Diets

Nobody wants to die. Nobody wants to die early, either. We would all like to lead healthy, happy lives for as long as we’re able to, cancer and catastrophe willing.

We would also like to be pretty for as much of that as possible. And because beauty is in the eye of the one in front of the magazine or mirror, we diet. I use “we” in the proverbial sense. In fact, let me drop the “we” act entirely: I think diets are horrible jokes people seem to play on themselves and somehow simultaneously not get the punchline. The punchline being diets are meant to make people happy in the long run. And they make them miserable. While people are on them, and when they break them. Ha ha. Now go work out and eat protein powder. Dry.

I work with a ton of health nuts. One sixty-something, three fourty-somethings and a young lady thirty-something. Look, I know their ages, I’m just being nice. Point is, I order lunch for the office. My lunch usually consists of something good for me, like a fruit or veggie, then bread, meat and melted cheese. I try not to drink soda. Healthy, right? Shut up, you’re horribly wrong and clearly don’t live in Los Angeles. The food pyramid here is built on vitamins, seaweed chips and hating yourself.

The people I work with “can’t” (won’t) eat grains, ”can’t” (won’t) have dairy, “can’t” (won’t) eat any meat with four legs AND THEY FROWN ON ROMAINE LETTUCE. I thought Romaine was a step up from Iceberg, but apparently it’s just another gateway drug to eating the hamburger AND its greasy wrapper.

I can’t hate on people for trying to be healthy or for listening to people they believe are experts on nutrition. Note, I did not say, “Nutritionist,” because that’s crap. Nutritionists, if they gave sensible, moderate advice, would be fine. But the people who go to Nutritionists demand to be cured of their problems like it was a trip to the doctor, and so they demand extreme measure be taken. Nutrition surgery! Thus, I am surrounded by crazy people who eat things in little white tubs with the days of the week written on them from their food-witch-doctors and then they manage to moan about it.

I can’t hate on these people for trying to be happy. But… the moaning. Diets are meant to make people happy in the long run (as burgers make people happy in the short run.) Here’s the problem: no one makes it to the long run. Because one person in every, I don’t know, STATE actually make a full, life-long diet change that fixes the problem permanently, allowing them to be happy and whatever else they asked Dr. Notadoctor for. No, people complain about the diet all the way through, then they cheat, then they break the diet and now we (proverbial again, I mean “I”) have about two days of respite before we (I) get to hear about how they have to start working out and go to the gym again. Let’s just…not talk about gyms.

The most awful part about diets isn’t the cycle, because even that makes sense in an its-about-the-journey-and-it-was-worth-it-for-the-time-spent-learning-about-nutrition-and-my-self-control way. No, it’s the CAMARADERIE. It’s the way people band together, forming subcultures and communities over their diets, their odd, failed attempts at health that, like fashions, come and go (and can be horribly misguided.) People come together and compare their checklist of what worked and what didn’t. If a young woman comes into our office and brings up diets, our thirty-something practically runs over to compare diets. They have at least an hour of material to sort through. It’s best to just leave the room before you find yourself chiming in with “LEECHES! LOSE ALL THAT BLOOD WEIGHT!”

I don’t mean this to be a rant (though it very clearly is.) I just wish people would ask themselves what would actually make them happy. If what they want is people to like them and to get dates, there are ways to do that that aren’t eating stupid, horrible foods. Aren’t they focusing on the process and not the end goal? I wish they would set realistic, fun goals for themselves. I wish they could both accept things about who and what they are and strive to improve in a healthy non-flagellant way. I also wish I didn’t have to smell them eating kale.