The Lucky Food Diet
Diet meal plans are aplenty – you may have encountered those involving nothing but cabbage soup, or those assigning only a certain kind of food per day (without any citation as to why). Diets are also usually embarked upon right after the indulgence of a New Year’s celebration, usually with the objective of slimming down, shaping up, and generally improving one’s health.
However, here is a meal plan that will not leave you feeling deprived during New Year’s revelries, but assure you of health and prosperity throughout the year. Each culture has its own version of what it considers to be lucky, so this will cover all the bases.
Chocolate chip pancakes with a side of bacon
Start the new year right with circle-shaped food and a glorious, smoky, crisp slice of pork belly. Food shaped in a circle, reminiscent of coins, are said to bring you prosperity for the rest of the year. If circle-shaped food is good, then perhaps circles of chocolate within a circle of fluffy pancake batter is better? If you are prioritizing prosperity over getting into a non-circular shape, feel free to indulge in a few more pancakes. However, if you want to see your abs in time for summer, you may want to skip the coin-shaped prosperity-bringer and head for the bill-shaped ones instead (see: dinner).
Ring-shaped food qualify as lucky as well, so you may be inclined to line up for doughnuts at the fancy doughnut store near you. If you need to stay in line for more than an hour, it’s a confirmation that doughnuts do bring prosperity: if not to you, then to the doughnut store owners.
Much has been written in praise of bacon, but there’s a more compelling reason to eat it on New Year’s: pigs symbolize progress because of their forward rooting. It’s not as if anyone needs even more reason to eat bacon, but now you can fully and confidently enjoy each crunch, knowing that this is all in the name of progress. Smoky, salty, tasty progress.
Stay away from turkey bacon for this occasion, however – pigs represent the fat of the land, abundance you would like to have the whole year round. Turkeys, as well as chickens, scratch backward, the opposite of the forward rooting we root for in the year to come. Locally, chickens are avoided because of the “isang kahig, isang tuka” motion – a hand to mouth existence for the entire year is not a pleasant prospect. But I digress: bacon, the real salted pork kind, is the order of the day.
You’ll probably feel a bit full (and perhaps mildly guilty) from the indulgence that was breakfast. Set your guilt aside, as this is all in the name of ushering in the new year. If that thought doesn’t assuage your guilt, perhaps lunchtime’s offering will make you feel better: legumes and fish.
Legumes, such as lentils and beans, are coin-shaped. So you may not only increase your folate, fiber, and calcium, you may see an increase in your profits as well. Those nursing gout may want to be vigilant about making these coin-shaped deposits in the piggy bank that is your stomach. Fear not, however – many coin-shaped alternatives exist, such as cucumber or zucchini slices.
Like pigs, fish are always moving forward, representing progress. Aside from bringing progress into your life, they symbolize abundance as well. Aside from moving in schools, they lay multiple eggs at one time. Different cultures have different preferences as to the type of fish: Scandinavians, as well as Germans and Poles, eat pickled herring.
Japanese celebrate new year with a serving of herring roe, for fertility. This is subject to individual preference, so exercise judgment before snapping up that roe.
Closer to home is the Chinese tradition of serving fish. Fish fillet is not an option for lunch, however, as the fish has to be served whole. New year’s fish dish must be complete from head to tail. Aside from fish heads being delicious, this will assure you of a good year from start to end. Set aside the fish fingers and fish burgers for another day. You want the entire fish in its scaly glory, since the scales resemble coins. This will increase the abundance in your life the next year, though hopefully not through fishy means.
Grapes (1 dozen)
Greens are said to resemble money, and thus are a lucky food to eat on new year’s. We’re not sure if this refers specifically to the greenback, which may be bad news for those bearish about the US dollar, but think of it instead as generally resembling folded money. No matter what the currency, however, green leafy vegetables are an excellent choice health-wise, and should be eaten the remaining 364 days of the year as well.
As mentioned earlier, we want to make sure to partake of portly porcine portents of progress. Lechon is a popular new year’s fare, and there is something majestic about having an entire pig on the table. While pescatarians may prefer to finish lunch’s fish from head to tail, the more carnivorous among us will probably plow through the lechon, from snout to curly little tail.
If all the rich food served is creeping up on your conscience, worry not – there’s a lucky food to address longevity as well. Noodles are important for long life, but the noodles must not be broken for it to be effective. Macaroni salad may not be the best option for this, unless you are aiming to do a Ke$ha and die young. Go for lovingly hand-pulled noodles instead, and slurp them up to avoid breakage. You have a wide range to choose from locally, from mami to pancit. If you prefer a more Japanese-style menu, soba noodles are considered lucky in Japan.
For dessert, have twelve grapes, one for each month of the year. Spanish tradition dictates that one grape must be eaten with each chime of the bell at midnight. When you think about it, it’s not easy to chew and swallow that many grapes in succession. No word as to whether sips (or swigs, if you are so inclined) of wine are an adequate substitute.
* Results may vary. This Lucky Food Diet yields best results when used in conjunction with adequate financial planning and consistently following a sensible eating plan the entire year, as well as engaging in regular exercise.
Written by Isa Halamani
Illustrations By Bernard Peña