Sean Coons on Diets Are Just Propaganda

Like many things born in the ’70s, the Information Age is not aging well. It started with so much promise in its youth—unlimited access to the collective knowledge of mankind and all that. But now it’s going through a midlife crisis, and instead of just divorcing its wife and buying a Porsche like everyone else, it has decided to reinvent itself as The Propaganda Age.

I think we all get the routine at this point: rhetorically gifted writers and speakers take a story—a political incident, a new ideology concocted by dysfunctional academics, a finding from some research study—shove it through their worldview meat grinder, and serve up the resulting opinion-packed sausage in bite-sized treats for people who are pre-primed to agree with them.

Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to diets.

According to Business Wire, the weight loss industry is $72 billion strong. You’ve got little chance against that. You are facing psychological expertise of unparalleled refinement. Partnering with entertainment media, the weight loss industry defines beauty for you and plants an unattainable archetype of bodily perfection deep in your mind. It shows you how you fall short and how being less beautiful makes life less fulfilling. And it provides you with myriad, always changing, always “research-based” solutions that will make you, well, not quite beautiful, but at least a few pounds lighter and a couple degrees closer to their ever-receding ideal.

If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the Beverly Hills Diet from the early 1980s, which popularized the magical thinking that by eating foods in certain combinations, your body will finally shed that stubborn belly fat. Most medical experts were skeptical of the Beverly Hills Diet, but that didn’t prevent omnipresent media coverage, which propelled the book promoting its principles to the New York Times bestseller list for 30 weeks. I mean, attractive celebrities were losing weight on this diet—the story had to be told!

Several fad diets later, and we had the carbophobic Atkins Diet dominating media in the early 2000’s (though it was based on a book first published in 1972), followed by its present-day lovechild, the Keto Diet. Keto began as a treatment for pediatric epilepsy (an honorable origin story to be sure) but has gained popularity in recent years for those seeking weight loss via bun-less bacon-cheeseburgers. The Paleo Diet takes its inspiration from The Flintstones, limiting foods to those available prior to modern farming, which basically leaves you with low-hanging fruit and freshly killed meat. The dieting flavor of the week for today’s chic influencers is intermittent fasting—the name kind of makes further explanation redundant, but it’s sort of like Paleo for hunter-gatherers with short arms and poor aim.

We had the South Beach Diet, the Rice Diet, low-fat diets, raw food diets, cleanse-based diets, and let’s not forget Diet Riot, which pairs eating meals with cathartic screaming . . . Alright, I made that last one up (though I wouldn’t be shocked if someone somewhere is trying it), but you get the idea: We will forever be served up new ways of approaching food, usually with the goal of forcing our bodies into new shapes.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Sean Coons