Why Are We Scared of the Word 'Diet'?

Is this what the word diet really means?These days, we're almost always watching what we eat. People are going gluten-free, considering juice cleanses, and cutting out chemicals, food dyes, and other additives, all in order to live a healthier life -- and maybe lose a few pounds in the process.

Just don't call it a diet.

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“The concept of being on a diet is, I think, losing favor even if you are watching what you eat,” Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, told Time magazine. “It’s so much easier for Americans to say 'I’m concerned with wellness'."

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Celebrities have been on the "wellness" wagon for so long that they routinely shill their cookbooks as guides to feeling great. Gwyneth Paltrow's latest offering, "It's All Good," has been mocked as being devoid of actual ingredients and slammed by nutritionists for urging people to avoid many foods. But even though the rail-thin actress is touting the mostly gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free recipes "to lose weight, look good, and feel more energetic," she doesn't go so far as to call what she does a "diet." Instead, it's about her lifestyle. (Also, "some of it is genes," she admits.)

In Jessica Alba's new book, "The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You," the actress also doesn't advocate dieting; instead, she encourages people to consider "eating honestly," even though she recently ordered her husband to lose weight.

Instead of describing the things we actually eat, the word "diet" now represents the quick fixes that failed. We're so wary (and weary) of the word "diet" that the National Institutes of Health is calling their eating plan for lowering cholesterol a Therapeutic Lifestyle Change instead. Another buzzword: Wellness. Dieting doesn't work if you can't lose those last 5 pounds. But achieving at your wellness goal is much easier, especially since you can redefine it at will. Add probiotics? Done! Include more super fruits in your diet? No problem! Detox to lose weight? Why not? You're no longer restricting what you can eat, you're opting for a different lifestyle.

"This is my life now," Sheri Nilsson told WebMD after losing 101 pounds. "That life [before the weight loss] wasn't as much fun as this one."

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