Crash diet?

中国日报网 2013-09-27 10:58



Crash diet?Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, particularly “crash diet”: How to enjoy duck without going on a crash diet straight afterwards.

My comments:

This seems like some kind of advice on how one can enjoy eating duck without having to worry about gaining weight.

Duck apparently refers to Peking Duck, the roast duck, a local favorite here in Beijing.

Anyways, the sentence intends to tell you how to enjoy Peking Duck, eating to your fill, that is, without having to go on a hunger strike immediately after – skipping the next meal, for example.

That’s essentially what “going on a crash diet straight afterwards” means really.

Crash dieting, you see, is a radical way of controlling your intake of food in order to lose weight in an extremely short period of time. Crash in “crash diet” is the same as crash in “crash course”.

A crash course in English, for example. Many youngsters are going abroad for high school education. Yes, high school education rather than university and college as it was the case just a few years ago. Many of these children go on so-called crash courses during the summer holiday. In a crash course, a lot of classes are crammed together so that the students can get as much information as possible in a very short period of time (a month or two weeks).

Crash, as in “car crash”, suggests it happens quickly. Crash-landing of the airplane, in fact, provides a more vivid picture. Normally, you see, the airplane glides gracefully in the sky, wings stretched out like an eagle in a smooth and controlled manner while dropping lower and lower in altitude – before gently touching floor. It keeps running on the runway for up to a kilometer before coming to a full halt. The whole process is smooth and easy.

But crash-landing? This means an emergency. The plane has lost control in one way or another and has to fall from the sky like a rock and slam into the ground in order to achieve a full stop – the wreckage being the end result.

Too terribly vivid, I admit.

But you get the picture. A crash course in English is, in the same way, intended as a quick fix. Crash dieting works in the same way – people who go on crash dieting are practically starving themselves in order to see the immediate result.

The immediate result being a 10-kilogram loss in weight in a week or something like that.

Frankly speaking, I cannot see any benefit in a crash diet – two cucumbers during the day and water only during the night, for example – except when perhaps you’re an actress who needs to lose 10-kilos before taking on a movie project next month, in which, I have to explain, you’re supposed to portray a stick think model who starves herself regularly due to peer pressure.

Peer pressure? Pressure from peers, or fellow suffers. All supermodels appear super thin in the magazine and on television anyway, don’t they?

Anyways, my position is this. You don’t need to go on a crash diet every time you enjoy a hefty (it is hefty, I admit) meal of Peking Duck. All you need do is exercise discipline and restraint. That is, if you can eat a whole duck, eat half of it. Or if you can have 20 slices, have 15 or 12 slices per meal from now on.

This way, you can repeat the process for always and without a care.

Easy for me to say, I know.

Easy said than done, for sure.

But the idea remains, if you eat less than your fill every time you hit the dining table, and enjoy physical exercise, you can always enjoy food without having to worry about going on a diet, skipping meat and milk entirely.

It’s just a different approach. Perhaps it’s not the size of our waistline that needs adjustment. Perhaps it’s the size of our mind that needs enlarging. We need new ideas that will make us lead a healthy and sustainable lifestyle that involves no force feeding or forced dieting.

Force feeding is terrible for the duck. Forced dieting is equally disturbing. And both are unnecessary.

Come to think of it, both are a product of commercialism. Force feeding the duck produces a quick buck while crash dieting programs are a profitable business too – or at least intended as such.

Oh, well, we’ve been digressing and perhaps have strayed too far.

Let’s turn back and sum up: crash dieting is radical or extreme dieting, which allows much less food than a normal dieting scheme – which already features less calorie intake than normal.

Crash dieting is a quick fix and aims at immediate results. It is unnecessary and, like the crash course in English, it doesn’t always work.

In the long run, I’m sorry to say, it may not work at all.

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Go to Zhang Xin's column


About the author:

Zhang Xin(张欣) has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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