The Chopstick Diet

Simona Schneider


Has the following happened to you lately? You go for a visit to the zoo. The crocuses are poking their beaks out of soil like spring chicks hungry for a worm; summer is just around the corner. You are licking an ice cream cone, taking big toothless bites out of frozen heaven not even looking where you are going, so enraptured are you in cookie dough. You suddenly feel as if you are being watched. You look up to find a ferocious large cat, of the tiger variety, baring its teeth and drooling just feet from your face. You stare, mesmerized by its black, glassy eyes and for the first time see yourself for what you truly are. You think: You must change your life. Because admit it, you are but a tasty morsel to be devoured for weeks on end, something by which to get through the winter.

This may not be exactly what prompted Rilke to write this “Change your life” line over a hundred years ago, but then again perhaps Clara Westhoff was gaining weight rapidly. Regardless, in the ‘00s we start small. We are a generation of realistic baby steppers. You do not want to change what you eat, just how you eat it. This philosophy is in line with the times. States do not want to stop the death-penalty, they just want to change how it is implemented. Both are examples of indulging sinful proclivities with technicalities. What’s more, tomatoes were once vegetables, now they’re fruit, so why change your moral or nutritional standards when people are changing it for you beyond your control?

In our case, implements pose an interesting problem. As doctor of the Chopstick Diet, I prescribe to you two chopsticks to take at breakfast, lunch, dinner, with your soup, salad, pizza, steak and ice cream until you lose those pounds. Follow these tenets and ye shalt be slim.

First: Get a grip. What sounds better, eating a chopstick sandwich, or a sandwich with chopsticks? Make a decision, because those are your two choices for getting in shape for summer. If you’re not a seasoned chopstick user, even better. You’ll benefit two-fold from this exercise in the great weight-loss.

Second: Know the rules. Hold the chopsticks at the very top, the most polite and thus the most difficult way, as always. Also know the etiquette. Never stick your chopsticks into your food. This is extremely “bad luck” and is only done at funerals. Don’t be surprised if you gain ten extra pounds if you do not follow these rules.

Third: Contemplate your meal. This is not a Buddhist exercise, but picking each morsel up between pinchers like a crab will bring you closer to your prey. You will notice very quickly that it is impossible for you to shove handfuls of potato chips down the hatch and forget that you have done so, directly afterwards remarking, “What was I doing again? Oh, that’s right, eating, let’s continue that.”

Four: Think of the chopsticks as an inspirational form. Spoons are the goldfish of the utensil world, they eat as much as you fill them; the fork is greedy, sticking four arms out and grabbing anything in its way, by violence; the spork is such a parody, but really, we laugh at it because it is the most truthful representation of our platonic ideal of a utensil, filling all our needs as quickly as it fills our bellies. The knife is a useful accessory, but should be relegated to the kitchen where food is cut up into bite-size pieces before being tackled—like the fork, it is violent.

Five: The greatest achievement of perfection is a tool that does exactly what it is meant to do. Or, for the zen of you: you will only break the pulley made with a thread by trying to lift an elephant. This diet orders that you eat everything with chopsticks, this especially includes steaks, TV dinners, spacefood, milkshakes (beware those splinters!). So when ordering at a restaurant be practical unless you want to look ridiculous

Not convinced yet? Try these tests.

Eat with a fork, while someone who normally eats twice as fast as you has to struggle with chopsticks. This will give you masochistic pleasure, and it will also prove (you will find) that eating with chopsticks doubles your eating time, thus cutting in half the amount of food you eat over time.

Try picking up as many peanuts up with chopsticks as you can. In parts of China this exercise is the true test of a great chopstick user, and even then it is only possible to pick up about 5 across for a champion compared to 10 peanuts in one handful.

When you’ve mastered the chopstick diet, you will be ready for the one chopstick diet my son.

Disclaimer: The chopstick diet is neither scientifically proven, nor a result of extensive testing. It does not mean you can eat anything at all with chopsticks, never exercise and still lose weight. The idea is, however, if you have to eat a twinkie, the chopsticks will make you savour it more, causing you greater pleasure with less twinkie or will help you refuse the twinkie before you even get started.