To diet for

Everyone I know seems to be on a major diet right now.

Only no one’s actually using that four-letter word.

“It’s too restricting,” one friend said wearily.

“It’s just such a dirty word,” said another.

No, these friends have evolved beyond the kind of old-fashioned diet that involves balancing nutritional needs with exercise and moved on to detox programs, Master Cleanses and purifying regimes—all in the name of ridding their bodies of “waste.”

One friend plans to spend the entire month of January eating nothing but steamed greens with light spices, brown rice and mung beans.

Another friend takes to Facebook every day to update the world on how much lemon-honey-cayenne juice concoctions she’s downed today.

Yet another is going completely sugar free.

It has, they tell me, nothing to do with actual weight loss—it’s almost as if the very idea is gauche and passé.

Instead, these carefully designed programs are all about treating the body to a special array of nutrients that purify the body and rev up energy levels.

“I’m sleeping so much better,” one friend told me.

“I don’t drink alcohol at all, I don’t need caffeine anymore and I don’t crave chocolate at all,” confided another, piously.

A 10-day diet consisting of nothing but lemon water infused with honey and cayenne pepper? Thirty days’ worth of mung beans? A life without chocolate?

On one hand, I admire such physical dedication and resolve—three weeks into the new year and I’m back to full-strength coffee addiction and my daily chocolate fixes.

On the other hand, I’m not stupid. I know that, for most people at least, such programs are less about feeling good than they are about fitting back into those tight jeans.

I think of it as the Skinny Bitch phenomenon: Extreme diets masquerading as philosophical and physiological lifestyle changes.

I blame it, at least in part, on the enormously popular cookbook franchise by the same name.

The Skinny Bitch franchise, written by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, doesn’t necessarily advocate an eating plan based on limp greens or weak liquid nourishment, but it does cloak its body-image agenda under the guise of adopting a healthier vegan lifestyle.

As a vegetarian, I’m all for diets—I’m sorry, “lifestyle changes”—that forsake killing animals in favor of healthy vegetables, whole grains and lean, cruelty-free proteins. Too bad Freedman and Barnouin also engage in twisted, faux girl power Sex and the City-styled tactics:

“It’s time to reclaim your mind and body, it’s time to strut your skinny ass down the street like you’re in an episode of Charlie’s Angels” reads the book’s introduction. “It’s time to prance around your room in a thong like you own the world. It’s time to get skinny.”

You know, do it for the animals.

Actually, the message is quite clear: If you want to be successful and sexy, then it’s time to whittle that big ass down.

Elsewhere in the book, Freedman and Barnouin go Mean Girls to push their “non diet” agenda:

“Of course it’s easier to socialize after you’ve had a few drinks. But being a fat pig will hinder you sober or drunk.”


At best, such “non diets” introduce the idea that what we put into our body affects how we feel, both physically and emotionally.

At worst, however, they encourage extreme caloric restriction and a dangerous nutritional approach that sacrifices a healthy, moderate lifestyle in favor of “detoxing” oneself right into a skinny-bitch-worthy thong.