The Every Body Is Beautiful Project

How I'm Reclaiming the Word 'Diet'

Recovery, WellnessOphelia's Place

One thing we understand in our work through Circles of Change is the power of language. Language can either bind us or set us free. Words can mean a lot of different things, and can change in meaning by whoever or whatever dominates it. One word I am so ready to take back and reclaim for myself, and for our Circles of Change movement, is the word “diet.”

The true meaning of the word speaks to something that we have, not something that we do. We have a diet, already. We don’t need to go on one. As humans, our diet is the collection of sources we use to fuel our body on a daily basis. It’s not something we have to motivate ourselves to do. It’s a natural part of how we function to exist and remain alive.

But we don’t live our lives with this understanding anymore. We’ve become imprisoned to the fabricated, oppressive definition of the word. How many times have you heard yourself or someone say, “Tomorrow, I’m going on a diet, “ or “when I was dieting, I …”

Photo via David Sedrakyan

Photo via David Sedrakyan

Our society has actually taken the word, made it a verb, and built a multi-billion dollar industry underscored by tenors of shame, blame, unworthiness, and not-good-enoughness.

So, I’m taking the word back – we’re taking the word back, to its roots, to the purity of what it is, and we hope you’ll join us.

I’m washing the word clean. I have nothing to feel shameful about. My diet is a beautiful thing. It’s not a restriction, limitation, or filled with good food or bad food. It’s a listening to what my body (and brain) needs at that very moment.

Most of the time my body is telling me to choose nutrient-rich foods that make me feel balanced and whole inside, as opposed to the highs and lows, the shakiness, that can come with artificial ingredients. Sometimes my body says it wants a sweet or savory packaged product to satiate a craving produced by that product. Either way, instead of judging myself, I simply try to enjoy it and then pay attention to how I feel.

When we tune into our bodies and listen to the response of our diet, we’ll come to know what is fueling us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Sometimes we may not know this right away, and may need the help of others to set us up on a nutritional path, so we can get back in tune. Over time, we can begin to discern the difference between what we feel and how we feel, and hopefully extend some grace, love, and compassion towards ourselves as we do. Food is our body’s source of fuel, but it can also be a wondrous pleasure. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

We also don’t have to be one or the other- meaning “fat” or “thin.” Those are just more words to label us, categorize us, and shame us because they have also been hijacked by this oppressive industry.

Health comes in every size. You cannot always see it.

As a culture, we’re slowly making strides with our language when dealing with systemic oppression around race, gender, and sexuality, to name a few. We still have a long way to go, but let us not dismiss the oppression we’ve become to normalize around our bodies. This form threads through all peoples of all backgrounds, and prevents many from living as they feel called to.

For today, I’ll do my part in creating change by reclaiming the word diet. It’s now mine, for me, of me. May you claim it for you, too, and may we all continue to create ripples of change.