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Some of you may know I am a teacher, by trade. I have taught secondary level English for most of my adult life. I love everything that goes along with English. I love reading, curled up in a blanket escaping this crazy life of mine. I love grammar and quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) correct your speech in a conversation. And, clearly, I love writing. There is something about the written word that can stir our soul, change our way of thinking, or educate us on simple topics. Today, I strive to do just that.

No, this is not an article on how to eat. I am in no position to tell anyone at any time how to eat. One day I eat only “real” foods, perfectly blocked into macros, and other days I drink three protein drinks and eat Wendy’s for dinner. True story. That was last Tuesday. I am not a dietician or have any backing to tell you how to eat at all. As mentioned early, I am an English teacher, so I’ll stick to what I know. Somewhere along the way, our culture got ridiculously confused on the meaning of words. We have invented new ones, some of which should not be words, but I digress. The one I want to talk about today is the word diet. UGH! That is a nasty word in our culture. Everybody has a new diet to try, or a trendy diet, or “The Only Diet You Will Ever Need.” Let’s be clear about something, the word diet, by definition means “the way one takes in food.” That’s it! Nothing is mentioned in there about types of food, amounts of food, styles of food, or time in which food is eaten. Why has this word become such a detriment to our society? Why is it a bad word?

Now, before you get all Paleo on me, there are ways of eating that improve performance as an athlete. I get it. I (sometimes) watch my macros like the rest of our community. I do it for me. Not so I’ll look good in a bathing suit, or so I will be skinny. I do it to perform in the gym. To be able to do what I love to do every day without hurting myself. So, yes, some particular styles of eating are better  than others depending on what you do with your body. And, yes, we need to eat healthier as a society. I’m not saying down with all nutrition rules. What I am saying is we have a very screwed up relationship with food, and it all stems from this one word!

We live in a society where we heave guilt on people who eat cheeseburgers and also heave guilt on people who eat salads. I have watched friends of mine, as well as myself, be terrified to eat a French fry. A single freaking French fry! Seriously? We have lost our minds people. Food is food. Now, some of it these days is a lot less food and a lot more chemical. Every person, regardless of their activity level, should eat real food every day. However, we have to quit shaming ourselves about food. Whether you are overweight or -5% body fat have a normal relationship with food. I recently read an Instagram post about a girl who cried for an hour because she drank two drinks of a regular coke before she realized it wasn’t diet. Come on, people. Yes, we have to be smart about how we are eating, but we don’t get to cover ourselves or others in shame because of what we eat.

Food is not a treat, or a reward, or a punishment. Food is simply a way for us to take in nourishment. So, take in nourishment. Eat your cheeseburger and drink your beer, and then go get a handful of grapes next time you are hungry. Get up and work out, eat real food, and don’t cry in the bathroom when you don’t. A diet is a form of eating, not a punishment. Live your life, move your body, and be happy.

Author’s note: this turned in to a bit of a rant. Sorry about that.

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