To eatornot to eat...

To eatornot to eat...


To eatornot to eat...

We are a nation obsessed with Size Zero. If in the earlier days prosperity was weighed by girth, these days it is measured by wispiness. So, from the many,many diets out there, which one is yours, asks SHINIEANTONY.

Once upon a time, India thought fat was hot. Thunder thighs, love handles, double chins, muffin top... they called you voluptuous and made paintings of you. Quite when the oomph went out of XXL, we don’t know, but suddenly the Age of Size Zero was upon us. Thin was in.

Of course, some valiantly fought back. Said they would eat whatever they want and never ever diet. Only to eat their words and stop eating food. They were then spotted going for surreptitious night walks around the block before they bought branded track-pants and began to run marathons. If in the earlier days prosperity was weighed by girth, which proclaimed to the world what a happy harvest you’ve had, these days prosperity is measured by wispiness, which proclaims to the world how many gyms you frequent. Saying no to food hints at strength and willpower. Comfort eating is for the emotionally weak and physically rotund. Eat like a bird, not like a horse. Gluttony is now punishable by major eye-rolls all around.

American comedian Louis C K speaks for all of us when he says, ‘I don’t stop eating when I’m full. The meal isn’t over when I’m full. It’s over when I hate myself.’ Eating has become the new dirty secret.

You lie, ‘My jeans don’t fit me anymore, they shrank in the wash’. Or you pseudo-scientifically explain how being short has rendered you horizontally imbalanced. ‘I only need to lose this paunch, that’s all,’ you say desperately. But all you hear is dead silence; the elephant in the room is you.

Those women on magazine covers, who live on mineral water, give us a complex. They are all bones, whereas we seem to melt on to any upholstery we sit on, resembling sofas or the backseat of a car, as the occasion demands. It doesn’t help that while most of us wallow in post-partum obesity, celeb yummy mommies look like prepubescent teens immediately after giving birth. There they are in a white G-string bikini holding their two-day old baby, while the rest of us new mothers are blobs in bed-sheets.

You wear only black. You buy up a storm in really uncomfortable control underwear; there’s a corset and a girdle and tight, tight stockings, all taped up by Velcro, preventing you from laughing, or even exhaling. Spanx is your new nightwear. You stand next to people fatter than you in photos, wear clothes with vertical stripes, and paint abs on your tummy to give you a six-pack look. But the wobbly bobbly bits of you still wobble and bobble.

You miss a meal. Any saintly feelings are quickly overcome by hunger pangs. You start to fantasise about food. Every time you shut your eyes, a large chocolate cake winks seductively at you. Eat me, it says. And you just have to jump up, raid the refrigerator and eat whatever stale chocolatey stuff you can find. Food porn is all the porn you surf.
Hostesses fret over what to serve for dinner as most guests don’t eat this and don’t eat that. Dessert no longer elicits applause; instead, diners moan in pain at the very mention of it. Gone is our tradition of heaping food on to guests’ plates despite them shaking their hands and heads. Just a little bit more, we used to say. But no more. Now we say this is steamed and that is baked, as we serve teeny-weeny microscopic portions that look good in selfies. It is raining olive oil.

Dinner itself seems to be disappearing from the horizon, with people claiming they eat their last meal of the day way before sunset or while standing upside down during yoga. Actor-director Orson Welles once said: ‘My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.’ Now multiple diners peck at one plate.
In prehistoric times, beverages came pre-sweetened. Today people ask for tea and coffee without sugar, and if you ask, ‘Are you diabetic?’ they are baffled. We’d just began to celebrate the free coffee machine in our offices when caffeine went out of fashion — ushering in herbal concoctions. Along with shakes and smoothies that mix up the most impossible of things, like carrots and green grass, spinach and dates, all the suspicious-looking leftovers in your fridge. If pricked, we ooze green tea.

You are no longer what you eat. You are what you do not eat. If you are a human being on Planet Earth, then you must be on some kind of a diet. And, at the slightest provocation, you are willing to share it with all and sundry. ‘I have food without oil, without sugar, without salt, without white flour...’

So, from the many, many diets out there, which one is yours?

There is the Beverly Hills diet, the Mediterranean diet, the South Beach diet and the Shangri La diet — no visa required, just sit at home and watch every morsel.

Diets to die for?

Take your pick from the nutrisystem diet, volumetrics diet, weight watcher’s diet, micro diet, macrobiotic diet, master cleanse diet, detox diet. Or, you might like the Atkins or the GM ones, for the corporate ring to their names. A vegan diet, a vegetarian diet, a grapefruit diet, an only-fruit diet, a cabbage soup diet, a liquid diet, a raw food diet and a red meat diet are all self-descriptive. The Jenny Craig diet, the French Women Who Don’t Get Fat diet and the Skinny Bitch Diet are ladies only. The three-hour diet and the alternate day fasting diet need you to own a clock and calendar while the Glycemic Index diet, Blood Type diet and the Hormone diet get kind of personal.

Most diets recommend drinking buckets of water a day. You can begin the day with warm water mixed with lime juice and honey, or sip barley water through the day. Water boiled with cumin seeds is another favourite, along with coconut water and kokum juice. They’re either anti-cholesterol or anti-bloat and anti-acidity. Say ‘no’ to soda.

When accosted by food, we are told to sniff, nibble, rearrange, but no eating, no eating. Those nutty about nutrition are seen snacking on nuts, seeds and dry fruits. They wax eloquent about flax seeds. Diet pills and laxatives, advertised freely on TV and the internet, are another magical elixir for those seeking weight loss, and any damage of vital organ is overlooked for the sheer shrinkage in bodily terms. Bariatric operation and metabolic surgery are also available to the truly desperate. And, if you want to have your junk food and eat it too, there’s always bulimia.

More women cheat on their diets than on their partners — though the moral castigation for both is roughly the same. Like the legendary skinny Minnie Frenchwomen, cigarettes are one way to go, and wine another. Salad without salad dressing is recommended. The path to paradise is paved with lettuce leaves.

Diet humour is thin on the ground, because the first thing one loses when one can’t eat everything one wants to is one’s ha-ha. Dieters are slim and trim and since they are mainly in the gym, grim. Their life, dedicated as it is to counting every calorie, is not just without treats, it is also without fun. Establishing moral superiority over fatsoes takes a lot out of them. And though a sedentary life can kill, everyone knows someone who died while exercising.

For the rest of us, a treadmill or an exercise bike is a decorative piece at home, to be looked at and feel delicious shame. A gym membership is a guilt trip; each month, as we pay the fee without once going there, we feel we have done our bit. We know all the diets there are, and we have the dumbbells, if not the biceps. We may not walk the walk, but we can talk the talk.

We are a fructose-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free generation, happy in our no-carb, decaf world. The Independence War we are now fighting is from carbohydrates. And we are frankly racist when it comes to sugar, rice and bread — wanting only brown, not white. Though there are murmurs of black rice turning brown rice passé soon.
We do burn a lot of calories with all the envy and jealousy we feel looking at the lean lot. About the naturally thin, don’t even ask — we’d starve them, if they weren’t doing it themselves.