Nutrition versus diet – why is it important to know the difference?

In a world where the emphasis is on physical appearance and quick weight loss solutions, the terms ‘nutrition’ and ‘diet’ are often used interchangeably. However, there is a crucial difference between these concepts, and understanding this distinction can make the difference between having a healthy relationship with your food and falling prey to unhealthy myths or tendencies.

In this article, we’ll explore in depth what the differences between diet and nutrition are, discovering why it’s so vital to know and apply these differences in your everyday life.

What do we mean by ‘diet’?

Fat-free diets, carbohydrate-free diets, vegetarian diets or paleo diets… We are all familiar with at least some types of diet, either from the media or through our own lifestyle choices. But what does it mean to diet?

In general, diet refers to the type of food we eat, and is generally associated with dietary restrictions. Depending on which diet you follow, you may have to give up some types of foods that are considered ‘bad’, often to the detriment of your own health. One example is fat-free diets or carbohydrate-free diets – such diets are not sustainable over the long term because our bodies need both nutrients to survive.

Many people seek to follow diets to lose weight, often in as short a time as possible. This is why many diets impose calorie restrictions, sometimes taken to extremes. Especially in the media, much more emphasis is placed on maintaining a diet to improve your physical appearance, and less on the health of your own body.

Healthy nutrition focuses on what's in your food, rather than how much of it you eat.

What is healthy nutrition?

If the term “diet” generally refers to what foods we eat and what should be restricted, the term “nutrition” is used when we talk about what nutrients we take into our bodies through food.

Depending on what you eat, you will get different amounts of the 3 essential macronutrients:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats

In general, your body needs all 3 macronutrients to survive. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises us to keep the amount of macronutrients we eat per day between the following values:

  • Protein – 10-35% of daily calories
  • Fat – 20-35% of daily calories
  • Carbohydrates – 45-65% of daily calories

The ideal amount of macronutrients will differ from person to person, depending on many factors such as age or lifestyle.

Macronutrients aren’t the only thing to watch out for. Balanced nutrition should also provide you with the ideal amount of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals), which are just as important for your body.

And yet there are good diets

Due to restrictive and sometimes even dangerous diets for our health, the term “diet” has taken on negative connotations among the masses.

However, there are also health-promoting eating plans called ‘diets’. The Mediterranean diet is the ideal example.

Although it’s called a ‘diet’, the Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle, based on simple to follow, non-restrictive principles that can be adapted to suit your needs. It combines foods and habits specific to the Mediterranean region with balanced nutrition that provides you with all the essential macronutrients and micronutrients to live a carefree life.

Our complete guide teaches you everything you need to know about this diet, but the basic principles are as follows:

  • eat lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, spices and herbs, fish, extra virgin olive oil
  • eat chicken, eggs, cheese, yogurt, red wine in moderation
  • limit or avoid red meat, foods high in saturated fat or added sugar, alcohol, salt
  • Combine a balanced diet with regular exercise and other healthy habits

Cultivate healthy eating habits with Dahna!

Nowadays, diets are associated with strict weight loss regimes, without much emphasis on proper and complete nutrition or food quality. Here at Dahna, we believe in reinventing the term “diet”, and want to promote healthy eating habits for your body and heart over unhealthy weight loss cures.

With our health app, we bring you hundreds of healthy and affordable daily menus based on the Mediterranean diet just a click away. For each menu, you can read more details about the calorie and nutrient content to understand exactly what you’re eating, not just how much you’re eating.

Download the app too, and reinvent your relationship with food and your heart!

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