The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts March 3, 2006

Good Eats - by Maya Silver

Divine Dieting
Divine Dieting is the new South Beach, maybe even the new black. In all of the major religions hanging around town these days, there are dietary restrictions and rules. Whether they apply to a single day or to forty, they are taken very seriously by the devout.

Last night, as I pored over religious texts, a hundred dollar idea came to me: What if I were to construct a book of diets containing the various dietary restrictions of world religions and multiplied them by 365? What if I liberated these assorted dietary restrictions from their limited calendric identities and allowed them to flourish every day of the week, every week of the month, every month of the year for the greater good of all humanity, secular or spectacular?

Even if you think Jesus or God or Allah or the greater powers that be are just so-so and not really your cup of tea, you can still profit from the prophets. Atheists and agnostics, read on.

One Divine Diet that is currently relevant is the Lent diet, based on the 40-day period before Easter that began last Wednesday. In keeping with Lent traditions, the dieter should eat only one normal-sized meal, plus two small meals totaling less than a normal-sized meal, per day. In addition, the Lent dieter should renounce one fatty food, such as Spam.

Asia — only a hop, skip and a jump away from the Western world — is host to a whole greenhouse of growing, potted religions. India, the old hometown of Hinduism, is one such religion rich in diet inspiration. Back in the olden days when Vedic Hinduism was still in vogue, followers made offerings to the gods.

The first step of the Vedic Sacrifice Diet is to construct a fire pit from logs n’ rocks. Twice a day, cover up your smoke detector and scorch all of the food in your room. Watch the pounds burn away!

Jainism, a curious little offshoot of Hinduism, teaches the doctrine of ahimsa, which means, “do no harm to any living being.” In the Jai-himsa diet, one cannot consume anything that has harmed another living being. No meats, no plants, no processed foods, no factory foods. I think the Jai-himsa dieter will find himsa-lf looking good in no time.

Bring out your inner Siddhartha and try out the Nirvana Non-attachment diet, inspired by the very fashionable Buddhism. If you want to achieve the Nirvana of reaching your ideal size, you need to realize the emptiness in all form and detach yourself from all elements of the world, including food.

The guiding principle of this diet is, “One shall eat only when one’s innards rumble for it; one shall desist when the rumbling is silenced.” In addition to this, all of the food you eat must be begged for, so you’ll need to invest in a guitar and tin cup.

Now take a step to the left and a shake to the right and you’ll find yourself in sunny Yemen, the Islamic center of the modern world. The Ram-I-Can Diet is all about believing in yourself. Under this diet, you can only eat between sunset and sunrise. So gorge yourself in the darkened corners of your kitchen on buttered knives and candied apples — but if it’s sunny, don’t put nothin’ in your tummy.*

Some of you may be thinking: Hey, what about Moses? Well, you might have noticed that “Judaic” rhymes with “Food? Say Ick!” In the Food? Say Ick! Diet, you should only consume Jujubes. While this diet may become a little trying for your choppers, it is sure to leave you feeling as fit as little Jonah inside that big, old, blubbery whale.

It is very likely that at this point, many of you are thinking about which Divine Diet you will adopt as your own. Good luck with your choice and remember that they are all condoned by gods.

*The Ram-I-Can Diet may lead to weight gain.


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