Feature photo credit: Girl with Red Hat via Unsplash.
Any good food can be abused into the shame spiral of diet culture. I have no problem with protein shakes, egg white omelettes, or cabbage soup. Well, maybe I have a problem with cabbage soup. Although borscht is good. Anyway, B365 teaches it’s not the things we’re eating that makes something a diet but the mindset we approach it with, so I thought I’d play a game. I have some old cookbooks, many of which are steeped in diet culture, and let’s see if we can take that diet food and make it a balanced, satisfying meal, yes?
Book: Food, by Susan Powter, (c) 1995
Weird diet advice: Thicken soups with dried mashed potato flakes
Recipe: Broccoli Soup, p 373
I’m starting easy on myself. There are actually recipes in this cookbook that I still use, decades after I stopped worrying about keeping my dietary fat below 15%. But this soup seems, well, basically like sauteed broccoli in soup form. Broccoli, garlic, some spices, and a couple potatoes.
So, to make this a balanced, satisfying meal I would add some chicken or tofu. Maybe some cheddar cheese, too? Adds some satisfying fat and some umami flavor. Oh, speaking of umami, some mushrooms with the onions and garlic would be good and add a nice chew!
Book: The Good Goodies, Stan and Floss Dworkin, (c) 1974
Weird diet advice: Wax your cookie sheets and cake pans instead of greasing them to avoid added fat
Recipe: Liver and Onion Crisps (p75)
Ok, I’ve got my work cut out for me on this one. I don’t even eat liver! But, let’s say a person does and they’ve decided to eat it in rice crackers. Seems like we could make it a more balanced meal with a hefty side of fruits and vegetables to make it more filling. And maybe some cheese? Or maybe that’s just so I can hide the taste and texture of the crackers.
Book: Think Yourself Thin, Thyra Samter Winslow, (c) 1951
Weird diet advice: Substitute mineral oil for vegetable oil when sauteeing.
Recipe: Fish Mold
Yuck. What was it about the middle of last century and savory gelatin things?! Well, it’s high protein, so that’s nice. Now it needs some fruits and veggies and some starchy carbs. Maybe a big green salad? And a pile of rice. I learned living abroad that I could eat just about anything if I heaped enough rice on top of it before I chewed.
And there you go! Three satisfying, balanced meals made from diet offerings. Good foods and bad foods are about what you enjoy and what helps you live your best life, not mineral oil and gelatin.
Do you have a favorite food that others might see as “diet” food, but you eat just because you enjoy it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Unless it’s fish mold. In which case, no. Just no.
Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found perusing old cookbooks, picking up heavy things and putting them down again in Portland, Oregon.