hiiiii! i just found this article and i’m so glad. i have a thing with diets, the moment you start talking about how this or that diet is so interesting, i cringe, want to shout and/or leave the room*. right, it’s an emotional reaction more than an intellectual one, and because of that, i soon find myself apologizing, explaining that i have my own, personal, fucked up relationship to food, and this is why i overreact, don’t take my position too seriously.
well, sorry, but yes, actually, please do. if you give me a chance, and there is no diet worshipper around, i will have tons of things to say about diets. and this article both brings a critical view on the gluten-free trend and articulates links between modern « scientific » diets and religion, which is something i didn’t even hope for. must read.
*well, if i want to be honest, what would be even more satisfying would be to throw a huge, burning, disgustingly fat, 4-cheese gluten-full pizza on your face, but i’m well behaved, right? so i’ll leave the room
Diet fads are destroying us: Paleo, gluten-free and the lies we tell ourselves
The author of « The Gluten Lie » on our fruitless search for clean living, and why we’re so quick to scoff at science
Reached by Skype, Levinovitz spoke with The Cubit about paleo dieters, grain-free monks, and why Fitbit represents a cultural descent into profound moral vacuity.
You’re a scholar of classical Chinese religions. How’d you end up writing about gluten?
Over two thousand years ago, there were these proto-Taoist monks in China who advocated strongly for a grain-free diet. [They claimed that] you could live forever. You could avoid disease. You could fly and teleport. Your skin would clear up.
I saw this countercultural rejection of grains, and then I saw almost the exact same thing, with the same kinds of hyperbolic claims, happening again with books like Grain Brain and Wheat Belly. And I thought to myself, you know, it’s funny, people are trying to debunk these fad diets with scientific evidence, but what they’re not realizing is that really these beliefs aren’t scientific at all. They’re wrapped in scientific rhetoric, but ultimately they’re quasi-religious beliefs that are based on superstition and myth.
Food rituals, food taboos, dietary demons, dietary myths, magic diets, guilt, sin: why do we apply so much religious language to food?
Virtually ever religious tradition has had food taboos and sacred diets. I think part of the reason is that food is something that we have direct control over. It crosses the boundary in a very personal way: we take something outside of our body and put it into our body. Eating is very personal, and it’s easy to invest those kinds of things with religious and ritual significance.