I originally had the idea to study food after a conversation with my mom. Having battled with obesity her entire life, she’s tried to find contentment with countless diets and get-rich-quick equivalents of weight loss—each with a different, well-branded and catchy name. Each time, it boosts her self-esteem when it works and then equally crushes her soul months later when pounds come back.
I started to see the cycle continue with friends and other family members—but each time with a New Look and Same Great Taste! If it has a logo and a washed-up celebrity endorsement, it must be the real deal.
America has a way of peer pressuring—no peers needed. Everyone chats about their “healthy lifestyle”, passing on the office birthday cake for water with lemon. Yet, somehow before you know it, you’re waking up alone at 5am on a Monday. Going for a jog, even though no one is there to prove that you did. You log your medium-sized apple for breakfast while you think about eggs. You spend the rest of the day nibbling on Special-K™ bars, just waiting to go back to sleep. A dream is the only place you don’t feel hungry. There’s a chance you’ll find a buffet there. You do this until Wednesday… and then you sleep in. The momentum is gone.
Of course, no one can know this about you. You have to pretend like you’ve kept it up—you love it. You feel great. You’ve never had so much energy. You love how the whey never fully dissolves in your shakes. You hope someone asks you how many glasses of water you’ve had to drink. You fake-laugh each time a coworker compares your Soylent™ to pancake batter. Every outfit is a neon tank from CrossFit™. Words like burpee and kettlebell enter your vocabulary. Avocados are your favorite fruit.
You’ve won. You weigh nothing. You’ve actually been dead this whole time.
Unfortunately, like we do with most nuances of our own culture, we forget that this isn’t normal everywhere. In December of 2017, I moved to Tokyo. A thing I love about Japan is how excited people are to eat their food instead of counting its calories. In a way, you can say I spent ten months on an island deprogramming the American parts of me that thought about food as just proteins and carbs.
So, moving back this year, my excitement over a menu written in English was quickly overshadowed by one cultural phenomenon: the Keto diet.
Having only been here for three days, I couldn’t find a nook or cranny without someone whispering about it. Then, rather unnecessarily, it really started to piss me off.
It infuriates me how many people—working in supposedly the most innovative and intelligent city in the United States—manage to convince themselves that a fad diet is actually going to be any different than any of the fad diets any of us have tried since the 1930s.
The second thing doctors and researchers have known “is that weight and health are not perfect synonyms.” So, if we’re all going to sign up for another diet destined to fail, just so we can look a way that inaccurately suggests we’re healthier, might we at least make it enjoyable?
The Cookie Diet sounds much more fun than the Grapefruit Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet. However, if you’re still looking for not one but every celebrity endorsement, what about the Hollywood Diet? (Except, it’s actually just another name for the Grapefruit Diet… and sometimes cocaine).
After hearing so much garbage about dieting while living on a planet where corporations choose to save money at literally everyone’s expense, I decided to do something about it.
In typical white millennial fashion, I wrote my feelings down.
But beyond that—with the help of my food-guru friend, Bekah and a focus group consisting of my parents and boyfriend—I’ve started this experiment in seasonal eating. It has no name, because this is not a diet.
It’s minimizing and focusing on food that is naturally available. It’s learning what our bodies need, when we need it, and which foods give it to us best.
I’ll be sharing my experience and recipes here.
Feel free to follow me on instagram to keep up with the journey. @SaltandGrit 👈🏼