The word “diet” (from Greek diaita “course of life”) needs to reclaim its original sense of being what a person or animal usually eats and drinks, a daily fare. Instead it has taken on the more modern meaning of a special or limited selection of food chosen to lose weight (and implied here is “of limited duration”).
The whole problem with dieting, highlighted recently by the LA Times article reporting that a vast majority of all who go on diets, and lose weight, gain it all back within 5 years (many much sooner) is the assumption that a diet is something transitory. What is the dieter doing once he has “been” on the diet, go back to the habits the made the diet necessary in the first place? Well, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure this one out.
Another, more deeply seated, problem, underlying the need to go back to the “wrongful ways” of eating, is that (while two thirds of the world’s population are starving) we treat food and eating as one of our main sources of pleasure, much like casual sex, and if AIDS has been the bane of casual sex, so should obesity be considered the AIDS of eating for pleasure.
Eating has to cease to be something we look forward to a whole morning, a whole afternoon or a whole week. Satisfying a craving for sugar, or pizza, or steak, or whatever is tickling your particular fancy, is not eating; it is victual debauchery. It is an apathy, an admission that we have no higher goals, no finer aspirations than satisfying this sensual need.
Conversely, when we have higher aspirations, when we want our bodies to stay fit, slender and functional (healthy) so that we may reach our higher goals (not so that we may impress admirers of bodies), eating becomes the fueling of the system which it was meant to. Now, how many billions of dollars have been and are continually being spent on research to find the right fuel for automobiles? How does that compare to honest research into the correct fuel for the bodies of us humans?
If we honestly, brushing aside cravings and the like, took a long look at the human constitution and looked for the type of fuel she needs, we would rule out meat almost instantly, all other animal product soon thereafter and we would before long settle on a vegan diet, simply prepared to give us maximum sustenance.
The “government” claims that 35% or so of Americans are overweight. By whose yardstick? By actual observation my guess would be 85%. My point is that what is considered normal is still overweight. I’m 5’9" and I am currently crossing 140 lb. going down. I still have a lot of fatty deposits here and there. My guess is that I'll reach 125 lb. before leveling out, and that, then, will be my perfect weight, reached on a diet which is a diet, a mainstay of sustenance consisting completely of fruit, grains, rice, lentils, and salad stuffs. Wholly vegan. I am never hungry, I like what I eat, and I eat to fuel the body so that I may reach my higher goals within poetry, music and the spiritual unencumbered by weight, weakness, sickness and sensual desires.
The problem, I think, is more of a moral nature than anything else. It shares its derivation with finding no good reason to get up in the morning, the general apathy underlying the suspicion that there is no meaning to all this. This, however, is too broad of a subject to tackle in a brief essay on food.
Bottom line: Find out what your body needs to stay fit and trim. Feed it. Don’t use food as a crutch for living.