Diet (nutrition)

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A selection of plant-sourced food consumed by humans. The human diet can vary widely.

In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism.[1] The word diet often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management reasons (with the two often being related). Although humans are omnivores, each culture and each person holds some food preferences or some food taboos. This may be due to personal tastes or ethical reasons. Individual dietary choices may be more or less healthy.

Complete nutrition requires ingestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids from protein and essential fatty acids from fat-containing food, also food energy in the form of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Dietary habits and choices play a significant role in the quality of life, health and longevity.


A healthy diet may improve or maintain optimal health. In developed countries, affluence enables unconstrained caloric intake and possibly inappropriate food choices.[2]

Health agencies recommend that people maintain a normal weight by limiting consumption of energy-dense foods and sugary drinks, eating plant-based food, limiting consumption of red and processed meat, and limiting alcohol intake.[3]

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is an evidence-based information source that policy makers and health professionals use to advise the general public about healthy nutrition.

Dietary choices[edit]

Many people choose to forgo food from animal sources to varying degrees (e.g. flexitarianism, pescetarianism, vegetarianism, veganism) for health reasons, issues surrounding morality, or to reduce their personal impact on the environment, although some of the public assumptions about which diets have lower impacts are known to be incorrect.[4] Raw foodism is another contemporary trend. These diets may require multivitamin supplements to meet ordinary nutritional needs.

Weight management[edit]

A particular diet may be chosen to seek weight loss or weight gain. Changing a subject's dietary intake, or "going on a diet", can change the energy balance and increase or decrease the amount of fat stored by the body. Some foods are specifically recommended, or even altered, for conformity to the requirements of a particular diet. These diets are often recommended in conjunction with exercise. Specific weight loss programs can be harmful to health, while others may be beneficial and can thus be coined as healthy diets. The terms "healthy diet" and "diet for weight management" are often related, as the two promote healthy weight management. Having a healthy diet is a way to prevent health problems, and will provide the body with the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.[5]

Eating disorders[edit]

An eating disorder is a mental disorder that interferes with normal food consumption. It is defined by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive diet.

Religious and cultural dietary choices[edit]

Some cultures and religions have restrictions concerning what foods are acceptable in their diet. For example, only Kosher foods are permitted by Judaism, and Halal foods by Islam. Although Buddhists are generally vegetarians, the practice varies and meat-eating may be permitted depending on the sects.[6] In Hinduism, vegetarianism is the ideal. Jains are strictly vegetarian and consumption of roots is not permitted.

Diet classification table[edit]

Food type Omnivorous Carnivorous Pescetarian Semi-vegetarian Vegetarian Vegan Fruitarian Paleo Ketogenic Jewish Islamic Hindu Breatharian
Alcoholic drinks Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Maybe No Maybe No
Fruits Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Berries Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe Yes Yes Yes No
Vegetables Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No[a] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Greens Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Legumes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe No No Yes Yes Yes No
Nuts Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe Yes Maybe Yes Yes Yes No
Tubers Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Maybe[b] No Yes Yes Yes No
Grains Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe No No Yes Yes Yes No
Honey Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Dairy Yes No Maybe[c] Maybe Maybe[d] No No No Maybe Yes[e] Yes Yes No
Eggs Yes Yes Maybe[c] Maybe Maybe[f] No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe No
Insects Yes Yes No Sometimes No No No Yes Yes No[g] No[g] Maybe No
Crustaceans & mollusks Yes Yes Yes Sometimes No No No Yes Yes No Maybe[h] Maybe No
Fish Yes Yes Yes Sometimes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe No
Poultry Yes Yes No Sometimes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe No
Mutton Yes Yes No Sometimes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe No
Venison Yes Yes No Sometimes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe No
Pork Yes Yes No Sometimes No No No Yes Yes No No Maybe No
Beef Yes Yes No Sometimes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No


  1. ^ Some plants traditionally considered to be vegetables—such as tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, and zucchinis—are permitted.
  2. ^ Typically, potatoes are not permitted but cassava, yams, and sweet potatoes are.
  3. ^ a b Almost all permit either egg or dairy consumption, with most allowing both. Stricter rules, like seagans, also reject eggs and dairy along with their rejection of poultry and red meat.
  4. ^ Lacto vegetarians, ovo-lacto vegetarians, and Jain Vegetarians permit dairy.
  5. ^ Dairy is permitted but is not to be cooked or consumed with any meats or fish
  6. ^ Both ovo vegetarians and ovo-lacto vegetarians permit eggs.
  7. ^ a b Locusts are sometimes permitted, depending on the religious denomination.
  8. ^ Mollusks and crustaceans like crab are prohibited according to the Shi'a branch of Islam. The acceptability of shrimp/prawn is debated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ noun, def 1 –
  2. ^ "Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries" article by Kim Severson in The New York Times September 24, 2010, accessed September 25, 2010
  3. ^ "Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention Food, Nutrition, and Physical Activity" (PDF). World Cancer Research Fund & American Institute for Cancer Research. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-11. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  4. ^ The embodied energy of food: the role of diet DA Coley, E Goodliffe, J Macdiarmid Energy Policy 26 (6), 455-460
  5. ^ "Healthy Eating: How do you get started on healthy eating?". 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
  6. ^ Keown, Damien (26 August 2004). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford University Press. p. 77. ISBN 9780191579172.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of diet at Wiktionary