Every culture has its share of idioms, slang, and interpretations of certain words or phrases. Even within a culture, a word as simple as ‘pop’ means a sweet, carbonated beverage to some folks, while to others it’s just a noise that every balloon eventually makes.
Most of the time, these cultural-specific words or phrases have little impact. It’s likely that no permanent damage has ever occurred over a misunderstanding between cola, pop, and soda minions.
Sometimes though, the impact is a bit more broad. For example, the electronic cigarette industry will be forever on its heels because of how people feel about the word cigarette. At the end of the day, no amount of positive messaging is going to reverse several decades of demonizing the word cigarette. The going might be slightly easier if the e-cigarette forebears had the insight to detach their industry’s name from the most hated product of the last 100 years.
Which brings us to the Mediterranean Diet… it’s not a diet.
Sometime in the development of our collective modern American subconscious, the word diet became deeply - and nearly exclusively - associated with the act of losing weight. And that’s a shame because the Mediterranean “Eating Regimen” is so much more than a mechanism for weight loss. Its health benefits span from aiding in the reduction of certain cancers to overall longevity. Blue Zones anyone?
Of course, adopting the Mediterranean Diet can help you lose weight too. In fact, we promote a combination of SimpleMD bars (to help reduce your daily caloric intake), extra virgin olive oil, and Mediterranean meals as a pathway to weight loss. Ahhhh, nothing like a diet high in irony.
Given the number of Americans who are either on a weight loss regimen. or plan to be on one, it’s doubtful we’ll ever reverse the appropriation of the word. It’s too inconvenient (e.g. Spock-like) to say, “no thanks, I am on a weight loss regimen.” We may not economize portion sizes, but we absolutely economize words.
Every dictionary recognizes both definitions of the word. And Team Weight Loss owns the verb-form outright. However, it’s worth noting that in every dictionary, the first definition is always in reference to how or what one eats (e.g an eating regimen), and leaves weight loss to secondary or tertiary status.
All of us should treat the word ‘diet’ the same way as the dictionaries. Embrace the Mediterranean Diet as an eating regimen, with improved health as the primary outcome. If you decide that weight loss is your goal, choose an eating regimen, like the Mediterranean Diet, to help you on your journey.