically growing up in a bakery owned by my mom, I'm an INCREDIBLY picky cake eater. There, you see? It's never because I'm on a diet.

Except that, in a way, it totally is. I want to lose some weight. I want to be more healthy. So, why do I hate the question?

I think it's because the idea of "diet" or "to go on a diet" to me means something temporary, something you do for a while and then go back to eating pizza for breakfast. It's a means to a specific weight-loss end rather than an end in itself. Diet to me sounds like a crash diet, a fad diet, like eating only grapefruit and lemon water until you've starved off the pounds, only to gain them right back the second you go back to "normal" eating.

The other thing that bothers me is the dichotomy between enjoyable foods and foods you only eat because they're healthy. It creates this feeling that vegetables are a punishment and cake is a prize, and I don't think that's good for anyone. Now, I love pizza as much as the next person, but I enjoy fresh fruits and veggies just as much, even though that sounds crazy.

Treating food as a prize and punishment system doesn't seem like a good tool for being healthy. If I eat "bad" food I feel guilty and can't really enjoy it, and if I eat "good" food I feel like I "deserve" to eat something bad and tend to overeat. Or, I force myself to eat something I don't find delicious (kale, raw carrots) just because I've deemed it "good". Do any of those habits sound healthy? I don't think so.

So yeah, there's my rant of the day. Do you have any similar questions that drive you insane? Am I oversensitive?

Teacher Pretty
Middle school ESL teacher, lover of pink, eater of kimchi, addicted to Etude House, expert procrastinator, meeter of 2-dimensionial popstars: Ana. That's me.

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