Yes, I’m on a diet.

(revisiting this post from my old blog in 2011 as it conceptually remains true in 2022)

Her sky-high pointy shoes caught my attention.

“How can you walk in those?” I wordlessly wondered while watching her stride towards the front exit of the bus as we neared the next stop.

She rocked with the uneven sinuous undulation of the pavement, clutching a tote in one hand and typing on her mobile device on the other.

Her fashionable clothes, shimmery makeup, and ornate nail art did nothing to conceal sunken eyes, dehydrated skin, and a gaunt physique. She was reminiscent of another woman I once talked with at the gym. This lady inquired about my routine, to which I carefully replied with a simplistic breakdown – a mix of swimming, spinning, strength training, and yoga to supplement my running. After complimenting my physique, she asks, “You’re always on a diet, aren’t you?”

I thought hard about how to answer that question. What did she mean? Aren’t ALL people on a diet?

It’s a sad reality, I’m afraid. The concept of a diet is so misconstrued that it’s now synonymous with not eating.

Praying Skeleton

Making matters more shameful is how scrawny, rawboned figures are glorified over almost every known form of visual media – even here in Taiwan. This skewed body image paradigm dramatically bothers me, as it negatively impacts women. As the pressure of looking socially acceptable amasses, many turn to quick fixes – “miracle” drinks, slimming pills, willful starvation, and worse, wiggly fingers down the throat. Don’t they know that advertising, television, and magazine companies have an array of technological tricks at their disposal to mask imperfections, enabling them to sell myths?

A prime example of how influential media could be is the influx of magic potions strategically sold as good-for-digestion teas. Piqued by curiosity as to why many people come out of 7-11 carrying them, I purchased one trendy bottle. Its taste has pushed my resolve never to drink it again. Through some research and deciphering the product label, I later learned that it pegs its marketing on the claim that it contains catechins and inulin. Catechins (1,2) are flavonoids found in raw apples, apricots, nectarines, pears and plums with skin, blackberries, red raspberries, cranberries, cherries, broad beans, and even chocolate. Inulin(3,4), on the other hand, naturally occurs in onions, garlic, chicory root, asparagus, and leeks. Why then will I sacrifice my taste buds and appetitive gusto if I can get the same nutrients by eating whole tasty foods?

It’s boggling that many people spend a tremendous amount of time fretting over how they look or how others perceive them but don’t stop considering what one’s body requires for nourishment. Food is the body’s fuel. Simply cutting out on food is a surefire way to gradual physical degradation – a blatant refusal to respect your body and its needs altogether. No amount of fancy, processed edible substances can compensate for the nutrients already available to us through proper, well-balanced, and reasonable meals.

I feel the slim lady on the bus and the curious woman at the gym don’t quite see the big picture. The former fails to understand that health emanates from within; the latter fails to recognize that health is not superficial. We need to cultivate the idea, especially among those prone to being misguided, that well-being is a holistic venture involving mind, body, and spirit. If you’re not happy with who you are, what makes you think you’ll be delighted when you’ve achieved your weight goal? Will the praise you unwittingly aspire to get just because you are a size 0 fill the void of self-esteem? If one feels uncomfortable about their weight and endeavors to lose some of it, there are safer ways to do this. These methods involve educated choices, expert consultation, and a consistently active lifestyle.

Am I on a diet? Yes. I’m on a diet based on fruits, vegetables, lean meats and seafood, healthy oils, and whole grains, rounded off by athletic activity for my body; books, intelligent conversations, creative pursuits, and diverse experiences for my mind and spirit. How about you? What diet are you on?

Online Sources:





Side Note: Credit for the idea of the picture goes to a caricature on, which I saw some time ago.

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