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Featured column: Putting My Dieting on a Diet
I am no stranger to diets. For most of my life, I’ve tipped the scales a little more than I probably should. I have come to realize, however, that some diets are just strange. And while I have been fairly successful in shedding a few pounds over the last year, I have learned to avoid some diets.
I say this from experience because I recently was kicked off a diet. Expelled. Booted. Dead to the diet. This is my story.
Not long ago the two women in my life (those being my wife and 19-year-old daughter) decided on a new “lifestyle modification.” They chose a popular new diet that claims you can simply feel better and maybe even lose some weight by eliminating processed foods from their diets. The plan is a month-long culinary “adventure.” (To me, it is an “adventure” in the same way as going without electricity, a car or running water for a month.)
Anyway, in a moment of weakness, I agreed.
They say that in this plan you are supposed to eliminate anything that is processed in anyway, anything with even a hint of sugar or artificial sweetener, no dairy, no grains and no legumes. No ketchup, no barbecue sauce, no soda, no candy, no chips, no fun. Basically all you get to eat is broccoli. Brocoli for breakfast, broccoli for lunch and broccoli for dinner. Those who successfully complete the month say it’s great. Me? I say it is baloney (which by the way, you cannot consume on the diet either).
Rather than coming up with lots of rules about what you can and can’t eat, I think diet designers should tell people simply to do two things: First, make a list of your 50 most favorite foods. Second, don’t eat them. In fact, you might as well wad up your list because it will taste a lot better than broccoli.
Well, that is unless you get kicked off the diet like I did. Oh, I was a trooper for the first six days. (That’s 18 meals, if you’ve got a score card.) Six days of broccoli, chicken, eggs and more broccoli. Six days without potatoes, cake, caffeine or pizza. Six days without happiness, compassion or meaning.
Admittedly, I had become a grouch. The lack of gravy had turned me into a grump. I was surly, cynical and sarcastic. What I mean is I was even more surly, cynical and sarcastic than usual.
Finally, the girls had enough (no, not enough broccoli, rather enough of my attitude and my out-loud yearnings for things I could not have. I mean, I even craved salad dressing. How sick is that? So one day, as we were getting ready to eat lunch — I think the menu was broccoli, but I can’t recall — they looked at me, handed me the car keys and suggested (actually it was more like a direct order) that I needed to immediately proceed to the nearest fast food restaurant and order a cheeseburger (with ketchup!), French fries and a soda. With that, I was gone faster than a cheetah on steroids. I came back happy again (and with ketchup smeared on my face). I’ve never looked back.
They’ve finished the 30 days and say they feel better than they have in some time. We’re all happy because I feel full. Now they’re talking about starting a different plan, one that is supposed to transform non-athletes into five kilometer competitive runners in just a few weeks. I’m betting they don’t ask me to join them.
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