If it’s true that you are what you eat, and if social media is any guide, not many people would want to be British juice queen, Kara Rosen, founder of the juice company, Plenish.
Rosen decided it would be a good idea to unleash her ‘day on a plate’ diet to shock the world out of its unhealthy lethargy into what she considers to be healthy living. So she published her diet, it in all of its glory, in a British newspaper.
It would be fair to say there are a lot of diets, and stories about diets, doing the rounds these days. You can take your pick. There’s the Paleo diet with activated almonds whatever they might be, no carbs, all liquid and the list goes on. But I don’t think Kara Rosen quite anticipated the worldwide reaction to her diet that bases nearly a whole day’s food intake around a kale salad with pistachios, olives, dried cherries, Argan oil and a drop of apple cider vinegar. It’s certainly a diet because it clearly doesn’t involve much of what most people would call food.
Here is a typical Kara Rosen day. You be the judge. It begins with some hot water and lemon before her morning shower before her workout. Then that’s followed by a handful of nuts before weight training or a run. She then has two scrambled egg whites (Rosen doesn’t like yolk) green tea and when she feels like a weekend treat, an almond milk cappuccino. As for the almond milk cappuccino, I can think of a number of things to call it, but weekend treat, I can safely say, would not be one of them.
Rosen’s biggest meal of the day, wait for it, consists of kale salad, pistachio nuts, olives, dried cherries, Argan oil and a single drop of apple cider vinegar, sometimes with brown rice and grilled fish. A Kara Rosen ‘carby’ lunch, as she calls it, consists of two rice cakes, chia seeds and avocado.
You might not be too surprised to learn that, generally speaking, nutritionists are not impressed with the ‘day on a plate’ diet. In fact not only were they singularly unimpressed, they seriously questioned whether Rosen would be able to survive on such a diet.
The Dietitians Association of Australia was asked to comment on the Rosen diet. Spokesperson, Milena Katz said, in her view, it was “ unrealistic for most people.” I think you’d call that a masterful piece of understatement. Katz made a valiant attempt to break it all down. “ A pack of dried cherries would cost about $A50 a kilo based on fresh cherries being $A20, “ Kata said. “ And I haven’t seen Argan oil for consumption in Australia. It’s been advertised as a hair product.”
Katz said clearly Kara Rosen doesn’t eat certain food groups such as dairy and that might be because she is allergic to certain foods. “ Some people are fine without dairy,” Katz said. “ as long as they are replacing it with supplements. But the majority of people wouldn’t because they don’t know what they are.”
Katz has a description for the obsession some people have about what they eat. She calls it ‘orthorexia nervosa’ An unhealthy fixation with otherwise healthy eating.
“ Generally, we’re seeing that more people are, very, very concerned with what they’re eating,” Katz said. “ And they are potentially excluding good food that they (wrongly) perceive as unhealthy. Normal eating, is eating a bit of everything and having treats on special occasions.”
Now we are talking. Finally a bit of sensible, common-sense advice.
Social media had no shortage of advice for Kara Rosen and her diet. A lot of it was gratuitous and mocking and unkind but pretty funny.
Here are some examples where people have offered their own versions of a ‘day on a plate’ :
“ 7am. Two glasses of deionized water with half a pound of cotton wool. 7.10am 12 specks of dust spread evenly on a 4 “ square of corrugated cardboard. Maybe even a leaf. 12.30pm Two large gulps of free range oxygen. A homemade French abstract lasagna. 3pm A Kit-Kat wrapper. 6.30pm Feng Shui cottage pie with two pipettes of dish water. 10pm Sawdust.
Harriet Ball @ haz_rose: “How to have a #miserable day.”
Charlotte Henry @ charlottehenry : seriously, it is one of the most depressing things I’ve read.”
And Adam Liaw @ admaliaw: “ My day on a plate. 5am wake up and check emails. 6am 10 km run. 7am yoga and a green smoothie. 9am KFC double. 10am cup of ghee. 11am bed.”
Finally, this comment: : “ You’ve accidently given me food that my food eats.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Social media went completely nuts about the Rosen ‘day on a plate’ diet.
The key question worth asking is why do we care? Why would it cause such a strong reaction? According to Cultural Studies commentator and academic, Doctor Lauren Rosewarne, we care because of the way it makes us feel about our own bodies. She says the ‘day on a plate’ phenomenon gives us leverage to look into how other people live their lives, and what sort of food they eat or don’t eat and in what quantities. “ There is also the comparison factor, “ Rosewarne says. “ How do they eat compared to how I eat? This can make us feel better or worse about ourselves and there’s a lot of guilt surrounding food in our culture.”
Ironically, Rosewarne thinks that social media is largely responsible for the almost instant dissemination of information or indignation about fad diets, especially when someone is preaching about their food choices. She says it is a particularly sensitive issue in western culture.
“Once upon a time, it all stayed in the magazine that came out as a Sunday supplement,” Rosewarne says. ” But now these columns (like Rosen’s) get a life of their own, thanks to social media.” Rosewarne says what people really despise, are people like Kara Rosen, who choose to preach a “ holier-than-thou approach to food consumption, which is fast becoming a cultural irritant that refuses to go away.”
“ We just don’t want to be preached to by non-health experts, “ Rosewarne says.
No we don’t.