Loosely Literal: 10 Must-Try Literary Diets

Posted on Thu, Apr 28 2016 9:00 am by Sally Franson

 

Ladies! Spring has sprung and you know what that means: IT’S TIME TO DIET! These winter muffin tops aren’t going to eat themselves, ladies, and ladies: nothing feels better than fitting into a smaller pair of pants. But ladies! There are better ways to lose weight than jumping on a treadmill or throwing your bread in the trash. Books not only give us something to talk about with your friends besides television, they’re also hotbeds of thinspiration. Follow the advice of these fabulous literary ladies to the letter (get it?!), or mix and match from below. But whatever you do, ladies, remember: you are what you eat!

THE HAVISHAM DIET (GREAT EXPECTATIONS, by Charles Dickens)
What You Need: wedding breakfast, wedding cake, unreliable boyfriend
How It Works: Fall CRAZY in love with a guy who’s out to swindle you for your father’s money. Ignore everyone who thinks he’s like, “eh.” Lose it a little when he jilts you on your wedding day. Keep the wedding cake and breakfast plated on the table. Become a bitter recluse. Pick at the food once in a while as you wander around your sad mansion wearing one shoe and your wedding dress.
Pros: Your wedding dress will look great on you! :)
Cons: You will go crazy. :(

THE SETHE DIET (BELOVED, by Toni Morrison)
What You Need: potatoes, preserves, ghost of the dead baby you murdered to keep her out of slavery
How It Works: Make a TON of food for the ghost of your dead baby, who is a *little* hurt that you killed her. Feed her awesome pies and stuff and forget about eating any yourself. (You’re busy!) Run out of food because you lose your job because you get a *little* obsessed with the ghost of your dead baby. Waste away as the dead baby gobbles up your whole life.
Pros: The ghost of your dead baby comes back to life! :)
Cons: The ghost of your dead baby wants to kill you. :(

THE MARIA DIET (PLAY IT AS IT LAYS, by Joan Didion)
What You Need: whiskey, Coca-Cola, hard-boiled eggs
How It Works: Lose it a little after you wake up and realize everything and everyone in your life is a sham. Crack eggs on the steering wheel on long drives that go nowhere and drink Coca-Cola at gas stations. Drink too much, smoke cigarettes, develop crippling ennui. Watch your ex-husband’s buddy overdose. Secret abortion a plus here.
Pros: Guaranteed you will drop to a slim eighty-something pounds! :)
Cons: No one’s allowed to compliment appearances in your psychiatric care facility. :(

THE LINA DIET (THE NEAPOLITAN NOVELS, by Elena Ferrante)
What You Need: sausage, pizza, men behaving badly
How It Works: Grow up poor. Get married to a jerk, have an affair with another jerk, run away with him, get pregnant. Get dragged back, have the kid, run away again, get a job at a sausage factory, leave it, come back to where you came from. See through everything.
Pros: Some gals blow up like a balloon under extreme prolonged stress. Not you! ;)
Cons: You will disappear. :(

THE CHARLOTTE DIET (THE YELLOW WALLPAPER, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman)
What You Need: doctor, controlling husband, soup
How It Works: Get convinced by your husband and doctor that you need bedrest to get over your sad feelings. Stay in bed for an entire summer looking at your rental property’s wallpaper. Forget to eat and lose your appetite because, listen, there will be a LOT of stuff to keep track of in this wallpaper.
Pros: Wallpaper is super fun after a while! :)
Cons: You will go crazy. :(

THE DAISY DIET (THE GREAT GATSBY, by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
What You Need: champagne, moonshine, a cavalier sense of the value of human life
How It Works: Fall CRAZY in love with a guy you met before you were married and who obsessively moved into your neighborhood. Have a torrid affair during which you lose all sense of reality, but when things get a little TOO crazy (you run over your husband’s mistress, ew!), try to patch things up with your husband. After all, he takes such good care of you. <3
Pros: They don’t talk about lovers wasting away for no reason! :)
Cons: Your lover will die. :(

THE ESTHER DIET (THE BELL JAR, by Sylvia Plath)
What You Need: Poisoned crabmeat, avocadoes, caviar, sleeping pills
How It Works: Get an internship in the big city and eat lots of fancy food. Come home from the big city and lose it a little when your existential uncertainty gets the better of you. Take a *little* too many of your insomnia pills and pass out under the porch of your parents’ house. Get admitted to psych ward for ECT and insulin shots.
Pros: The food in the mental hospital isn’t too bad! :)
Cons: You will be stuck in a mental hospital. :(

THE LILY DIET (HOUSE OF MIRTH, by Edith Wharton)
What You Need: tea, hard biscuits, enough scandal to exile you from your exclusive social circle
How It Works: Move into a gross boarding house after you lose all your money and influence. Get too embarrassed to take meals in the dining room (those other boarders are so SAD!). Get a factory job you hate and makes you too poor to eat out. Hide alone in your room at night, drinking tea and thinking sad things.
Pros: Those fancy dresses you used to wear can always be taken in! :)
Cons: You will die. :(

THE TITA DIET (LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, by Laura Esquivel)
What You Need: water, chocolate, controlling mother, matches
How It Works: Have your mother scar you forever by preventing you from marrying the love of your love. Become a cook and develop magic powers so people feel your feelings when they eat. Commit to permanent loneliness. Years later run into your man again and, after he proposes, make sweet love in the kitchen. Watch him die. Eat matches and light yourselves on fire.
Pros: You won’t die a virgin! :)
Cons: You will die. :(

THE ANNA DIET (ANNA KARENINA, by Leo Tolstoy)
What You Need: vodka, pierogis, tight-a&# corset, inability to dismiss social constraints
How It Works: Fall CRAZY in love with a guy who’s way hotter than your boring-a&# husband. Run away to Italy with him, have a great time, come back and find yourself paranoid that your new man’s got a girl on the side. Get a little weird by staying alone in your house all day.|
Pros: It’s easy not to overeat at dinners when no one’s inviting you to dinner! :)
Cons: You will die. :(


Sally Franson received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and was a 2012 GRPP Fellow. Her work has recently appeared in WitnessRoomelimae, and Bartleby Snopes, among others, and she was the winner of the Loft’s Fall Writing Contest in 2012. She is also a recipient of a 2014 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant. In addition to teaching and finishing her first book, Sally is a contributing writer toThe Fiddleback and Paper Dartssallyfranson.com