The Morals of Dieting, or: The First Rant of the Year

5 Jan

It’s still the first week of January, when New Year’s resolutions are shiny and unbroken, especially the ones about eating right and exercising. Slate is running a blog, “Clean Plate,” about one writer’s exploration of healthy eating. The first entry laid bare the author’s currently, let’s say, unbalanced diet, and both the entry and the comments got me to thinking about how we (that is, people who are lucky enough to have the luxury of thinking about dietary choices, rather than potential starvation) tend to see eating in a moral light. I know I’m far from the first person to remark on this, but it’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. It seems frivolous to equate eating a salad with saving a puppy, or having a slice of cheesecake with kicking one. (A puppy, not cheesecake.) You’re not hurting anyone but yourself, in an immediate sense, if you get those fries, and even that’s questionable.

So why do we persist in thinking about food, and eating, this way? The blog entry above confirms my theory that it’s still one of the few acceptable ways to rebel against responsibility, adulthood, etc. I mean, your grandma is DJing at the clubs, your parents regale you with bad-acid-trip stories, and teen moms are on the cover of Us Weekly. But post on Facebook (which your parents are on, of course) that dinner was a pack of Cheetos with a White Castle chaser, and people will be shocked, shocked! Or they’ll try to one-up you with a Pop-Tart sandwich dinner.

I’ll be honest, I’ve resolved to tighten up the old eating habits this year, since Malaysia’s generous food culture has resulted in, let’s say, generous body proportions. But I’m still looking forward to a year of food adventures.

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