July 22, 2004

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if we could eat whatever we wanted and not gain any weight? There would be a whole lot of happy people as well as a lot of sad ones (particularly the millionaires that get rich off the fad diets that seem to pop up daily).

I guess Iím a bit confused. If they can come up with a sugar substitute thatís good for us, why canít scientists make us a diet Philly steak sandwich or a calorie-less chocolate pie? Better yet, how about some exercise in a can? I guess if it were easy weíd all be svelte and there would be no market for diet fads.

Iíll admit, Iíve tried a few of these get thin fast scams. I wouldnít consider myself a sucker. I subscribe to the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Iíll never accept a get rich quick scheme, so how come I succumb to the slim-fast infomercials? Probably because eating is one of my favorite hobbies and Iím too lazy to exercise like I should.

Obviously Iím not the only one concerned with my weight. As a matter of fact the recent shift in federal policy dealing with obesity proves that the medical world is realizing the challenges of being overweight. While it wonít help people looking to drop a few pounds so they look better in their swimsuit, the transition in public policy will help people with extreme weight issues. This condition may now be considered a medical problem, qualifying it for Medicaid or other governmental aid to assist in curing the problem.

Government isnít the only one caught up in the diet craze. I never thought I would see the day when McDonaldís was catering to the health food industry. How about beerís being sold because they have less carbs? Guess theyíre trying to get away from the old beer-belly stereotype. Whatís next, diet doughnuts?

Of course doughnuts are off limits for all you converts of the Atkins Diet or its relatives, the South Beach diet or the Zone. These are the low-carbohydrate plans that are amazingly popular right now.

Granted I can understand the lure. Unlike most diets, you still get to eat some attractive meals. Never before have we been able to say ďpass me more steak, Iím on a diet.Ē Unfortunately no carbs, means no breads, no fruits, no pastas and no potatoes. So while we can have our meat, we canít have our cake and eat it too.

Still, it is hard to argue with the success Atkins and the carb-fad have witnessed. That is unless you look at a recent study released by the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com) which reveals that the traditional diet of a variety of more healthy foods, combined with moderate exercise are still the best ways to lose weight. The study shows that dieters will lose more weight, more quickly with the no-carb diet, but that stats even out over an extended period of time.

Iím no doctor, and obviously you can tell by looking at me Iím no dietician or exercise guru. So I guess the best diet, basically boils down to what you prefer to give up? If you like meat and can live with out the carbs, go for it. If you prefer a bigger variety of menu items, stick to the traditional calorie counting diet. Either way, in order to truly shed the pounds, we have to eat better and get off the couch more often. Donít look for me in any new bathing suit anytime too soon, as my will power has been sapped by the remote control and those new honey-wheat pretzels. Maybe Iíll create a new pill that lets us be happy the way we are.

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