Diet Musings #1: Why in the World Am I on a Diet?

20 Jun

Note: I love food and food loves me. Sometimes it loves me too much. I’m blogging to channel my energy away from obsessing over what I shouldn’t be eating.

I’m on a diet. I’ve never said those words in public. I’ve given up sweets for Lent before. Been vegan for a month. Didn’t eat refined sugar for 3 weeks. Or my porkatarian phase where I didn’t eat any meat but made exceptions for pork. But this is the first time I’ve been on a full-fledged, publicly-announced diet.

In the Bay Area, I would’ve been too embarrassed to say I’m on a diet. Because we all know that restricting food intake or being thin is not what makes people healthy. We know that organic, homemade, home grown food does. We know that a positive body image does. We know that it’s no crime to love yourself at whatever size, especially while over-processed, factory farmed, chemically and biogenetically altered food kills us, indigenous culture, workers, and our planet. We also know that if all the dieting, body-conscious people out there took merely half the energy and money they spend worrying about their weight and put it toward pursuing their passions or fighting for justice, the happiness we’d experience would be way more satisfying than the temporary joy over (temporarily) losing 5 pounds.

So, why am I on a diet? Because I don’t want to be fat when I go to the beach this summer.

That answer is true and not true.

True, I plan to get in many beach days. True, I mostly own string bikinis (it’s an OC thing). True, I don’t like feeling embarrassed about how I look. True, I think I look a little better when I’ve lost a few pounds.

But we know that how I feel about how I look has very little to do with my actual physical body. So, why am I on a diet?

Because I have started eating mindlessly. We frequently host catered meetings in my office. It’s like being fed at a never-ending conference. The food isn’t that great, but it’s there, it’s free, and you wanna grab it before they take it away. Second lunch is not a rare occasion.

Because I have gained weight. I am bombarded by junk food at every step throughout my day. And I’m bored and a little lonely. And I like to show my partner that I love him by eating badly together. You can guess how this works out.

Because my partner has gained some weight. Obesity and heart disease run in his family, with serious consequences. In an attempt to keep him alive and healthy as long as possible, I’m doing solidarity dieting.

Because processed food and sugar are bad for you. When I used to buy most of my groceries at the Oakland farmer’s market, I didn’t worry about this too much. But my new lifestyle makes this a real issue (and this is mostly what I’m cutting out in my diet).

Because there’s no stigma to dieting here. In my old workplace, if I said I wanted to lose weight, I would be promptly told that I look great and don’t need to. When I say that here, I usually hear, “Oh, me too! I can’t believe how much I’ve gained since I started working here.” My partner’s family members are constantly, unabashedly dieting. My mom thinks I’m fat anyway (doesn’t every Chinese mom?).

And I don’t want to be fat on the beach.


7 Responses to “Diet Musings #1: Why in the World Am I on a Diet?”

  1. syd yang June 20, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    thank you for sharing priscilla! growing up in the OC, being on a diet was as ubiquitous as going to the beach it seemed…and it quickly became something i wanted to get as far away from as possible. it was a mindset that tripped me up. a lot. however, i’ve come to a very different relationship with weight, my body, eating and my physicality as i’ve gotten older and become much less combative with the term “diet”.

    for me, it has been a journey between mindless to mindful eating. which is not as easy at it seems…but it has been intensely life changing in how i approach food, my body and social eating.

    maybe i’ll even join you on the beach this summer…though my hesitation lies in showing off the white palor of my legs (in contrast to my arms + face) as a result of never wearing shorts. the OC doesn’t like un-tanned skin either 🙂

    • cil1977 June 21, 2012 at 8:42 am #

      thanks for sharing, syd! “diet” is a loaded word, but what I’m trying to do is really more about prioritizing being healthy and strong over being comforted by what i eat. i’d love to go to the beach with you this summer! day trip to OC could be super fun… (you know, i expected having to convince my bay area friends to visit me in OC, but i never knew what a struggle it would be to convince LA folks to come to OC too…lol)

  2. Julia R July 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Praises to you for always speaking your beautiful (and sometimes hard) truth. As someone who also loves food (sometimes too much so), I know what a hard and illuminating journey this must be for you. You’ve got this!!!

    • cil1977 July 6, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      Thanks for your unfailing support and enthusiasm, my dear! After you left, Jason said, “I didn’t know you had friends with that much energy.” 🙂

  3. jen July 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    it’s funny that as open as bay area is it’s also fricken oppressive and judgmental. it’s also lame how the idea of having to work at or “try” for the sake of vanity is also looked down upon. as though we are supposed to not give a crap, be able to eat anything we want, and still look good. i, too, am at fault when it comes to judging people (don’t get me started on elective plastic surgery…but i’m trying to get over myself – i’m sure i have some ego/insecurity issues at work. i mean, what else could it be?). anyhoo, life is short. look good. feel good. i will make sure we have a nice paleo spread when you come visit. xoxo


  1. Diet Musings #3: Eating like an OC Cave-Person « oakland 2 oc - July 3, 2012

    […] an elaborate cheat system with rules, cards, and prizes. The irony is that I made a big fuss about outing the fact that I’m on a diet only to realize that we’re not actually dieting; we are just trying to cheat less than normal. […]

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