the difference between going on a diet and having a diet

All you chronic dieters out there. Listen up. You’re on one, off one, or searching for the next one. The phrase “going on a diet” is synonymous with misery, deprivation, and weight loss. “Having a diet” on the other hand, is human nature. If you eat food, you have a diet.

Going on a Diet

There’s a difference between being ON a diet, and HAVING a diet. Being on a diet usually involves obsession, blame, rules, restriction, and is not sustainable. Having a diet, on the other hand, means eating the foods that nourish your body, make you feel good, give you control, and is long-lasting. You can picture yourself eating this way your whole life without going crazy.

What it Means to be ON a Diet
• You’re obsessing over food and just stressed out about it
• You’re preoccupied with food and it’s the only thing you think about
• You blame yourself if you don’t get the results you were searching for
• There’s an emphasis on the scale, rather than other markers of health
• There are so many rules and restrictions because you can’t trust yourself, making you feel powerless
• You develop fear, frustration, and guilt around food
Diet if you can picture yourself eating this way for the rest of your life. Can you live this way? Maybe it just takes practice and habit development, but you really want to eat these foods for the rest of your life.


What it Means to HAVE a Diet
• You eat this way because you are concerned with all areas of your health
• It’s sustainable and long lasting – a marathon, not a sprint
• It’s personalized, not a one-size-fits-all plan or template that someone gave you
• It’s enjoyable and you log everything that goes in your mouth
• It’s liberating because you have complete control
So, what does it take to find a diet that works for you? If you keep these ideas in mind, you can find a way of eating that will serve you, make you feel better, and work into your life.

1. Decide you eat for health – You don’t eat for weight loss or aesthetics. You eat the foods that make you feel better – give you more energy, clear skin, keep inflammation low, don’t upset your stomach, allow you to sleep well, etc. Pizza might not be part of your diet because it makes you feel tired or bloated after you eat it. Dairy might not be part of your diet because it gives you congestion. This also means gaining knowledge and educating yourself around the foods that are best for you, which ones have the most vitamins and minerals, which ones might cause you inflammation, and what proportion of macronutrients work for you.


2. Practice good habits – Finding your perfect diet might not exactly be easy at first. I’ll use myself as an embarrassing example. My diet used to consist of: cereal for breakfast, pb&j for lunch, yogurt for a snack, and pasta with chicken for dinner. When I learned that none of this was real food, I had to make some changes. Was it easy giving up my hydrogenated oil-laden Jif peanut butter at first? Absolutely not. But once I did without it for long enough and made healthier substitutions like almond butter, cashew butter, and sunbutter (all made with real ingredients), I realized I liked eating this way much better. The more you eat vegetables, the more you crave them – especially when you add healthy fats like butter and coconut oil on top.

3. Know it will work for the rest of your life – this likely means you aren’t depriving yourself of the foods you love and your body loves. Your diet isn’t restrictive and allows for some wiggle room (more details in #4). This is why you can do it the rest of your life.


4. Make it flexible – unless you have serious allergies or food intolerances, you don’t blame yourself if you eat something you usually don’t eat everyday. You can stand to have fast food or something that might not make you feel so hot, but you don’t get your panties all in a bunch and freak out over it because you know you can just keep eating your way whenever you want.

5. Make it personalized – It’s different for everyone. Someone might feel like a million bucks eating grains, while others find that they aren’t missing out on anything if they do away with them. Others might swear by eating a ton a fruits and vegetables, while others thrive on high quality meat with every meal. What keeps your BFF lean and energetic might not be the same for you.


Megan Crozier, an instructor at Fitness on the Run, is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. With one-on-one and group nutrition coaching, corporate wellness workshops, individualized meal plans, and cooking classes, she is dedicated to helping others improve their health by finding a diet based on their individual needs. To learn more about working with Megan, you can check out her website here.

  • The latest from Megan
As a Health Coach and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Megan focuses on helping women who want to get their energy back, fix their digestion, and lose weight by eating better and getting to the root cause of their symptoms. She uses an individualized and real food approach to empower women to find a way of eating that works specifically for them.

Fitness on the Run is Fitness for Life. Combining a focus on strong bodies and strong minds with a robust wellness education program and unparalleled personalized attention, we provide fitness for health, longevity and functionality.

Fitness on the Run
210 N Lee St.,
Alexandria, VA 22314

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