Words with Elise: "Diet"

This is why we're so confused.

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So let’s talk about the word diet, an incredibly culturally loaded word of great significance for every woman I know, probably every man. It’s Greek, it comes from dieta, which is “a way of life.” Kind of ironic, right? I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Susan Burton, who wrote a memoir called Empty, about her recovery, although she qualifies even saying that she’s recovered, from Binge Eating Disorder and a whole panoply of eating issues, which are familiar to many of us. It’s a beautiful book—she’s an incredible writer. You know Susan Burton’s voice if you’ve listened to The Retrievals, which is an incredible podcast. Anyway, she writes: “Diet is a strange word, one that describes both a deviation from the norm and the norm itself. The foods that make up a day, a week, a lifetime.” And how right she is, diet is a word that describes both the deviation from the norm and the norm itself. I think we need a new word.