With new regimes for weight loss making headlines every month, what's a dieter to do?
Thursday, January 28, 1999
Complex carbohydrates are good. Complex carbohydrates are bad! Don''t even look at that banana! Eat six bananas a day. Remember that you can have pasta, just stay the hell away from rice.
And while you''re at it, swing a rubber chicken over your head nine times while you rub your stomach and repeat your mantra in Pig Latin. Do all of this faithfully and you''re guaranteed to lose a pound a day! It''s enough to make you long for the good ol'' days of the Drinking Man''s Diet, when vodka straight was considered a freebie.
It''s a brave new world out there, in the big market share where the weight loss industry looms larger than ever before. While you''re diet shopping, help yourself to some chitosan, a ground-up shellfish concentrate that makes the grease just keep on going and pass right through. How about a little chromium picolinate to adjust your insulin level? No need to risk heart valve damage or lung disease; now there''s herbal Fen-Phen, a mixture of Ma Huang and St. John''s Wort to simultaneously rev you up and calm you down. Even though the manufacturer is still researching its effectiveness, it''s the other prescription Fen-Phen that is now the subject of a class action lawsuit.
Supplements aside, ask diet guru Robert Pritikin, and he''ll tell you the secret to losing weight is simply to eat less fat and more whole grains. By doing so, you''ll bypass your own biological programming and outsmart your body''s fat instinct.
On the other hand, that could be a lot of baloney, according to Dr. Frank Sacks, a researcher at Harvard Medical School--and you might actually be better off eating baloney if you side with him. "Weight loss studies show that use of a low-fat diet, although sometimes successful in the short-term, have not shown success in sustaining weight loss," he attests. Especially if you take into account the study his team has conducted over the last decade which reveals that for our efforts as good Americans, diligently reducing our fat consumption by an average of two percent of our total calorie intake, we gained eight pounds.
Nonetheless (no pun intended), fat consumption is for the most part considered Public Enemy No. 1 in the smorgasbord of diet regimes. And if what medical professionals have to say doesn''t suit you, there''s plenty of opportunity to get another opinion. A stroll through the bookstore will reveal a dizzying array of options, enough to send you reeling toward the latte line.
There''s the Banana Diet, the Carbohydrate Addict''s Diet, the Beverly Hills Fruit Diet, diets that use a spiritual approach, like Love Yourself Thin, espousing the ways in which to make "positive, loving food choices". Stockbroker to the stars, Nikki Haskell''s Star Diet promises that "You don''t have to be a star to look like one," and her book will show you how. More than any time in history, the concept of dieting to lose weight is an accepted cultural practice, if not mania.
But forget about limiting your diet search to books and magazines. Launched into cyberspace, you can click your mouse finger down to the bone before the devinations of thinness are exhausted. How about the Cookie Diet? If you don''t mind waiting while the "before" picture of ''Mr. and Mrs. Gill'' downloads, you''ll soon see how powerful this cookie really is. "It''s so powerful that my husband and I only need to eat one cookie a day," effuses the newly svelte Mrs. Gill.
And when you''re sick of cookies, you can try cabbage. In seven short days, with the Cabbage Soup Diet you can lose 10 to 17 pounds, and change your opinion of cabbage forever. With this one, you can literally stick your whole head in a bucket of miracle potage and suck up as much as you want, as often as you like. There''s a baked potato to look forward to on Day 2, and on Day 5 you''ll be gobbling up six lusty tomatoes. But look out for Day 8, when you''re back out there, on your own.
Click again and you''ll be sure to run into Sugar Busters! Number one now on the New York Times bestseller list, it is of the trendy genre that now identifies sugar, and the attendant release of insulin in the body, as the culprit that inhibits weight loss. Which means, as it is interpreted here, steaks are fine. Just skip the potato, unless oddly enough, you choose a sweet potato. "Throw away your fat gram counter and forget those outdated calorie concepts," is this diet''s battle cry, as long as you avoid bananas, carrots and corn. Say hello, baby, to eggs, cheese and wine.
As could be expected, several more have spun off from this vein. Visit the Accelerated Fat Burning Diet Website for a look at the hunky "certified fitness professional'' that developed this plan. "If you look at his stomach you will see that all of his fat tissue has been burned away"! But this one comes with a warning not to stay on it for more than two weeks "because it is not healthy to get too thin too quickly. Some people stay on it longer than 14 days at a time, but we don''t recommend it unless you want to get too thin." Starting to get excited yet?
The amazing promises and ground-breaking findings go on ad infinitum, bombarding the end-of-the-century consumer with some pretty wild stuff. The old adage of eating less and exercising more is about as trendy as the sage old advice, caveat emptor, may the buyer beware. cw