Still searching for a diet panacea

Published 11:12 am Thursday, February 9, 2017

By Tom Purcell

I know Democrats and progressives are going nuts over President Trump’s first few weeks in office — I know the Middle East is a mess and that we have no small number of incredible challenges at home — but I have my own worries.

Like millions of other Americans, I’m on my annual February diet.

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You see, it’s not easy to be trim and fit in America. Our culture is saturated with an abundance of high-calorie, processed foods that turn into instant fat.

We work long and hard in sedentary office jobs, then eat our stress away, two or three fast-food treats at a time.

We’ve become so fat, to quote Rodney Dangerfield, that our bathtubs have stretch marks.

We know our increasing tubbiness isn’t healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity-associated diseases such as diabetes have soared in recent years. Gallbladder diseases, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and heart disease are all caused by carrying too much weight.

And so we are on a continuous mission to lose weight. Our challenge is that the fad diets that promise to get us there go in and out of fashion faster than the white patent leather shoes and belts my father used to wear to church.

According to the website The Daily Meal ( ), the Mediterranean Diet — it features natural, plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts — is in.

So, too, is the Paleo Diet, which apparently is similar to the Mediterranean Diet, except legumes are forbidden.

Which is a shame, too, because I just learned that legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupin beans, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts and tamarind — which go well with the bourbon I am driven to drink as I try to figure out which diet to go on.

Volumetrics is another “in” diet. It encourages the consumption of low-energy-density foods, which make you feel full with fewer calories than high-energy-density foods. It also sounds like too much math is involved.

The Gluten Diet is on the outs, though, according to The Daily Meal. Apparently, it puts people at risk for “different deficiencies such as B vitamin deficiencies, calcium, fiber, vitamin D, and iron.”

The Daily Meal no longer favors the Atkins Diet, either, which makes me sore.

Dr. Atkins said we could eat delicious steaks, pork, chicken and fish. He said we could eat as much eggs and cheese and other tasty no-sugar treats as we could stuff into our bellies. His diet was all the rage for years.

But now The Daily Meal says his diet is a “no go”? That it is not heart-healthy and that most users are not compliant over the long term?

Not so fast! Several prominent studies have concluded that old Doc Atkins was onto something. Low-carbohydrate diets may actually take off more weight than low-fat diets and may be surprisingly better for cholesterol, too.

One of my greatest dieting disappointments of the last 20 years, though, was the failure of the “exercise pill,” which had shown promise at Duke University around 2002.

Researchers had located the chemical pathways that muscle cells use to build strength and endurance. With that knowledge in hand, there was hope that a pill could be created that would pump up muscle cells WITHOUT the need for actual exercise.

Dieting Americans could have sat on the couch, chomping potato chips and dip, while their biceps got as round as cantaloupes and their abs got as hard as stone — but this uniquely American dieting innovation wasn’t to be.

I think I’ll try a new, restrictive diet this February: the “Democrats in Congress Diet.”

I’ll deny myself everything.

Tom Purcell is a syndicated columnist.