I recently attended a fashion dinner where I was seated across from the wife of a TV celebrity who’s now a healthy cookbook author. That’s less a blind item than a nearsighted item, but I can report that Cookbook Lady utterly ignored me until our meals arrived. I was the only person at our table to opt for steak over kale, and I also ordered a side of fries. Suddenly, every eye on the table was on me.
“You know what I like to do,” Cookbook Lady pronounced slowly, apropos of nothing. “My children and I like to take carrots, and radishes, and other yummy veggies, and we fry them up and we eat them just like French fries!”
I nodded at this weird judgment-disguised-as-personal-anecdote. Simply nodded, because my mouth was full. A couple of hands reached for my fry plate, until everyone at the table had availed themselves of my side dish. So much for the holier-than-thou attitude.
This isn't exactly new to me. I spent my early days in the magazine industry listening to W staffers compare Blueprint cleanses. “You’re just doing the Renovation one? I’m doing Excavations,” was something I heard around the office. Are those the actual names of the cleanses? Yuck, I remember thinking. Raw, gluten-free, paleo, macrobiotic, swilling coconut oil — I’ve heard about every diet, and listened to every unscientific justification for said practices, from “My body can’t digest cooked food” to “Cavemen were really skinny, I think.”
Once, I sat at a dinner with a woman who raved to me about infrared saunas and something called “food combining,” which I assumed meant blending food into those trendy, Insta-friendly bowls, but actually meant isolating food groups throughout the day, something every piece of nutritional advice I’ve ever read cautions against doing. The infrared rays, she said, were great because they “get all the oxygen out of your body.” Sometimes, she added, “You have something that looks like fat, but it’s actually oxygen, so you just need to purge it.” I may have only a rudimentary understanding of science, but I know that when you no longer have any oxygen in your body, you are definitely dead. You might be skinny, though.
I don’t think people should be ashamed of dieting — I just tire of the fact that, in the industry I work in, people discuss the state of their digestive systems like it’s the weather. There are more interesting things to talk about, like — well, almost anything. And I don’t appreciate the fact that, simply because I happen to order red meat once in a while, I get treated like a member of some anti-diet vanguard who needs to be converted to Team Swishing Cider Vinegar Through Their System. Even if you think eating a fry is a form of passive suicide, I beg you — let me commit it in peace.