Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Is healthy eating now a "diet" in the American culture?




Quirky Chick
04-27-2013, 05:28 PM
I hear a lot of people remarking, "I can't eat that, I'm on a diet" - this coming from people that aren't on a weight loss diet, but actually just trying not to gain weight. You hear about diets all over the place. I am now hearing children in the 8-10 y/o age range discussing diets. About 6 months ago my niece (8-years-old) was talking with a friend about how the girls in her class had been talking about needing to go on a diet. Also, I see a lot of people that are not differentiating between healthy eating and weight loss diets. My niece goes to me the other day exclaming that her mother put her on a "diet." Of course I knew whatever she was talking about couldn't be how it sounded. So I question it, and her mother told her that she was going to cut back on her sugary afternoon snacks; she's not cutting all sugar out, but she wants her to eat more fruit. And it's not for weight loss, obviously. She eats pretty healthy when it comes to meals, but I think what her mother wants her to learn is that snacks don't just mean junk food. So my niece associates eating healthy with a diet, rather than eating healthy, simply. Anyone else notice these things?


wolfgirl69
04-27-2013, 06:06 PM
It used to be but I don't think it's like that anymore. When I was younger it was indeed like that but back when I was anorexic I saw a lot of healthy eating blogs (And no they didn't disgust me), most were American, and they HATED when people called it a diet. Absolutely were offended. They would constantly say it's a lifestyle. I think it's both and then when the diet (Losing weight) parts done it's just a lifestyle. :D

Also on this American forum website called bunspace.com (For bunny rabbit owners-which I am-I'm am not an active member anymore) they have this thread and the motto of it is "Make it a habit, eat like a rabbit!" haha

Anyways this is just to my knowledge-maybe older people still do this?

newleaf123
04-27-2013, 07:30 PM
I don't know about eating healthy food equating to being on a diet, but what I do know from my 12- and 14-year-old sons is that in their circles, eating healthy food isn't considered "normal". On the rare occasions that we order pizza, they are thrilled that we are eating like "normal" people. :dizzy:

They tell me that classroom surveys have shown that none of the kids at school eat rice with dinner, unless they are Asian or Indian, and that none of the kids eat salad with almost every dinner, like they do.

I don't think my boys feel like they are on a diet, but I know for certain that they feel like our eating habits aren't "normal".


Chronostasis
04-27-2013, 08:10 PM
I agree with newleaf. Healthy eating is definitely not the norm in our culture by any means, and people (kids especially) notice when we are deviating from the norm. As to whether it's considered a "diet"...yeah, sometimes it is, but not always.
What strikes me is that we live in a society that thinks that tasteless, starchy vegetables (e.g. corn) drenched in butter or fried, packaged fruit snacks 'made with REAL fruit juice!', and brownies with a little bit of spinach hidden in the batter are all 'healthy.' Not by my standards! /end mini-rant

Thedollylala
04-27-2013, 08:32 PM
Yep, I bought two bottles of water, and a packet of tuna and the cashier asked if I was on a diet. Uhmmmmm

IanG
04-27-2013, 09:53 PM
corn...in moderation is actually pretty good for you. I certainly have it in my salads!

kaplods
04-27-2013, 10:16 PM
Eating healthy (whatever that's supposed to mean) is just as much a diet, no more or less than any other way of eating. There are many ways and reasons to make a conscious choice to eat a specific way, and each and every one can be considere "a diet." Weight control (whether it be for weight loss, weight management, or weight gain) is just one (or three to be technical) of those reasons. Also, there really is no "just eating healthy, " because there is no one way of eating (that is diet) that will meet the health needs of every person. Some diet changes are intended to be temporary and some are intended to be permanent, but regardless, it's often more expedient to describe changes as being "on a diet" rather than trying to explain how, why, and for how long the changes are intended to be implemented.

Personally, I think it's high time that more people, not just those who are overweight, care about how they eat. Calling it a diet doesn't make it bad or good, and neither does calling it something else.

Munchy
04-30-2013, 12:27 PM
My five year old knows about healthy choices, but that's mainly because I've always been a conscious eater and my ex husband is the exact opposite. Going between the two houses is, I'm sure, very confusing for her.

She had a little tantrum when I refused to buy some kind of boxed macaroni and cheese at the grocery store last week. I showed her the block of cheese and the pasta that I had in the cart, and kept it moving.

I purposely never use the words "on a diet" because that's not what I am. I simply make healthy choices and encourage the same from my family.

For the past month we have been going to double dance classes on Thursdays to get ready for her upcoming recital. What I've noticed is that many of the families go for fast food in that one hour break, and I have been packing dinners (I'm literally the only one!). The other moms even commented to me on the "healthy" foods that I pack.

This Thursday, they want to all chip in and order pizza. I am on the fence about it. I don't mind my daughter eating pizza once in a while (and we usually make it ourselves), but I'd rather save an ordered in pizza for a day when we can be home, eating pizza together as a special treat and/or lazy day for mommy. At the same time, I don't want her feeling left out.

I guess I'm just surprised at how often people eat takeout/fast food. I grew up with that kind of food being occasional, not weekly! My daughter and I have busy weekdays, but I still make sure to put plans into place so that we don't have to rely on too many packaged or restaurant foods. It saves our wallets and our health.

PreciousMissy
04-30-2013, 06:37 PM
I guess I'm just surprised at how often people eat takeout/fast food. I grew up with that kind of food being occasional, not weekly!

Same here. I'm not saying that we never ordered pizza, maybe once a month or every other month.

I've noticed a majority of people in the office either eat frozen bricks or fast food. There are a few who, like me, bring their lunch and going out to eat is a rare treat.

The other day a co-worker was telling me about a recipe because I had commented that her lunch smelled really good. She ended with the comment "it's diet friendly." That part hacked me off, 1) she assumed I was on a diet because I was fixing an egg white omelet, but I'll probably still eat them when I get to goal (she was right, I am trying to lose weight, but still :p) and 2) come on lady, I'm smart enough to know what healthy ingredients sound like despite being overweight *sheesh*. (I know, she didn't mean any harm)

Wow, guess I needed to get that off my chest, haha!

Anyway, I agree with the poster who said something to the effect of, actively trying to lose weight to me is a diet. When I'm done, I'm adapting to my new lifestyle...my old one wasn't working out so well for me :D

Radiojane
04-30-2013, 07:46 PM
I've been putting a great deal of thought into what we're teaching children when it comes to diet. I don't have kids, but I'm very close to my nephews. I've been working at losing weight and changing the way I eat for 9 months now. I know what killed my dad, and I know that in theory, I want my own children to grow up loving and craving veggies and fresh cooked food. Yet, I "treat" my nephews with pizza and sugary smoothies, and I've been known to sneak them treats even when they haven't eaten their healthy supper. I don't want them to have to start from scratch at 27 like I did, and I don't want them thinking that a plate of lean meat and veggies is diet food, but at the same time, I almost feel like they'll be missing out on something.

Of course they're not my children, their mother feeds them healthy meals, and I'm not sneaking them pizza every day. But it's been on my mind a lot since I started getting my weight under control. I'd like them to have a better handle on food and more knowledge and control than I had.

Munchy
04-30-2013, 09:21 PM
I've been putting a great deal of thought into what we're teaching children when it comes to diet. I don't have kids, but I'm very close to my nephews. I've been working at losing weight and changing the way I eat for 9 months now. I know what killed my dad, and I know that in theory, I want my own children to grow up loving and craving veggies and fresh cooked food. Yet, I "treat" my nephews with pizza and sugary smoothies, and I've been known to sneak them treats even when they haven't eaten their healthy supper. I don't want them to have to start from scratch at 27 like I did, and I don't want them thinking that a plate of lean meat and veggies is diet food, but at the same time, I almost feel like they'll be missing out on something.

Of course they're not my children, their mother feeds them healthy meals, and I'm not sneaking them pizza every day. But it's been on my mind a lot since I started getting my weight under control. I'd like them to have a better handle on food and more knowledge and control than I had.

I make chicken nuggets, meatballs, and macaroni and cheese that are at least half vegetable. We make pita or tortilla pizzas, quesadillas, almond milk smoothies and even banana ice cream (http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-creamy-ice-cream-w-93414).

I have never really considered that I'm depriving my child of foods because I just couldn't imagine what else she would want to eat. I find the best way to give her the nutrition that I think is important coupled with the taste that she wants - exactly what I do for myself. While every once in a while I fry wings or eat some chocolate, it's all a balance.

Below are links to some of how my daughter likes her foods. If the protein portion of her meal is already made with incorporated veggies, then I just add one more veggie and usually a starch to make a plate. Usually we eat separate meals just because she doesn't like the "one bowl meals" that I love to eat (with the exception of my incredibly-veggie rich chili which she eats with tortilla chips), and she usually eats much earlier than I do.

http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/4342583-post20.html
http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/4342588-post21.html

Misti in Seattle
04-30-2013, 09:36 PM
I think to a large extent it HAS become that in American culture. I have not been on a "diet" at all to lose these 81 (well now 91) pounds but just started eating healthful organic whole foods. But I get comments from people all the time about my "diet"

Keep Moving Forward
05-01-2013, 01:52 AM
I think the word "diet" itself has become such an ugly word. It's defined as the foods that a person consumes on a regular basis but, somehow, it has become associated with restriction and weight loss. I never claim to be on a diet, & it bothers me when people say that I am. I'm not "dieting," I eat healthy, nutritious, minimally processed foods. I think that healthy eating is definitely trendy right now, for better or for worse. With diets like clean eating & paleo, and chain stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, I think that "health food" is becoming more popular.


I've known too many girls who had their mother's or older sister's destructive weight/body issues forced on them, causing them to be insecure, self-conscious & obsessed with staying thin. It's so sad to me that little girls are so critical of themselves and feel that they have to lose weight to have value. One day when I'm a mother, I will make sure to be very careful about how I talk about myself, my body, & food in general. I won't obsess about being healthy, but I will make sure my children understand that taking care of themselves through nutrition & exercise is part of loving themselves. I'll shut up now, because I could go on about this forever.

Radiojane
05-01-2013, 01:11 PM
Thanks for the links Munchy!

I think the issues that I have stem from the extremely bad relationship I've always had with food, and I hope to have that completely under control by the time I have kids of my own. As for the nephews? Their mom takes splendid care of them and feeds them well.

My boyfriend is supposed to eat paleo to counteract the yeast issues caused by his heartburn meds, and to eventually wean off all of his meds. My brother in law is a diagnosed Celiac, and my Father in law is a cardiac patient, so at those family gatherings, we get a lot of snark from the extended family about our "special requirements" (Neither I nor my bf have ever asked for anything specific, and my brother in law is not demanding, but my mother in law bends over backwards for all of us, and I love her for it). After the last go around about our "special requirements", I finally told the one aunt that my "restrictive diet" Allows me all the fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and cheese I want. I have bread sometimes, pasta sometimes. I even have Mcdonalds sometimes. Yes, I chose not to have any candied apple salad. And yes, I don't want my bf eating things that make him sick. But to treat us like it's a quirk or a fad or we're attention seeking is really disrespectful.

ChickieBoom
05-01-2013, 01:24 PM
I hear a lot more people talking about "clean eating" than using the word "diet". So many people around me are cutting out sugar and processed foods. I don't hear many people saying that they're on a diet and I try really hard not to use that word.

Quirky Chick
05-04-2013, 07:15 AM
It's interesting to see what you all have noticed on this and everyone's input. I may not have been too clear. I don't think it's 100% wrong to say you're on a diet if trying to lose weight. But what bothered me was I noticed people don't seem to see eating healthy and being on a weight loss diet as two different things. It's like so many only eat healthy if trying to lose weight.

And the fact that children are now identifying healthy foods only with being on a weight loss diet. So that raises some flags and questions with me. Just like walking seems to be extinct. I went walking with my niece and her friends; they wanted to go with us to the Casey's store to get a drink and snack, and when we started off, one little girl asks, "Where's the car?" - I say we aren't going in one, we are walking. She says, "Why would you walk? It's not normal to walk places. That's why everyone has a car." Then the other kids started remarking the same. I asked if any of them walk with their families, and they all said no. I asked if they'd ever walked to the park, and they said no, that they mainly play video games at home - nothing active. And the same thing has occurred with the topic of "dieting," which should be healthy eating, as none of them are on diets - but if they think a bowl of fruit or a banana is a diet if they eat that instead of a bag of candy, then something is worrying. Some people act as if nothing has changed with this current children's generation with healthy food or eating habbits. When I was a little girl I ate healthy foods; fruits, veggies and not nearly as much junk food. And the same went for the other kids I knew. That wasn't that long ago; I was born in the mid 80's. We didn't view eating a banana as being on a diet. We little girls also didn't discuss needing to go on a "diet," or that we are fat, have puffy eyes, or that they are worried about not being skinny/underweight (which is what they want already, at under 10)

I also wondered if this is just going on in the US, or if this type of thing is trending elsewhere.

I noticed someone that replied on here may have taken me wrong, or in offense (Which wasn't intended. Sorry), asking what "healthy" food is. I would say things that aren't fried, highly carby, full of sugar, and processed food; things that are healthy such as lean meats, seafood, veggies and fruit, etc. I tend to eat that way even when not trying to lose - it's just not everything I eat. I would say my main problem is metabolism and the occasional comfort food/sweets, which mainly just kicks my butt in the winters when much less active.

sosurreptitious
05-04-2013, 11:55 AM
I find this a very interesting phenomenon as well. My stepdaughter believes that McDonalds should be a daily thing and that we should take the car everywhere (she is 3 and a half, but still...) while my son whom I've influenced from birth would rather walk to to park or the store and eat a lean protein and Brussels sprouts. I personally believe that the Standard American Diet has become far too processed and "fast" over the decades and it really is taking a toll on our children. There, however, has been a shift over the past few years which is so awesome to see. But I do have to agree that the general thought, unfortunately, is "diet" when it comes to healthy foods.

kaplods
05-04-2013, 12:47 PM
Think there are many stereotypes and assumptions about what is healthy, about what is unhealthy, about what is normal eatind and activity, and why one would choose one way of eating and behavior over another, and of course the assumption that you can tell how a person eats and lives just by looking at that person.

I gained most of my weight on what is usually considered healthy food in unhealthy portions. I first became fat a few months before starting kindergarten - around the time I was allowed to cross the street with my little brother to vistit our grandparents after dinner (we thought we were hot stuff because we thought we were crossing the street by ouselves, even though Mom would walk with us until she could see our grandparents' house and could see there were no cars coming. If there were she'd shout for us to wait for the car to pass).

Our grandparents ate dinner later (or maybe grandma held dinner until we arrived), but at any rate, the end result was my brother and I eating two full healthy dinners. My brother, who had a problem keeping weight on until well into adulthood stayed thin (he was also what today would be called hyperactive - my parents and grandparents were always trying to get him to eat more, but the more he ate, the more energy he 'd have and he'd burn it all off. By highschool he was eating twice what I ate, and maintaining a weight about half mine).

All my life people have remarked how healthfully I ate, and were either wondered how I could be so overweight, often assuming I ate huge amounts of junk in secret.

I knew why I was overweight -- because I always felt hungry, even when stuffed and I didn't get much exercise. I didn't realize it until adulthood, but my mother discouraged me from most physical activity either because of her own fears, or because such activities were "unfeminine." One year she pulled me out of tennis lessons because she heard kids making fun of me. I didn't care, but my mother did. She'd also tell me how "silly" I looked, or how fat people just didn't do certain things because they caused sweating and stinking.

I know today that sounds terrible, but 40 years ago there were a lot more social taboos regarding appropriate behavior. I knew before the age of 10, that I was supposed to wear dark (slimming) colors and shouldn't wear stripes or sleeveless tops. There were so many fat-girl rules (there still are, but rule-breaking is more acceptable).

Back to the original topic though, I've had to learn that healthy eating is about much more than choosing specific foods. For myself, I can choose (what seems to me) very tiny portions of moderately healthy, and mid-range calorie food, or I can eat larger portions of very low calorie foods. Usually, I'd rather have tons of veggies than the same calorie potion of grains or beans (even healthy starches tend to increase my appetite).

For some reason we humans tend to gravitate towards cure-all and one-size-fits-all thinking. And when it comes to food and exercise habits, we've come to believe that any deviation from the "normal" only makes sense in the scheme of fixing something that's broke - weight loss, allergies, diabetes, heart disease.... we're not too keen apparently on preventing illness only treating it (and even then only when it's convenient).

Quirky Chick
05-04-2013, 01:51 PM
Think there are many stereotypes

And of course the assumption that you can tell how a person eats and lives just by looking at that person.

Yes, I think there probably are. But that is not at all what I have been referring to. I am not a finger wagger or a fat basher. Heck, at my highest weight I was over 300 lbs (and my cause was due to many things, and living in a fast food place wasn't one of them - so I get what you mean). So it's not coming from here. And you don't have to be over-weight to eat very unhealthy - my grandfather ate what was considered very unhealthy and at times very large amounts of it in his day, but he looked like he'd never eaten in his life. And on the other hand, for the people we do not know the case of, it could be eating a lot of junk, too much of even healthy foods, lack of exercise, slow metabolism, hypothyroidism, or several other things - there can be several factors in getting to that point, as you've pointed out. I don't sit and guess what people eat. :smug:


I gained most of my weight on what is usually considered healthy food in unhealthy portions. I first became fat a few months before starting kindergarten - around the time I was allowed to cross the street with my little brother to vistit our grandparents after dinner (we thought we were hot stuff because we thought we were crossing the street by ouselves, even though Mom would walk with us until she could see our grandparents' house and could see there were no cars coming. If there were she'd shout for us to wait for the car to pass).

Our grandparents ate dinner later (or maybe grandma held dinner until we arrived), but at any rate, the end result was my brother and I eating two full healthy dinners. My brother, who had a problem keeping weight on until well into adulthood stayed thin (he was also what today would be called hyperactive - my parents and grandparents were always trying to get him to eat more, but the more he ate, the more energy he 'd have and he'd burn it all off. By highschool he was eating twice what I ate, and maintaining a weight about half mine).

All my life people have remarked how healthfully I ate, and were either wondered how I could be so overweight, often assuming I ate huge amounts of junk in secret.

I knew why I was overweight -- because I always felt hungry, even when stuffed and I didn't get much exercise. I didn't realize it until adulthood, but my mother discouraged me from most physical activity either because of her own fears, or because such activities were "unfeminine." One year she pulled me out of tennis lessons because she heard kids making fun of me. I didn't care, but my mother did. She'd also tell me how "silly" I looked, or how fat people just didn't do certain things because they caused sweating and stinking.

I know today that sounds terrible, but 40 years ago there were a lot more social taboos regarding appropriate behavior. I knew before the age of 10, that I was supposed to wear dark (slimming) colors and shouldn't wear stripes or sleeveless tops. There were so many fat-girl rules (there still are, but rule-breaking is more acceptable).

I agree. I see a lot of it. There is still a lot of mistreatment over it, too. I don't know if this is regional or what, but most of the places I've lived, it seemed like it was acceptable for men to be hefty, because they were men but I saw more making fun of women. Not to say everyone is like that, but it seems to not be something that most people haven't seen or heard of before. And you are right about being able to gain on anything, if you eat enough of it. But moderation is something that is needed with anything.

Back to the original topic though, I've had to learn that healthy eating is about much more than choosing specific foods. For myself, I can choose (what seems to me) very tiny portions of moderately healthy, and mid-range calorie food, or I can eat larger portions of very low calorie foods. Usually, I'd rather have tons of veggies than the same calorie potion of grains or beans (even healthy starches tend to increase my appetite).

For some reason we humans tend to gravitate towards cure-all and one-size-fits-all thinking. And when it comes to food and exercise habits, we've come to believe that any deviation from the "normal" only makes sense in the scheme of fixing something that's broke - weight loss, allergies, diabetes, heart disease.... we're not too keen apparently on preventing illness only treating it (and even then only when it's convenient).

Yes, you do see that, but I don't believe it's just one simple way, exactly. Everyone has something that works. I was just comparing eating of lots of fast foods and such (which it seems to be more common these days. I'm guessing in some cases because it's easier or faster, as well as advertising and this and that) to eating things that aren't high in sugar, fat, etc. I've read studies on how there have been rises of households that eat fast food at least once a day on average. I didn't believe it, then over the last year I have observed a lot and found out a lot about how the veggies and fruits seem to be less common in a lot of cases, unless a person is dieting. Though, again, not to say it's everyone. It just seems there has been a rise and trend here. You can tell a lot by observing kids and listening to them talk, just to see how things are, since they of course have no filter LOL.


BTW- Sorry about how I did this, I just didn't have the time to disect the post in several quotes to reply, so I put my replies under yours. :smug: