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are diet fads uniquely american? [Oct. 18th, 2004|01:39 pm]
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[keryx]
There was an article in the NYT magazine this weekend called Our National Eating Disorder. It's generally an interesting read and starts off with a funny, snarky history of diet fads.

I don't know much about other countries' cultural issues with food, but it seems unlikely to me that the US is the only country with a diet fixation (it seems like the UK and Australia have a lot of the same issues, for instance, even if they're imported from the US). Can anyone enlighten me?

And then, feel free to comment in any other way on the article, if it sparks your interest.
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[User Picture]From: keryx
2004-10-18 12:07 pm (UTC)
Brazil, really? What is it about Brazil that makes it so special?
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From: puzzlement
2004-10-18 11:41 am (UTC)
The US is about two years ahead of Australia: no Atkins/low-carb ads everywhere yet!

The impression I got in the US is that dieting is a more public activity than it is in Australia: people quoted meal sizes to me in calories, for example. In Australia, when you ask how big a meal is, people make a circle with their hands to indicate the size of the plate.

Getting fit is a public activity in Australia. You don't tell people you want to lose weight, you talk about getting fit. This is what everyone says at to the gym instructors too.

That said, size obsessions, eating disorders, and weird diets are as prominent in "women's media" as they are in the US, they just don't seem to have taken over advertising or conversations as much.
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[User Picture]From: keryx
2004-10-18 12:12 pm (UTC)
Re. taking over conversations; I'm glad to hear that doesn't happen as much elsewhere. I need to get out of the US in a non-touristy context at some point - just to not hear the constant talk of people's diets.

So, is getting fit a euphemism for losing weight? Or is it actually health-related for most folk? In the US, I'm accustomed to seeing "fitness" as mixed-gender talk for "weightloss".
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From: puzzlement
2004-10-18 12:36 pm (UTC)
It is largely a euphemism, but it's sort of age dependent: gym instructors say generally younger people are doing it for muscles, older people to lose weight.
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[User Picture]From: missmeridian
2004-10-18 11:49 am (UTC)
huh. i like it. i also like the praising of food traditions, as we are just one [long grey horrible] month away from my fave holiday, thanksgiving. no matter where i've been for tday, as long as we're doing "traditional" we eat some combination of my most favest food, and most people i know get all narfy thinking about it.

last year i was reminded that not everybody can afford to eat a big feast, not everyone has family or friends to eat with, and that not everybody likes green bean casserole. i felt absolutely horrible. but then i was like, well, i'm sorry but i'm still going to enjoy this batch of creamed corn, with a side of glazed carrots, m'kay?

my point being - i think part of the problem with the gorging on big food days is that most of the time many people don't get to eat three kinds of veggie with their starches [and/or meats]. most of the time people cook the minimum requirement for dinner, and if you are only good at one dish, and you live alone, and you don't have money/location to eat out, you end up eating the same depressing crap everyday [processed or un-].

so on big food day when there's this national requirement to cook using every available container in your house, you get to go crazy and cook and EAT everything you've always loved. and it feels great. until you realise you've eaten all the ham in north carolina. oops.

so i wish we all the the time and energy and knowledge and money and dishwashing capability to eat 5 course meals of homecooked goodness everyday.
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[User Picture]From: keryx
2004-10-19 07:00 am (UTC)
I hear ya. I don't see how to get there, either. I tried not having any eating rules and eating with friends and such and just ended up either eating till I was uncomfortable or not eating at all for days. Currently I'm working with the theory that having non-punitive eating rules will eventually get me into a pattern of eating like this and all will be good. I'm just guessing. What would you try?

It's also possible that we've screwed ourselves up too royally to unscrew (both individually and as a culture).
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[User Picture]From: peregrin8
2004-10-19 07:15 am (UTC)
any chance you could paste in the text, so we don't have to register? (for some reason bugmenot.com isn't working)
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[User Picture]From: keryx
2004-10-19 07:23 am (UTC)
It's one of those multi-pagers. But y'all can use my login: kerykes/demeter.
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[User Picture]From: peregrin8
2004-10-19 07:35 am (UTC)
thanks!
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[User Picture]From: peregrin8
2004-10-19 07:44 am (UTC)
Ooh, I liked the article. I agree with the author about Americans' fixation on scientific formulas instead of treating food as a leisurely, pleasant thing... I think that we have been exporting our fucked-up approach to the rest of the world, though, so that girls in Fiji begin to diet and kids in France go to McDonald's... perhaps tradition will prevail over Americanization elsewhere, though it be too late here!
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