It occurred to me this holiday season that diet and religion have striking similarities.
Following are the Top 10 reasons for my perspective:
1. All diets, like religion, have guidelines to follow. Be it Atkins, Mediterranean, Nutrisystem or The Zone, all diets have a specific set of rules to abide by.
2. People start diets just like they turn to religion. It is commonly done with the hope of self-improvement and it often gives people a sense of purpose.
3. Like religion, diets are not one-size-fits-all. Everyone has their own personal preference, yet no one can legitimately claim that theirs is the one and only correct way to practice.
4. Faith is as much involved in diet as it is in religion. People practice a certain way because they believe it to be true and that they will benefit in the long term. But there is no absolute evidence or certainty that one way versus another will guarantee a healthy life or a trip to heaven.
5. Much like religion, diets are hotly contested and debated. Although both espouse primitivism, it would be hard to find a Raw Foodist and a Paleo who agree on what constitutes a perfect meal, much less find them dining together.
6. Some diets are spin-offs of one another, similar to religion. South Beach and Dukan are only a couple examples of the numerous diets within the low-carb sect.
7. Many diets, just like religion, have more similarities than differences. For example, Vegetarians and Vegans are very close in philosophy, except one draws the line sooner than the other.
8. Like religion, many people actively follow a certain diet, yet some people are more devout than others. This often coincides with show strict the practice is. For example, someone on Weight Watchers may make an exception to eat a piece of cake on their birthday, but it may be unlikely to find a Pescaterian eating a hamburger on any occasion.
9. People can be born and raised into a certain diet based on the practices of their parents, just like religion. This practice is then further reinforced by surrounding family and friends. The like-minded people will support and encourage the practice, whereas those opposed may try to convince the child and/or parents otherwise.
10. Over time, a person’s dietary views can change and there is the potential for conversion, just like with religion. The level of acceptance and tolerance that results ultimately depends on the community in which a person lives.
I hope you enjoyed this perspective. Ever since I decided to modify my diet over 3 years ago, it has become quite a passion of mine. Just like a person studying religion, I spend time reading and learning about food. As a result, my dietary choices are made with purpose and conviction. I am defined by these choices and I couldn’t be more proud to share them on this website.
Happy holidays and don’t over-eat!