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Old 03-12-2014, 09:59 PM   #1
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Default The word "diet" and calorie counting

One thing that has a helped me through my weight loss journey has been getting rid of the word "diet." I never say things like "I'm on a diet" or "When I come off my dietů" I try to focus more on living a healthy lifestyle that I can only achieve by making changes to my current lifestyle without looking back. What about you guys- do you find yourself often saying you're on a "diet" ??

I also stopped obsessing about calories. I've realized that the more I counted calories, the more I stressed out. I stopped checking the food label to find out how many calories I was consuming and realized it doesn't really matter if I go slightly under or slightly over some days. Do you count calories??
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:14 PM   #2
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I never say that I'm on a diet. I always say "it's a healthy lifestyle change" I don't see the point of diets. I would rather just eat healthy and enjoy what I'm eating rather than call it a diet. Just never made sense to me.
I count calories on myfitnesspal but I don't get that upset if I'm over my limit for the day. I usually only count breakfast and lunch and eat til I'm full for dinner. I do get obsessive if I track every little thing. By tracking just breakfast and lunch I get a general idea of what I'll have for dinner. And sometimes I track dinner after I already ate it and I'm usually never too far over the cals anyways
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:55 PM   #3
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I do not have the stereotypical dieting mindset, but I still use the words I've grown up with.

Diet (noun) - the foods a person eats on a regular basis. A synonym for the currently more pc term WOE (way of eating).

Diet/dieting (verb) to make conscious food choices with a purpose in mind (such as blood sugar management for diabetics, symptom control for allergies, weight loss for obesity, weight gain for underweight.....)

I have no problem with saying, "I'm dieting," or "I'm watching my diet," because I know I'm talking about long-ranging lifestyle changes, not quick fixes with a starvation/deprivation focus.

I do experiment with different ways of eating, and I'm confortable calling them either diets or WOEs. I normally wouldn't say that I'm "on" a specific diet (because it does sort of imply temporariness), but I might say something like, " I'm currently experimenting with a low-carb paleo diet.

I don't mind when I or others use the new or old terms, but I do dislike the way a few people use the terms (as if the terminology itself will determine success or failure). These folks are easy to recognize. Usually there's some pretentiousness or self-righteousness in their tone of voice, as they look down their noses and declare that you are doomed to failure because you used the term diet, while they are guaranteed success because they used the more pc, term WOE, or lifestyle change (even if you're happy and consistent with your "diet" and they are miserable and change their lifestyle or WOE every day of the week).

I think having a positive, goal-oriented, non-punishing, long-term focused attitude is more important than which terms you use. If you need or want a new term to overcome negative attitudes and associations linked to the old ones that's fine, but it's also ok to use the old terms with a new attitude.
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:21 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
I do not have the stereotypical dieting mindset, but I still use the words I've grown up with.

Diet (noun) - the foods a person eats on a regular basis. A synonym for the currently more pc term WOE (way of eating).

Diet/dieting (verb) to make conscious food choices with a purpose in mind (such as blood sugar management for diabetics, symptom control for allergies, weight loss for obesity, weight gain for underweight.....)

I have no problem with saying, "I'm dieting," or "I'm watching my diet," because I know I'm talking about long-ranging lifestyle changes, not quick fixes with a starvation/deprivation focus.

I do experiment with different ways of eating, and I'm confortable calling them either diets or WOEs. I normally wouldn't say that I'm "on" a specific diet (because it does sort of imply temporariness), but I might say something like, " I'm currently experimenting with a low-carb paleo diet.

I don't mind when I or others use the new or old terms, but I do dislike the way a few people use the terms (as if the terminology itself will determine success or failure). These folks are easy to recognize. Usually there's some pretentiousness or self-righteousness in their tone of voice, as they look down their noses and declare that you are doomed to failure because you used the term diet, while they are guaranteed success because they used the more pc, term WOE, or lifestyle change (even if you're happy and consistent with your "diet" and they are miserable and change their lifestyle or WOE every day of the week).

I think having a positive, goal-oriented, non-punishing, long-term focused attitude is more important than which terms you use. If you need or want a new term to overcome negative attitudes and associations linked to the old ones that's fine, but it's also ok to use the old terms with a new attitude.
You make a good point there. When I think "I'm on a diet" it makes me think, ok so does that mean they'll eventually go off diet and not be eating healthy anymore? I never hear anyone say "I'm on a lifetime diet" So that's why it comes off as negative at times. But I do say things like "My diet is a full of fruit, veggies, and grains" or even "I'm watching my diet" The word dieting does seem temporary when used, IMO. Maybe because most of the people I know who have said that, did in fact, gain their weight back. I know that's not all people who are dieting, though, and would never tell someone they're wrong for being on a "diet". I still just say lifestyle change or just trying to eat healthier from now on because it helps me explain my healthy eating better to people who ask and it's just what I prefer. The being on a diet mindset doesn't help me push further, maybe because growing up being on a diet was always a temporary thing for me that I could never sustain. So maybe it's negative in my mind because of that. Interesting thought, though. Never really thought of it that way.
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Old 03-13-2014, 03:04 AM   #5
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I agree that it is not a good idea if you think you will go on a diet to lose weight and then plan to get off the diet once you've lost weight.

As far as calories, I do count calories and I also count Weight Watchers points. I find that it helps me if I can know what I'm taking in and what calories I'm burning (I use my Fitbit to determine that). If I don't track what I eat and set some limits then I gain weight.
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:23 AM   #6
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I agree with everything Kaplods said about the terminology. In my case, and probably in yours as well, the term diet has become associated with a temporary condition so it's better for us to think about it as a WOE even though it is perfectly legitimate to use the term diet (noun or verb).

Regarding calorie counting, I am pretty sure I've read that most folks on the National Weight Loss Registry who lost weight and kept it off did so by CC and continuing to CC in maintenance.

That said, I have gotten to a goal weight several times, usually with CC. But despite my resolution to keep CCing, I inevitable stop during "maintenance" and regain some weight until I get around to making a big effort to do it again.

So, this time instead of CCing and resolving to keep CCing at maintenance, I have taken my own limitations into account as well as all the experience I have with other approaches and designed a WOE that lets me lose weight (or at a minimum not gain, but in fact I have been losing) without counting calories. It involves an eating window and guidance (a bunch of rules) and it's very specific to me. It also involves a lot of non-eating things (sleep being a huge factor for me), so I really should call it a Way of Living, not just a Way of Eating. But the primary difference is that everything takes into account the type of behavior that I know (or am at least pretty sure) I am willing to continue permanently (another big tip of the hat to Kaplods).

I am somewhat worried that my approach does not align with the most-frequently successful strategy as those of the registered successful maintainers, but I've tried repeatedly to fit myself to that mold and failed. So, instead I am trying to tailor my approach sufficiently to overcome the odds of bucking that statistic, and that, for me, does not involve calorie counting.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:26 AM   #7
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To me I don't experience any sort of direct causation of my success (or lack thereof) between the word that I use and my results. I am a dieter and I follow a diet to lose weight and its never been a hindrance. I do think that when I am actively trying to lose weight, I use methods that I don't mind repeating and that are similar to what I want to do in maintenance but there are differences (otherwise I'd be losing forever! lol). But that is also because I like losing at a particular pace.

Personally, as far as calorie counting goes, I think that it depends on the individual. I am a list maker, and I work in data analysis, so doing these things relaxes me, so it depends on the individual.

Its all so individual, even though the result is (biologically) very similar - if terminology has a large effect on how a person approaches weight loss/maintenance, or the degree of calorie counting, etc.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:26 AM   #8
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We're on a weightloss forum, so obviously we're using words related to our eating patterns. I'm trying to completely disassociate myself from all buzz words because to me they all mean DIETING, and that inlcudes diet, WOE, lifestyle change, etc. I prefer to just call it it eating.

I don't find anyone pretentious or self righteous, we could really use an eye roll icon. If people take pride in what they do and what they accomplish then they owe it to themselves to feel good about that.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:34 AM   #9
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We're on a weightloss forum, so obviously we're using words related to our eating patterns. I'm trying to completely disassociate myself from all buzz words because to me they all mean DIETING, and that inlcudes diet, WOE, lifestyle change, etc. I prefer to just call it it eating.
Agreed! My diet is one that I've followed for six years and plan to for the rest of my life (with minor tweaks as I go). It encompasses many facets of many different "diets" but it's just the way I eat.
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:25 AM   #10
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I do not like thinking in terms of "lifestyle change." I find it both hokey (almost as bad as the cloying "weight-loss journey") and daunting. I don't think in terms of the rest of my life. That's just too darn long. I think in terms of the next food choice I have to make.

I do have a plan for active weight loss when I am pursuing active weight loss, and a plan for maintenance when I am maintaining, and I think in terms of "on-plan choices" and "off-plan choices". Part of my plan includes counting calories.

So, that's the terminology I've developed myself over the years I've been working on this.
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:26 AM   #11
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When I talk about diet I'm referring to what a person eats. Dieting of course has man different definitions. I find that if I restrict the types of foods that I eat, count calories, etc I run into problems. What I'm doing right now really suits me.
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:55 AM   #12
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I do not like thinking in terms of "lifestyle change." I find it both hokey (almost as bad as the cloying "weight-loss journey") and daunting. I don't think in terms of the rest of my life. That's just too darn long. I think in terms of the next food choice I have to make.

I do have a plan for active weight loss when I am pursuing active weight loss, and a plan for maintenance when I am maintaining, and I think in terms of "on-plan choices" and "off-plan choices". Part of my plan includes counting calories.

So, that's the terminology I've developed myself over the years I've been working on this.

HAND CLAP! I'm still trying to figure out "weight-loss journey" It might be a "trip" but it ain't no "journey" with an end. For me its a "PROGRAM" to get back to health and stay there. I do not intend to spend my LIFE so intensely focused on eating, weighing, measuring whatever. I'll go crazy! Got to fix my programing/conditioning fits for me! I'm glad there might be others that don't feel comfortable with that language.

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Old 03-13-2014, 01:46 PM   #13
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I never hear anyone say "I'm on a lifetime diet"
And why would you? This is just another myth of weight loss, that every change has to last or be invisioned for a lifetime. You have to be willing to do something forever, but what that something is can change. What you're doing today doesn't have to be what you're doing tomorrow.

Besides which, how often do you ever hear anyone's "forever plans." Do you ever hear anyone say, "I showered, pooped, and brushed my teeth this morning, as I plan on doing every morning until I drop dead"?

Why should weight management be any different than all the other things people do without a definite end in sight?


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The word dieting does seem temporary when used, IMO. Maybe because most of the people I know who have said that, did in fact, gain their weight.
And most of the people I know who use the word lifestyle change also regain. They're also more likely to continue to call their failed weight loss attempts diets and only their current method a lifestyle change (until it too fails, and then it becomes just another failed diet).

While you're trying not to be judgemental, you are falling for the mythology: 1. That "every choice must be forever" 2. must be proclaimed to be forever, and 3. that terminology affects outcome independent of attitude (which you generally cannot see in another person).

Dieters fail frequently, but so do lifestylers, just as frequently. Weight management is a very difficult skill, made harder by all the rules, myths, and catch phrases that come in and out of fashion.

"Lifestyle change not a diet" has become one of those catch phrases for at least 25 years, probably closer to 35, but permanent weight loss statistics are no better than they were then. Surely, if the "lifestylers" were more successful, there'd be more evidence.

You personally may benefit from the cognitive shift a terminology change can make easier, but statistics are pretty clear that weight management is damned difficult, no matter what you call it, or how frequently or infrequently you change your strategies.

The problem isn't that diets don't work. It isn't that forever-commitments to a course of action are necessary. A string of diets can work just as well, so long as you string the diets like unspaced beads, one touching another, rather than spaced like a rosary (forgive the sacreligious imagery).

We're taught and encouraged socially to take breaks between weight loss efforts, so if we decide the diet or lifestyle path isn't the one we wish to pursue, or if it's not yielding satisfactory results, the traditionally sanctioned response is to take a break while finding the better path.

Those socially sanctioned breaks are perhaps the biggest obstacle to permanent weight loss, or perhaps weight loss is just damned difficult no matter what you call it, or how you attempt it.
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
And why would you? This is just another myth of weight loss, that every change has to last or be invisioned for a lifetime. You have to be willing to do something forever, but what that something is can change. What you're doing today doesn't have to be what you're doing tomorrow.

Besides which, how often do you ever hear anyone's "forever plans." Do you ever hear anyone say, "I showered, pooped, and brushed my teeth this morning, as I plan on doing every morning until I drop dead"?

Why should weight management be any different than all the other things people do without a definite end in sight?




And most of the people I know who use the word lifestyle change also regain. They're also more likely to continue to call their failed weight loss attempts diets and only their current method a lifestyle change (until it too fails, and then it becomes just another failed diet).

While you're trying not to be judgemental, you are falling for the mythology: 1. That "every choice must be forever" 2. must be proclaimed to be forever, and 3. that terminology affects outcome independent of attitude (which you generally cannot see in another person).

Dieters fail frequently, but so do lifestylers, just as frequently. Weight management is a very difficult skill, made harder by all the rules, myths, and catch phrases that come in and out of fashion.

"Lifestyle change not a diet" has become one of those catch phrases for at least 25 years, probably closer to 35, but permanent weight loss statistics are no better than they were then. Surely, if the "lifestylers" were more successful, there'd be more evidence.

You personally may benefit from the cognitive shift a terminology change can make easier, but statistics are pretty clear that weight management is damned difficult, no matter what you call it, or how frequently or infrequently you change your strategies.

The problem isn't that diets don't work. It isn't that forever-commitments to a course of action are necessary. A string of diets can work just as well, so long as you string the diets like unspaced beads, one touching another, rather than spaced like a rosary (forgive the sacreligious imagery).

We're taught and encouraged socially to take breaks between weight loss efforts, so if we decide the diet or lifestyle path isn't the one we wish to pursue, or if it's not yielding satisfactory results, the traditionally sanctioned response is to take a break while finding the better path.

Those socially sanctioned breaks are perhaps the biggest obstacle to permanent weight loss, or perhaps weight loss is just damned difficult no matter what you call it, or how you attempt it.
You have made very valid points and I see where you're coming from.
Was thinking about this a bit more and the reason I had associated the word diet as negative was because of my failed diet attempts that were not even sustainable. They were very restrictive. And also the type of diets friends would consider like "the cabbage soup diet" things like that. So the weight would come back on after they stopped. But if someone were to tell me their diet was something sustainable and works, that would seem good to me. So yeah, just associating it with my own personal experiences, I guess. But I see what you're saying and it does make sense.
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:56 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
I do not have the stereotypical dieting mindset, but I still use the words I've grown up with.

Diet (noun) - the foods a person eats on a regular basis. A synonym for the currently more pc term WOE (way of eating).

Diet/dieting (verb) to make conscious food choices with a purpose in mind (such as blood sugar management for diabetics, symptom control for allergies, weight loss for obesity, weight gain for underweight.....)

I have no problem with saying, "I'm dieting," or "I'm watching my diet," because I know I'm talking about long-ranging lifestyle changes, not quick fixes with a starvation/deprivation focus.

I do experiment with different ways of eating, and I'm confortable calling them either diets or WOEs. I normally wouldn't say that I'm "on" a specific diet (because it does sort of imply temporariness), but I might say something like, " I'm currently experimenting with a low-carb paleo diet.

I don't mind when I or others use the new or old terms, but I do dislike the way a few people use the terms (as if the terminology itself will determine success or failure). These folks are easy to recognize. Usually there's some pretentiousness or self-righteousness in their tone of voice, as they look down their noses and declare that you are doomed to failure because you used the term diet, while they are guaranteed success because they used the more pc, term WOE, or lifestyle change (even if you're happy and consistent with your "diet" and they are miserable and change their lifestyle or WOE every day of the week).

I think having a positive, goal-oriented, non-punishing, long-term focused attitude is more important than which terms you use. If you need or want a new term to overcome negative attitudes and associations linked to the old ones that's fine, but it's also ok to use the old terms with a new attitude.
ITA! No offense at all to the OP (more power to you--whatever works), but for me, as long as I know what I'm doing, what I call it really doesn't make that much difference. In fact, there might be just a slight advantage to me using the word diet as it seems to be an easy, quick explanation for why I turn down certain foods that others tend to want to push on me. If I say, "I'm dieting" I might get the standard "Oh, you don't need to lose weight," but they'll generally stop offering me whatever food they were offering.
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