“Diet” is a Four Letter Word

Posted on | June 13, 2014 | 6 Comments

All my life, it seems, I’ve been telling people I’m on a diet.

In high school, I counted out how many grapes I could eat and not go over my calorie limit. In college, I took appetite suppressants and “yoga-ed” like a crazy lady. I was always counting and measuring and denying and starving myself into submission. Always two or three or four steps away from the “perfect” weight, no matter what my weight actually was.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was being THAT mom who lingers on the playground talking to the other kids and soaking in their awesomeness, when I heard a little girl, no more than six, say something in their play about dieting. They were playing house, nothing major, and certainly the child was NOT on a diet, but perhaps she’d heard her mother say that before, or her aunt, or a friend, and to her, that was what mothers say when faced with food of any kind.

It broke me a little inside to hear those words come out of the soft lilting lisp of a pre-K student.

It flashed those images of my high school self, dressed in baggy clothes and embarrassed by my boobs and body that didn’t fit the “00” stereotype of most of the girls in my class. I was an 8 on a good day. On a day when I starved and sucked in and tightened the strap around my boobs. On most days, I was a 10.

I weighed 120 pounds at 5’8″ and I thought I was fat. I thought I needed to diet to mold myself into that “00” ideal of the 5’3″ girls around me.

Even now, I’m uncomfortable saying what I weigh… scared that someone will raise an eyebrow. I’m scared to have my boyfriend, who loves me for exactly who and what I am, stand beside me when I’m on the scale. I’m terrified to take that first step onto the large office scale of my doctor and constantly joke that I’m wearing “heavy shoes” or a lead bra.

But when I heard that little voice say the word “diet” it occurred to me that it’s time I stopped saying it.


Because “diet” is a four letter word.

Diet implies imperfection. It implies there’s something wrong with the way I look, with what I weigh, with how I feel about myself. “Diet” implies that I need to deprive myself of all things, to force myself into a shape other than the shape I am.

“Diet” implies I am unhappy, displeased, discontented with being exactly and precisely who I am.

So yesterday, when J asked me why I was having a salad for dinner, I didn’t say it was because I’m on a “diet,” even though I’m sure I’ve used that word before. Instead I smiled and said “Because salad is healthy. And I want to be really healthy so I can stay your mom for a long time.”

“Diet” is a four letter word. But “healthy?” Healthy is not. And I’d much rather our girls say THAT when they’re pretending to be grown ups.


6 Responses to ““Diet” is a Four Letter Word”

  1. Joanna
    June 13th, 2014 @ 9:13 am

    Yes, I can relate. We use the word healthy a lot. Of course, now Madison has picked up on what’s not healthy and when she’s given pizza or something else she will look at me and say “mom, this is not a healthy dinner, right?” So then we talk about moderation and that we try really hard to make good choices most of the days but some days we can have fun and enjoy treats. It seems like a constant battle.

  2. Law Momma
    June 13th, 2014 @ 9:16 am

    J does the SAME thing. He’ll be all “Mom, that is NOT healthy. That is junk.” And then I feel guilty for enjoying it!! hahaha

  3. Robbie K
    June 15th, 2014 @ 8:24 pm

    I was just talking about this with a friend the other day. Another friends 3 yr old son was eating what most would consider a healthy lunch at the park & he said he needed to stop eating as “this apple has too many calories!” I have never talked about being on a diet and instead say I am trying to take better care of myself and make healthy choices/be more active. This is especially important now that my nearly 11 year old daughter is noticing things.

  4. Law Momma
    June 17th, 2014 @ 8:48 am

    So sad!!!

  5. Jess
    June 16th, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

    Yup. Healthy is the way to go. Lord knows I’m not healthy and I have a lot of work to do. Healthy, not diet.

  6. Law Momma
    June 17th, 2014 @ 8:48 am

    It’s a struggle for me, but I know it’s worth it to you with those two beautiful daughters of yours!!!

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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