The XX Factor

Nonforbidden Fruit

In the already-glutted bizarre diet market in which cabbage soup, tapeworms, and cayenne pepper cleanses are all acceptable slim-down methods, a new scheme has emerged: the Faith Diet. According to Fox News :

The Hallelujah Diet, by the Rev. George and Rhonda Malkmus, takes its cues from the book of Genesis, focusing on raw fruits and vegetables. The Maker’s Diet, by Dr. Jordan S. Rubin, follows the format of the Mosaic dietary laws from the book of Leviticus.

A curious hybrid of Nazareth-inspired Mediterranean fare and 12-step program for food-addicts, these regimens (there’s also the “Light Weight” diet) encourage participants to turn to God, rather than food, for emotional sustenance. Other varieties, like self-proclaimed Anti-Fat Pastor Steve Reynolds’ “Bod 4 God” program, interpret specific Biblical passages as personal directives to shed fat. For dutiful Christians, losing weight is no longer a concession to vanity and social convention; it’s a moral imperative.

Apart from some of the more obvious issues (Would cheesecake be a mortal, or just venial, sin?), the question remains: Why aren’t these programs more popular? The Faith Diet combines America’s two great obsessions: religion and weight loss, nobly recasting the common struggle to drop excess poundage as a dramatic Manichean showdown between good and evil, raw and processed. While the gurus trumpeting these plans preach acceptance of all body types and do not adhere to the Jillian Michaels’ school of militant diet enforcement , they certainly tap into the redemptive narrative mined by weight loss shows like The Biggest Loser and Celebrity Fit Club .