Let’s Just Lie About Dieting

There are world-class liars out there. They package together ideas that match what some group of people is ready to hear. When liars start a campaign to win hearts, minds, and dollars, they never begin with a search for truth. They wade through the currents of dreams and desperation that flow through our ape brains. The kernel of their Big Idea is a “What If” question asked with the breathless naiveté of a caffeinated teenager, and answered with the cynical contrivances of a dirty con man.

What’s in the box?

To understand how the technique works, let’s just try doing it ourselves. Let’s just lie! It’s fun and easy. I’ll show you!

I chose the topic of dieting for this exercise. You’d think by now we’d have figured out how to not be fat. We have books, videos, gyms, support groups, pre-packaged meals, coaches, doctors, nutritionists, medical procedures, and all kinds of dopey exercise equipment stored behind the water heater in your garage. Since at least 1825, with Jean Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste, we have welcomed the advice of experts to achieve better health and shed our unwanted pounds. For all that time and effort, we seem no closer to finding a solution that consistently helps people.

So today I’m going to try my hand at being a diet expert. And I’m just going to lie. Because I think that’s what most all of them do. So let’s invent some new diet fads. I’ll just make them up right now.

Lie #1 — Eat Like Simple Folk

Idea: There are primitive people somewhere living untouched by the poisons of Modern Life. They are really healthy, and we should eat the same stuff they do.

Building the Lie

Based on the above idea, I considered which people in the world lived a simple existence very different from mine.

First, I thought to invent a diet patterned after the eating habits of rainforest tribes, but that idea is already taken. It is unimaginatively called the “Rainforest Diet,” by someone with the same lazy thought process as myself. Diets involving island peoples (Greeks, Kitavans, etc.) are already well represented. What’s left? Cave dwellers are covered by Paleo, the Caveman Power Diet, and several others.

I Googled “people who live in trees,” and I found out about the Korowai, who exist today in Papua, New Guinea. I quickly entered “Korowai Diet” into the search box, hoping another exploitative liar hadn’t beaten me to it.

Ha! There was no “Korowai Diet” yet. In the Fad Diet Gold Rush, I had found some unclaimed territory. I resisted the urge to buy the “korowaidiet.com” domain. After all, I’m just writing an article about lying and not actually trying to deceive people into trying my fake diet.

So after some quick and shoddy research, I present you the “Korowai Diet”. Don’t bother to fact-check me or tut-tut my cultural appropriation. Please appreciate that I have gleefully abandoned my morals to bring you this new and wonderful lie.

The Korowai Diet

These actually are Korowai. And they really do live in tree houses, which is pretty cool.
Before we lived in houses, we lived in caves. And before we lived in caves, we lived in trees. We spent most of our time lounging in leaf-woven hammocks. Life was simple. Life was good.
Our distant ancestors have mysteriously disappeared, and nobody knows where they went. But one group remains on the planet practicing the ancient tree-dwelling lifestyle — the Korowai of Papua, New Guinea.
I was allowed to visit their tree village last year and learn some of their most treasured secrets. I am humbled by this opportunity and feel it is my Life Mission to share their wisdom with all that may benefit. Did you know that the Korowai have over 752 words for “leaf”? The Korowai are a beautiful and happy people, possessing unusual capabilities. Even their children and elderly performed amazing physical feats, jumping twenty feet in the air or balancing boulders on their noses. “How can you be this healthy?” I asked them.
The secret is in what these incredible people eat. I learned the Korowai Diet, and you can too!
On the Korowai Diet, you only eat two things — leaves and the flesh of humans that have been possessed by demons. You can eat as many leaves as you want. I will show you the most flavorful and healthful leaves, most of which are also aphrodisiacs.
Tasty human flesh will be prepared for you aboard my cruise ship in International Waters. While enjoying this delicious source of healthy fat and protein, you will simultaneously enact revenge upon the khakhua (male witch) that has slowly devoured its human host. Don’t worry — I will provide you with a magical bone arrow and all other materials needed for completion of the ritual.

Lie #2 —Eat What You Like

Idea: Maybe the food you like most just happens to be really healthy. And all you have to do is eat that food.

Building the Lie

Once again, I was stymied by obvious variations of this idea claimed by other liars that got to them first. There is already a bacon diet, a chocolate diet, an ice cream diet, a steak and eggs diet, and even an all-candy diet. (Really! Go look!) Diets catering to every conceivable food-lust await the gullible.

I devised a diet large enough to contain all the other “eat what you like” diets. I made it flexible and personal. It pandered ten times harder to the unreasonable hopes of would-be dieters.

“Fave Food Only” Diet

All cheeseburgers all of the time–dream or nightmare?
What is your favorite food? What is the very most enjoyable thing to stuff into your face-hole that isn’t genitalia?
I want you to write the name of that food on a piece of paper. Now seal the paper in an envelope, and mail it to yourself. When your mail arrives, open the envelope and read what’s written on the paper.
That’s what you’re going to be eating.
Exclusively.
For the next forty-four weeks.
You were expecting I’d tell you what to eat. But guess what? I’m not qualified to tell you what to eat. There’s only one person in the world that is. If you want to meet that person, just look in the mirror. You know your body. You know what it wants. It’s time to trust yourself!
The key to success is eating the single food item you picked and nothing else. If you said “pineapple” then order yourself ten cases of pineapples. If you said “crème brûlée”, then I see a whole lot of crunchy pudding in your future. Bacon? Get a bib and some wet wipes for your greasy face, because you’ll be pushing down three baco-meals a day!
Will you grow tired of eating the same thing day after day? Obviously! But that’s how you lose weight. Learn to despise your favorite food so that you only eat it when you’re truly hungry.

Lie #3 — The Engineering Mindset

Idea: For the bold and nerdy, there must be some disruptive technology–an app or something–that fixes this whole digestive mess in an easy, clever way.

Building the Lie

As a techie, this idea speaks to me. I just want to beat the problem with science. Counting calories and going to the gym seems old-fashioned — Calvinistic, even. I don’t want to be a hard-working chump. Let’s lifehack it!

I mulled over what’s already been done, looking for a new twist. Here’s what I came up with.

Hack Your Stomach

Are you in control of your own stomach?
Your gut is full of bacterial microbes. When you eat and drink things, the microbes are down there interacting with it. They decompose your food and route important nutrients to your brain, making you smarter. Or to your feet, making you run faster, as the case may be. It’s like you have a whole team of people in your stomach working for a corporation, which is your body.
And you are the CEO of that corporation. Do you have the right microbes working for you? Or are they just a pack of lazy and incompetent freeloaders?
The sad truth is that you have no idea who these microbes are. But we can fix that.
What if I told you that you could be burning fat at ten times the normal rate? 10x! And this happens while you sleep! Wake up in the morning with rock abs. Rub your hand up and down those tight little nubbies. It makes a cool sound when you do it— like “thwup thwup thwup”. You will love it.
The key to your transformation is our microbe stack ranking system. Sucky under-performers gotta go! You just poop them out to make room for more capable and motivated microbes. In just two short weeks, you will assemble a world-class team of rock stars pushing for gastro-excellence.

All Dreams Attract Liars

I’ve been silly for the sake of entertaining others and myself while writing this. But there is still an insight I hope to impart.

It’s way too easy to assemble nonsense that will gain support from uncritical people. Every time I asked myself “what would be a good lie,” I found that others had already capitalized on my idea in some form. If there is any notion that might be popular or profitable, you can count on it being professionally packaged and put forth. Many ideas are just too appealing to leave alone, even with no truth to support them.

I don’t really want to lie. It’s just worth thinking about how it can be done.

Like what you read? Give Erik Hermansen a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.