The Difference Between a Diet and a Lifestyle

July 27, 2017lectinfreemama


I hear people say about their changed eating habits, “It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle choice,” and I wonder what the heck that even means. I heard one woman say once, “Oh, I don’t miss bread because my way of eating is a lifestyle choice, not a diet.”

I nodded in solidarity, and was like “Oh yeah, I totally know what you mean,” but on the inside I was thinking, “Sh**! She doesn’t miss bread?! What am I doing wrong?? Why is everything harder for me???”

There must be a secret mindset I’m missing out on, because I’m here to tell you that a lifestyle choice feels exactly like a diet for the first…well, it’s been two years for me now, so I’ll let you know when that feeling changes.

Not one to let it go, I sat down to brainstorm what exactly the difference is between a diet and a lifestyle. I thought of how a person on a diet might approach a certain topic, vs. someone “on” a lifestyle. I thought of the different situations that would cause someone to call it one or the other.

For your education and enjoyment, I created a handy chart to highlight what these imaginary people are saying:

Diet vs. Lifestyle change (4)




A lifestyle change has more of a permanence. I guess you could always “un-change” your lifestyle once you’ve changed it, but people who say they’ve made a lifestyle change are usually making a commitment to eat that way for life (hence, the name).

I view people on a diet as having more of a casual choice in the matter; whereas, people who overhaul their entire lifestyle usually have had some sort of wake-up call that has foreshadowed dire consequences (i.e. slow and painful death) if they don’t make a change.

All this brainstorming, and I still don’t know what to call mine. But in the end, it doesn’t matter what the heck you call it–as long as it’s working for your health and overall goals, you’re doing it right.

And whether diet or lifestyle choice, I concluded that the woman who didn’t miss bread had undergone bread aversion hypnosis, because I couldn’t fathom a scenario where a person would not miss bread.

…unless she’s never eaten it before, in which case, that lifestyle is called “remote island living.”


  • Diana Schultz

    July 27, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I enjoyed your creative list of “differences” Autumn! :}


    July 27, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    I have been doing the Diet Evolution “way of eating” for 5 years now. It is certainly a lifestyle for me as I consider it permanent. There may be some tweaking along the way to improve what I am doing. The feeling of true health over rides any lust for bread (once I gave bread up I was fortunate enough never to crave it). To me, “going on a diet” is a short term fix and open to giving up.

    1. lectinfreemama

      July 28, 2017 at 12:29 am

      I agree that feeling good absolutely overrides anything else! What I wouldn’t give to eat bread AND feel good, though… I suppose it probably gets easier as the years go on.

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