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parliamentary bodies in Japan, Poland, Hungary, Bohemia, the Scandinavian nations, and Germany have been called diets. In German history, the diet originated as a meeting of landholders and burghers, convoked by the ruler to discuss financial problems. The imperial diet or Reichstag of the Holy Roman EmpireHoly Roman Empire,
designation for the political entity that originated at the coronation as emperor (962) of the German king Otto I and endured until the renunciation (1806) of the imperial title by Francis II.
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 began as a loose assembly of ecclesiastic princes and imperial cities, meeting at irregular intervals. After 1489 three colleges representing electorselectors,
in the history of the Holy Roman Empire, the princes who had the right to elect the German kings or, more exactly, the kings of the Romans (Holy Roman emperors).
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, princes, and imperial cities arrived at decisions separately—even over war and peace—then combined them. The emperor could ratify the whole or parts. Among the most important diets were those of Worms (1495) and Cologne (1512); see Maximilian IMaximilian I,
1459–1519, Holy Roman emperor and German king (1493–1519), son and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. As emperor, he aspired to restore forceful imperial leadership and inaugurate much-needed administrative reforms in the increasingly
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, Holy Roman emperor. The most important diets of the ReformationReformation,
religious revolution that took place in Western Europe in the 16th cent. It arose from objections to doctrines and practices in the medieval church (see Roman Catholic Church) and ultimately led to the freedom of dissent (see Protestantism).
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 were WormsWorms, Diet of,
1521, most famous of the imperial diets held at Worms, Germany. It was opened in Jan., 1521, by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. After disposing of other business, notably the question of the Reichsregiment, the diet took up the question of the recalcitrant behavior
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 (1521), Speyer (1529), and Augsburg (1530, 1547, 1555). The diet declined in importance and after the peace of Westphalia (1648) it became an assembly of independent princes, meeting after 1663 at Regensburg as a conference of ambassadors without legislative power. For the federal diet of 1815–66, which succeeded the imperial diet, see German ConfederationGerman Confederation,
1815–66, union of German states provided for at the Congress of Vienna to replace the old Holy Roman Empire, which had been destroyed during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It comprised 39 states in all, 35 monarchies and 4 free cities.
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. The term was revived for the legislature of the German Empire in 1871, and was used until the end of World War II; see ReichstagReichstag
[Ger.,=imperial parliament], name for the diet of the Holy Roman Empire, for the lower chamber of the federal parliament of the North German Confederation, and for the lower chamber of the federal parliament of Germany from 1871 to 1945.
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The Japanese diet was established as the national legislature in 1889. Until 1947, the upper house (Peers) was appointive, the lower (Representatives) elected. Its powers were negative: no bill could become law without its approval, except in an emergency; the government could function with last year's budget if the current one was not approved; legislation was initiated by the executive. After 1947, the upper house was made elective (Councillors). Suffrage became universal, and the lower house gained precedence over the selection of the prime minister, budgets, and treaties; it can override the upper house on bills with a two-thirds majority. Most legislation is initiated by the cabinet. Since 1947 the Japanese diet, once peripheral, is central to Japan's politics; see JapanJapan
, Jap. Nihon or Nippon, country (2015 est. pop. 127,975,000), 145,833 sq mi (377,835 sq km), occupying an archipelago off the coast of E Asia. The capital is Tokyo, which, along with neighboring Yokohama, forms the world's most populous metropolitan region.
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, under Government and Politics.


food and drink regularly consumed for nourishment. Nutritionists generally recommend eating a wide variety of foods; however, some groups of people survive on a very limited diet. The traditional Eskimo diet, for example, depended heavily on meat, but Eskimos ate nearly all of the animal; organ meats are rich in vitamins and minerals. Vegetarians exclude meat (and sometimes by extension dairy products) from their diet, often for philosophical reasons. Others exclude only red meat, but eat poultry and dairy products. To maintain a healthy diet, vegetarians need to eat a wide variety of plants whose nutrients complement each other, providing a balance of amino acids and vitamins.

Cultural, Regional, and Practical Factors

Until the advent of refrigerationrefrigeration,
process for drawing heat from substances to lower their temperature, often for purposes of preservation. Refrigeration in its modern, portable form also depends on insulating materials that are thin yet effective.
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, the most important factor in a person's diet was availability; diets varied according to animal migrations and the growing seasons of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Another factor in food selection can be religion. Muslims, for example, are forbidden to drink alcohol.

Diets vary throughout the world. North Africa, with many Muslims, and the Middle East have similar diets. A starchy food (see starchstarch,
white, odorless, tasteless, carbohydrate powder. It plays a vital role in the biochemistry of both plants and animals and has important commercial uses. In green plants starch is produced by photosynthesis; it is one of the chief forms in which plants store food.
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), such as rice, boiled and pounded yam mush, or cassava, is often accompanied by a spicy stew of fish or chicken with vegetables. Other popular dishes include curries, kebabs (marinated meat threaded on a stick and roasted), couscous (steamed wheat semolina), falafel (a spiced fritter), and yogurt. Many Asian diets are based on rice, which is often served with bite-size vegetables and meats accompanied by spicy seasoning. In Europe, bread is often the main starch, but Italy is noted for pastapasta,
generic name for thin pieces of hardened, unleavened dough that are molded into various shapes and boiled, not baked. Pasta is commonly associated with Italian cuisine, though similar wheat flour and rice flour pastas, usually called noodles, have been known in Asia for a
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, a nutritious noodle made from wheat and usually topped with a sauce, such as a small serving of cooked tomatoes garnished with cheese. In Scandinavia, fish in general, and herring in particular, are main staples of the diet.

Food has always been subject to cross-cultural influences, often as a result of colonization and migration of people. Thus, French influences can be seen throughout Asia, particularly in Japan and Indochina; Dutch influences in Indonesia and South Africa; and Indian influences throughout the Commonwealth of Nations. Certain foods, such as dumplings, are found in slightly different forms in all cultures. North American cuisine is an amalgam of Native American foods, such as corn-on-the-cob, and immigrant cuisines, including that of Africans.

Diet in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries

In the 20th cent. diets were transformed by refrigeration, improved and faster transportation, advances in food preservationfood preservation,
methods of preparing food so that it can be stored for future use. Because most foods remain edible for only a brief period of time, people since the earliest ages have experimented with methods for successful food preservation.
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, and new farming methods that prolong the growing season and increase the yield per acre. As a result, foods are available more regularly, items purchased in one season can be frozen and consumed in another, and prices have become more competitive. After World War II, increased advertising, particularly on television, and the growing number of households in which all adults are employed, contributed to an increased consumption of unhealthy fast foods. Efforts in the 1980s and 90s by health experts to educate the public about the importance of a healthy diet has had some impact. People are eating more fruits, grains, and vegetables, and less red meat, and are aware of the need to control their weight. The latter has given rise to many ineffective, and sometimes dangerous, fad diets that do not provide all of the necessary daily nutrients. Successful weight control requires a carefully planned regimen of exercise combined with a diet based on the nutritionnutrition,
study of the materials that nourish an organism and of the manner in which the separate components are used for maintenance, repair, growth, and reproduction. Nutrition is achieved in various ways by different forms of life.
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 information supplied by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid (see food pyramidfood pyramid
or Food Guide Pyramid,
diagram used in nutrition education that fits food groups into a triangle and notes that, for a healthful diet, those at the base should be eaten more frequently than those at the top.
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See D. and P. Von Welanetz, The Von Welanetz Guide to Ethnic Ingredients (1982); J. Newman, Melting Pot: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Food and Nutrition Information for Ethnic Groups in America (1986); S. Quandt and C. Ritenbaugh, Training Manual in Nutritional Anthropology (1986); B. Griggs, The Food Factor: An Account of the Nutrition Revolution (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a specially planned nutritional regimen with respect to quantity, chemical composition, physical properties, culinary processing, and intervals of food ingestion. The nutritional regimen of a healthy individual that meets the requirements of his occupation, sex, age, and so forth (a rational diet) is the subject of study of nutritional hygiene. Dietetics, the science of therapeutic nutrition, is concerned with the development and prescription of diets for sick individuals. The planning of a diet takes into account the functional, pathomorphological, metabolic, enzymic, and other disturbances in the human organism. A properly selected diet creates the most favorable background for the use of various treatments, reinforces the effects of these treatments, or exerts a therapeutic effect. The prophylactic significance of diet is that it deters acute diseases from becoming chronic ones.


Pokrovskii, A. A. Besedy o pitanii. Moscow, 1968.
Diet for animals is the feeding regimen for a sick animal. Prescription of a diet takes into account the diagnosis and course of the disease, the state of the sick animal, and its age, sex, breed, and productivity. The feed rations of a sick animal must include high-quality, easily digestible feeds with a complete complement of the necessary nutrients. When there is a vitamin deficiency in the rations of herbivorous animals, they are given hay and meal of leguminous grasses, mixed silage, sprouted grain, infusion of coniferous needles, and nutritional yeasts. Carnivorous animals in the same situation are given milk, fresh meat, fish, liver, and eggs. When there is a deficiency or an incorrect proportion of macroelements and microelements, appropriate mineral supplements manufactured in the form of salt pellets or mixed feeds are introduced. Sometimes certain feeds are limited in the rations or are subjected to special processing (pulverization, steaming, fermentation).


Dmitrochenko, A. P., and P. D. Pshenichnyi. Kormlenie se’skokhoziaistvennykh zhivotnykh. Leningrad, 1964.
Vnutrennie nezaraznye bolezni sel’skokhoziaistvennykh zhivotnykh, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1964.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The food or drink regularly consumed.
Food prescribed, regulated, or restricted as to kind and amount, for therapeutic or other purpose.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a. a specific allowance or selection of food, esp prescribed to control weight or in disorders in which certain foods are contraindicated
b. (as modifier): a diet bread


1. Politics a legislative assembly in various countries, such as Japan
2. History the assembly of the estates of the Holy Roman Empire
3. Scots law
a. the date fixed by a court for hearing a case
b. a single session of a court
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
16% of the fasting and 28% of the weight reduction diet patients experienced a continued improvement in quality of life after discharge from hospital.
[19] about half of the patients (approximately 59% of fasting patients and almost 50% of weight reduction diet patients) in this study, who could stabilize permanently a weight reduction of at least 2.25 kg, also specified a lasting improvement in the quality of life with regard to body weight.
While in the present study fasting and weight reduction diet patients considered their weight-related quality of life during the inpatient treatment equally, at the time of the telephone interview the weight reduction diet patients were significantly less affected (P = 0.033).
Fasting patients benefited less than weight reduction diet patients in terms of long-term weight loss as well as in terms of weight-related quality of life.
Fasting therapy followed by long-term supervised weight reduction diet and fasting therapy for the prevention of obesity remains to be evaluated in the future.
But this study showed not only differences between fasting and weight reduction diet with respect to the proportions of patients who switched their diet, but also detailed changes in nutrition (Figure 5).