After winning three Orson Welles look-a-like contests in a row, I decided it was time to look into the issue of adjusting my dietary causes to achieve different dietary effects. I was tired of showing up alone and being offered the group rate on things. It didn’t help when the bag boy at the supermarket asked me if I wanted help to my car. My bag contained two small tomatoes. The final insult was when someone asked me if I’d had my prescription underwear renewed lately. Apparently they detected some sag.
In looking into diet schemes, I had two goals: more health and less weight. I realized that the two went body-in-girdle with each other. But I’d rather be fat and healthy than lean and sickly. Ideally, I’d like to weigh a muscular 175 pounds and be in perfect health for my age (103). But 175 pounds is a long way to go from 605. Fortunately I don’t have to go that far, but I’m sure someone does.
If you study diet books closely, as I have, you’ll realize that you could die of an unanticipated disease: diet book frustration syndrome (DBFS). Here’s the problem: they all seem to cancel each other out. Let’s look at some examples.
A Gaggle O’ Gurus
Forget it. Let’s not try to document all of the differences between the gurus. That project could turn encyclopedic in a hurry. This is only a column, not a tome. Suffice it to say that the high-protein/low carbohydrate people stress meat, fish, poultry and dairy products, along with green leafy leaves, but they eschew carbs, especially if they’re high on the glycemic scale.
The veggie-nuts stress beans and leaves while rejecting all animal products.
The lacto-oval (or is it Ovo?) vegetarians also reject flesh, but eat dairy products with impunity.
The food combination crowd tells us not to eat meat and starch together; this despite Jesus serving of bread and fish together.
The PH people want us to eat 80% alkaline-reacting foods and only 20% acid-reacting foods (your PH should test slightly alkaline). That lets out high-protein diets like Atkins and Protein Power.
The low carb people are death on fruit, except on rare occasions – like a little in the morning. The Food for Life people say we should eat only fruit in the morning.
Some gurus advise us to drink all the fresh carrot juice we can squeeze, and throw in some beets for good measure. Others insist that we shouldn’t eat corn, beets or potatoes in any form – too high in sugars. A third juice guru solves the sugar problem by diluting the juice by half with water. Don’t tell Charlotte Gerson or Jack Lalanne I told you all this! Ms. Gerson has been drinking eight to twelve glasses of carrot juice a day for years, and she hasn’t turned orange yet. It’s those leaves coming out of her head that concern me.
If you run from the sugar busters, you’ll run into the fat busters, or the protein busters or some other kind of buster.
You might discover the 120-year diet. It works on the valid principle of calorie light but nutrient dense meals. Problem is, the recipes are so complicated it could take you 120 years to prepare one, and by that time you’d have starved to death.
This is a no-win research project. None of the experts seem to be in sync with each as to what constitutes the healthiest human diet – or the one that’s best for losing fat without losing muscle. The Mediterranean diet claims to be the world’s healthiest, especially as practiced on the Island of Crete.
A new bodybuilding magazine is trying to go one better – it promotes the Mediterr-Asian Diet. It supposedly combines the two healthiest diets in the world. But watch out for those Sushi parasites!
I think I’ve lost about 10 pounds just from the effort of studying all these books and trying to make sense of them. Why can’t the diet gurus arrive at a consensus about what’s the right way to eat for the rest of us sick sods? We know that we can’t trust the Gov’mint to give us good dietary advice. Its last food pyramid caused most Americans to become shaped like pyramids. So much for the high-carb/low fat model.
In a hot flash of inspiration, I realized why the gurus couldn’t agree with each other: they’re all selling books! If all of them said the same thing, there’d only be a need for one book, and only the people who wrote it would make the bucks. If you’re going to write a diet book and become a guru, you have to say something different from what everyone else is saying and it has to be unique and special.
Oh, I forgot to mention the celebrity diet books. People read those because they want to know how the stars keep from looking like the rest of us.
After building a small library of diet and health books, here are some random thoughts on health and diet. I offer them on a “for what they’re worth” basis. They might work for me as a group. If you want to send money, send it to the Home for Burnt Out Dieters in Crunchpit, Arkansas.
The Bible Sez
Since we are attempting to be a Biblical people, we ought to consider at least some of the things the Bible says about food.
It is commonly believed in Jewish circles that man’s original diet from the time of Adam to Noah was vegetarian (cf. Genesis 29,15). After the flood, Noah and his descendants were given permission to eat flesh (Genesis 9:2-3), though they were forbidden to consume blood (verse 4). So post-Noahic man was given flesh, vegetables and fruit to eat, sans blood. The fear of man was now universal within the animal world (verse 2). So we learn that it is now okay to eat all these things, but that was a compromise with the Edenic ideal. In the world to come, man will again revert to a vegetarian diet. (For further study, check out Umberto Cazzuto’sexcellent commentary on Genesis, Volume I, on the verses above.)
God gave man the right to eat protein, fats and carbohydrates – the three food groups. But he warned that man must not be cruel to the animals he chose to slaughter for food (Genesis 9:4).
Though the food combining people don’t like it, Jesus served bread and fish at the same meal. In his first miracle, he turned water into excellent wine. The Bible also says to “give strong drink to those who are about to perish.” It you check the Hebrew; you’ll find that it means something you could get drunk on (BDB, p. 1016b).
God led the Israelites into a land of “milk & honey.” I’m sure he didn’t lead them there to have them avoid both. And of course he may have talking about goat’s milk here too. Remember, there are those who teach that it is unnatural for adults to drink milk, and that children should only drink mother’s milk. But if cow’s milk is unnatural, why is goat’s milk natural?
Once the priesthood was established in Israel, it became the largest per capita consumer of the finest beef, mutton and goat’s meat in the land.
Of course Daniel ate “pulse” and thrived on it, while those who consumed “the king’s dainties” probably developed gout, diabetes and too much gross tonnage.
Then there’s good ol’ Ezekiel 4:6 bread.
John the Baptist ate “locusts and wild honey.” The latter probably made the former taste better, but the low-carb people wouldn’t approve of the honey part.
Personally, I’m not into bottom feeders and scavengers for food. Things like shellfish, catfish, scorpions, caterpillars, Gila monsters, pigs, bears and rhinoceros are not on my menu. And once I find out about it, I avoid restaurants that serve cats for chicken. And unless I’m short on my MDR of parasites, I avoid sushi.
I still follow the guidelines of Leviticus 11 when it comes to food – not because I feel that I, as a Gentile Christian, am “under” that set of permissions and prohibitions – but because I think God gave his chosen people the best menu.
Now having said all that, and offended some by saying that I’m a “Gentile Christian” (and not an “Ephraimite”), here’s what I’ve provisionally decided when it comes to food, health and exercise:
- Work out with weights 2 to 3 times a week (depending upon recovery time)
- Do some other form of exercise 6 days a week: aerobics, Pilates, walking, rope skipping or accelerated gum chewing, for an hour each day. If you walk, shoot for a daily average of 3 miles. (So far, I’m up to 3 feet per day at a slow pace, but I’m getting there.) If you shoot, walk while shooting.
- Eat a diet balanced between fats, carbohydrates, protein and junk food. Stress low fat, high quality protein sans antibiotics, growth hormone and fattening agents. (Do fattening agents wear dark glasses and trench coats?). You may have to sell one of your cars to pay for a few pounds of clean top beef, but if you eat it in 3-4-oz. Portions, it’ll last a while.
- Eat only whole grains – no refined, denatured products of any kind.
- Prefer low glycemic (under 55 on a scale of 100) carbohydrates.
- Avoid bad fats: lard, transfats or hydrogenated products etc. Prefer olive oil or high quality canola oil for cooking (Popeye did the former and became famous).
- Read the labels. If you want to find out what all those chemical names on your food packages mean, buy Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives by Ruth Winter, M.S. It’s an eye-opener. Notice for example this entrée under “Nitrate”: “Potassium and Sodium. Potassium nitrate, also known as saltpeter and niter, is used as a color fixative in cured meats. Sodium nitrate, also called Chile saltpeter, is used as a color fixative in cured meats. Both nitrates are used in matches and to improve the burning properties of tobacco. They combine with natural stomach saliva and food substances (secondary amines) to create nitrosamines, powerful cancer-causing agents” (p. 293). Check those cold cuts next time you’re at the supermarket. You’ll find that most of them include nitrates, especially sodium.
- If you want to lose weight, eat fewer calories than your body burns until you reach your goal weight. If you want to gain weight, eat more calories than your body burns until you reach your goal tonnage (and work with heavy weights to build muscle rather than blubber). If you want to maintain your present weight, eat exactly the amount of calories your body burns. It takes 3500 calories to sustain a pound of weight. To lose a pound a week, cut out 500 calories a day from your regular diet. That would be 52 pounds a year. Do not continue this until you disappear – only until you reach your goal weight.
- Keep a food log of how many calories you put into your cake hole. Prepare to be embarrassed.
- It matters not how much you weigh, but what percentage of your weight is fat. Learn how to figure out your BMI = body mass index. Here’s how it works: Multiply your weight in pounds by 700. Divide that number by your height in inches. Then divide that result by your height in inches again. If your BMI comes out to between 25 & 30, you are overweight. If it exceeds 30, you are considered obese.
- Avoid people who make you feel miserable – including diet gurus who hate other diet gurus because they’re competition.
- Hang out with people who lift your spirits. Focus on people who seem to bear the first three fruits of the Spirit: love, joy and peace (Galatians 5:22).
- Laugh a lot. After all, life is kind of ridiculous isn’t it?
- Remember the Biblical rule: “Moderation in all things.”
- Remember the other Biblical rule: “No glutton or drunkard shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”
- When you’ve achieved your weight and health goals, brag about in the Letters section of The Journal. It might encourage the rest of the prescription underwear crowd to take responsibility for the shape of their shapes!
The Calorie Counter by Annette B. Natow, PhD, R.D. & Jo-Ann Heslin, M.A., R.D.
The Corrine T. Netzer Carbohydrate Counter (revised and updated 7th edition or later)
The Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide to Losing Weight
The Corrine T. Netzer Dieter’s Diary
Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives by Ruth Winter, M.S.