Diet Fads: Supermarket SheepWritten by Virginia Bola, PsyD
Eighteen or twenty years ago, I was into high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diets, courtesy of original Atkins Diet Revolution and, to an even greater extent, Stillman's Quick Weight Loss Diet (which I must admit I still prefer to Atkins but that's merely personal taste). At time, every aisle was loaded with labels proclaiming Low Fat or Reduced Fat. I didn't care about fat and sought much different information. Unfortunately, low fat was "in" and I felt alone and abandoned.
With a certain sense of resentment, I tracked down carbohydrate costs of a wide variety of food, keeping a sharp eye on ingredients, calorie levels, and nutritional values. Certain items were strangely emblazoned with banners announcing low fat: pasta sauce, potato chips, candy bars, and ice cream. I was puzzled: how could certain foods, full of fat to their very core, be low fat? How could all fat be removed and there be anything left?
I became fascinated with certain labels. Have you ever, for example, read labels on those flavored coffee creamers? Zero fat. Zero carbohydrates. Zero protein. Zero calories. How can anything we put in our mouths have zero calories? A negligible amount, maybe, but absolute zero? What is in that stuff? Or is it virtual food, existing only in our mind's eye as a kind of edible hologram?
Mercifully, low fat craze died its natural death. Atkins and similar regimens took over and low fat labels were reprinted (corporate recycling at its finest) to read Low Carb. Suddenly, everywhere you looked, there were foods recast as low carb - again with pasta sauce, potato chips, candy bars, and ice cream.
I was curious. Had manufacturers taken out all those carbs and put fat back in? Where did those carbs go? Are there vast dumpsites in desert where unwanted carbs are buried - next to worn tires, plastic bags, and nuclear waste?
Rating The Diets, A Mindless ExerciseWritten by Virginia Bola, PsyD
There has been a recent surge in experts weighing in (pun intended) on popular and celebrity diets to rate them in terms of effectiveness, nutritional adequacy, and balance. Look at latest crop of magazines, Internet news reports, and television specials.
What is a semi-motivated would-be dieter to do?
Every diet listed seems to give rise to a chorus of criticism. Either it contains too few fruits and vegetables, not enough fiber, not enough fat, or too few calories. The glycemic index is too high or too low, nutritional content of its staples are not good enough, there is too much or too little of something.
Who rates what we are eating now? We simply pig out on everything from pizza, to fast food, to snacks (did you know that potato chips are most popular snack food in America - accompanying 32% of our lunches?), desserts, ice cream and beer.
While it would be nice, I suppose, to have a population who ate only healthy foods, in moderation, exercised daily, and took care to ingest at least minimum requirement of vitamins and minerals, that is not reality, my friend. We overeat on all wrong foods, we avoid regular exercise like plague, and huff and puff our way into enlarged bodies that are twenty to fifty pounds heavier than our frames deserve.
Any way that we can take off some or all of that weight is worthwhile. No one is going to stay on any of popular diets for a lifetime, let's face it. We look at them as temporary (which is part of problem, but I digress) fixes. The last thing we need are experts who make us afraid to start because we might not be obtaining right nutrition. Or do we take a certain degree of self-satisfaction in telling ourselves that we can't start until "perfect diet" is identified?