What’s the difference between Diet and Nutrition

Or is there a difference?

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"Eat what you like and learn how to eat it" ~Margaret Marshall
What’s the difference between Diet and Nutrition? by Margaret Marshall

Too often people use the word diet when they really want to discuss nutrition or nutrition when they want to talk about diet. While these two words can have the same definition, in some incidences they have very different connotations.

Most often people use the word diet when they attempt weight loss. Because of this, the word diet has come to be defined as a denial of favorite foods. People hear the word diet, and they cringe at the thought of limiting food choices, feeling hungry, avoiding social occasions, and unhappiness. It also conjures memories of past attempts at weight loss, commercial diet programs that they have tried time and time again, or self-defeating thoughts that roll around in their minds. Because of these previously formed beliefs, often times you’ll hear people declare “Diets don’t work!”

I challenge these opinions. Diets do work!!! They work when people can begin to understand that diet only defines the way one eats. People choose all sorts of diets: vegetarian, vegan, low carbohydrate, high protein, etc. Diet just means:

D…Decide (how)




As I write in Body, Mind, & Mouth, my definition of diet is, ‘Decide how I’ll eat today’. This definition puts you in total control of food choices.

We fall into a false belief when we buy into the notion that diet means depriving ourselves of something, or of everything, we enjoy. We can easily combine nutrition with diet because nutrition is eating as it relates to our dietary needs. Those needs change over a lifetime. Children and teenagers have different dietary needs than someone in their seventies or eighties. Pregnant or lactating woman differ in dietary needs than their male partners, and overweight individuals must adjust their dietary needs if it’s their desire to lose excess body weight.

In order to stop gaining weight and start losing it, one’s diet must change from the current diet to one that produces weight loss. We cannot argue that point! The question remains how can one lose weight without feeling deprived? How do we change eating patterns to ensure all necessary nutrients are consumed?

To transition from a diet that causes weight gain to one that will achieve sustainable weight loss, nutrition must be paramount. If the word diet relates to bad memories of your previous efforts, forget it and let’s talk nutrition instead.

Six nutritional steps to take:

1. After careful consideration, you may be surprised to find that you are currently eating food with little or no thought to how much you enjoy the item. Eat only the food you love and avoid food you find mediocre. Eliminate food items that you know you can easily do without.

2. Replace the food that has been eliminated with healthier options by including fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and snack.

3. Plan to eat five to six times throughout the day. Make your meals smaller and your snacks larger, and each time include lean protein for energy and sustainability, along with plant-based products for nutrients and vitamins.

4. Assess your eating patterns to mindfully include food items considered unhealthy but that you enjoy. With careful planning you will be able to eat these items in a more controlled manner.

5. As time passes and you experience a weight loss and feel energetic, your focus and efforts will take a different course. Decide which food items and eating patterns impede your ability to lose weight. You’ll find some of your favorite, unhealthy food items no longer have the attraction they once did.

6. Understand that you must eat to lose weight and eating too little could result in frustration and a failed attempt.

In order to have successful, sustained weight loss, take the necessary steps and be patient. Keep your energy levels elevated by understanding and meeting your nutritional needs. Eating too little, depriving yourself of food, and believing “diets don’t work” will put your system into starvation mode. Diets always work when they are nutritionally and mentally satisfying. Weight loss is never about the before and after picture; it’s about making the after the forever.

Contact Margaret Marshall for media interviews or for a dynamic presentation that brings wellness to life in your corporation.

Margaret Marshall enjoys three decades in the wellness/weight loss industry. She had a seventeen- year run as a speaker and trainer for Weight Watchers and now is a media personality and an international speaker who presents wellness programs for corporations such as:

Amtrak, Pepsi, The Mets Organization, JDA, Amex, Metlife, Cannon USA, National Grid, Fort Hamilton USAG, Time Inc, Time Warner Music, Verizon, Morgan Stanley, KPMG, Fordham University, Hofstra University, The New York College for Health Professions, Molloy College, St. Francis Hospital, Winthrop Hospital, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises.

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