Life perspective

The New Religion Called Diet

Tele-evangelism like marketing leads the way with promises of a newfound you. These are backed up by powerful testimonies and anecdotal science (before and after photos). There’s also a strong altar call afterwards (buy these products, be they books or supplements) to all those wishing to change and converts go out into the world heralding enthusiastically the benefits of this new diet. New testimonies are born and shared around the dinner table and litter social media by the growing score of followers (yes, another loaded term). Books are written. Websites are dedicated. Courses are started. Markets boom. Industries grow. Even governments get involved and issue regulations. Naturally, not all of these assemblies are the same and they all use slightly different marketing methods to appeal to their flock, but the underlying hooks are the same. People haven’t changed in years.

How do you know if someone is following a new diet? They tell you. All the time. They will also be able to explain how the diet works and why it works in detail. And often the goal is aesthetics. Some will throw performance-related benefits into the mix but the benefits are still firmly entrenched in aesthetics. And, like all good religions, the core of that belief will get manipulated and ultimately misrepresented into bastard forms (either willfully or out of ignorance) that claim allegiance to the original but in reality have strayed so far down the garden path that anyone with small amount of patience can easily spot the hole. Of course, a lot see what they want to see. None so blind. But with the growing number of apologists (defenders of The Diet) it’s hard to sit outside in the cold wondering if you got it all wrong.

Followers of The Diet, be the goal aesthetic or performance, have one god in common: their own body. The promise of eternal youth, quality of living and longevity is such a strong pull that despite our self-proclaimed noble, scientific, rational or liberal outlooks, we fall for the silly so easily. We serve our body. We worship our body keeping it holy (which literally means set apart, or specially recognized) with an extensive list of thou-shall-not-eats (and or dos). Some more disciplined than others, there are still measures in place for those that slip up. Penance is usually paid by doing some extra “cardio” and followers rally to the help of their backsliding brother or sister with encouraging picture memes on their timeline to remind them of their purpose.

Detractors of The Diet are met with contempt if all attempts at proselytizing have failed. Ostracized or ignored, the scorned heathen will be left to their own nutritional habits. These detractors similarly start to develop a strong annoyance with anything related to The Diet on account of being endlessly battered by bullshit: current blog post as reference. Some detractors with a little more energy will engage in direct warfare thus creating the much needed tension which will help to keep The Diet alive. Because after the initial honeymoon is over, and all the longitudinal studies have been concluded, the lack of common sense will need a distraction.

But, at the end of the day, we all free to follow and serve and believe what we want. Ultimately, death will judge (if you even believe that). There are no medals in this lifetime that serve us in the grave and some will get there sooner than others (regardless of diet, lifestyle or otherwise). And in following, serving and believing, we are all free to enthusiastically share what we have on our hearts with others- it’s part of what makes us beautiful (and annoying). And in that beautiful journey we try cultivate a sophisticated sense of tolerance towards others with a different viewpoint- some more successfully than others. So if following The Diet works for you, that’s great and all, but maybe wearing a specially-recognized hat indicating you want to expound the mysteries of your diet on strangers is a good idea. That way, like the krishnas, Mormons and JWs, we know when we need to avoid eye contact and save everyone a world of awkwardness thus carefully preserving that politely veiled sense of tolerance we call world peace.