Diet: A breakdown of a polarizing word

For many people, the word diet is a four-letter word – one that is lumped with other unpleasant words and has negative connotations.

However, diet is simply the food and drink that a person regularly consumes.

Our culture offers a laundry list of quick fixes, vilification of certain food groups, emotional triggers and societal “norms” that are tied to diet and often tell us that body size is something that should be constantly top of mind.

At Gastrointestinal Associates, we understand that digestive health is directly tied to overall well-being, and we want to help you optimize your health. Yes, food is a part of it, but we believe the focus should be on your long-term lifestyle to provide mental and physical benefits.

Diet pushback

The anti-diet, intuitive eating and similar movements have gained traction to counter the negative connotation of dieting. These approaches broaden the dialogue about body size, emotional well-being, lifestyles and overall health.

While there are reasons such as sensitivities, allergies and chronic conditions to limit or avoid certain foods and food groups, GIA physicians promote an approach of mindful choices without severe restrictions.

Healthy lifestyles

We help our patients find a balance to achieve healthy lifestyles that can be sustained for a lifetime. We medically evaluate your current lifestyle, condition and age. Then, we treat you as an individual to discover ways to help you maintain good health for the long term and manage any gastrointestinal conditions.

Other ways to improve health that are independent of weight and diet include:

  • Moving more – an active activity that you enjoy boosts overall mood, combats stress and leads to better sleep. 
  • Getting consistent sleep – lack of sleep, which is your body’s time to repair, is tied to a myriad of health matters, including a weakened immune system and mental health issues.
  • Drinking more water – hydration helps numerous systems in our body operate better and get rid of waste. It also is a key factor in digestive health issues such as constipation, digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Assessing mental health – anxiety, depression and other mental health issues have a domino effect on overall health. Addressing these issues can help build a foundation upon which healthy choices are made.

Food choices

If you simply define the word diet as what you consume, it’s easier to make the mental shift to making better food choices without classifying certain foods as “off limits” or “bad.”

If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, food allergies/sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s or celiac disease, talk to your gastroenterologist about what foods to limit or avoid in order to manage the condition. If you have gastrointestinal issues that are undiagnosed, make an appointment for a checkup and testing to get a clearer picture of your digestive health. 

For most people without chronic conditions, adopt a mindset of mindfulness. Try every day to eat more vegetables, fruit, lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Don’t label foods as bad or get down on yourself for enjoying a slice of birthday cake. Life is to be lived and food can certainly be enjoyed.

Gastrointestinal Associates also offers successful weight management solutions tailored to your needs with GIA 180. The programs provide counseling, coaching, support and accountability to help you on your journey to better overall health.

When you discard the negative connotations of the word diet and instead tie food choices to overall physical and mental wellness, you are on the way to a healthier future.