The purpose of diet fads is to create a novel way to approach food. If we refashion our daily diet into a prescription for health and well-being and simultaneously eliminate guilt and shame, somehow, some way our lives will magically improve.
Typically, each successful invention in the diet industry finds new language to help rethink the role food plays in our everyday lives. It's not as if this new vocabulary alters the discussion. Instead, the shift in terminology creates the illusion of a brand new day.
New views of a healthy diet quickly are coopted by people susceptible to eating disorders. The terminology always hides food restriction or limits under the guise of health and wellness. The insidious nature of the diet industry's mastery of marketing catches those on the brink of an eating disorder at a vulnerable moment. Swayed by the latest fad, many of them will unwittingly use the vocabulary to justify a full blown illness.
Diet vocabulary is little more than propaganda for big business. The more new language seeps into the general zeitgeist of the culture, the more financially successful the diet. And the casualties left on the roadside are merely the necessary consequence of generating large profits.
One latest example is the concept of clean eating. Ostensibly, this new language represents eating whole foods with limited processed foods. People can hide behind the overt definition of the term and feel fully vindicated.
However, the word clean is loaded when applied to food. It implies that following these guidelines is inherently positive and healthy. Any other way of eating must be dirty in comparison so the combination of judgment and health appears foolproof. Feeling clean trumps the fear of judgment around food and becomes the new mantra of eating.
New diet vocabulary only provides people a way to demonize eating and thereby justify feeling tortured by conflicting, loaded thoughts about food. Diets need to be called out for what they are: propaganda to exploit society's fear and confusion around food. Diet vocabulary is not an answer. It only creates more confusion when we all need to just learn how to eat again.