American feed off fads, from liquid protein diets to the current wave of carbophobia are the examples how Americans hope to conquer their lifestyle’s damage through scientifically controlled, socially-correct foods. Repeatedly, ad nauseam, Americans have failed to heed the warnings about these faddish diets. It is remarkable how quickly the American food industry gears up behind every fad—from low carb beer to low carb hamburgers, they just sprouted overnight onto the shelves of grocery stores. It remains to be seen whether the Atkins-school theory of ketosis, the metabolic process by which the body resorts to burning its own fat when starved of carbohydrates, will someday seem as quaintly quackish as Kellogg's theory of colonic autointoxication in an all-grape diet that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg used to administer to patients at his legendarily nutty sanitarium at Battle Creek, Mich., or the contemporaneous vogue for ''Fletcherizing'' -- chewing each bite of food as many as 100 times -- introduced by Horace Fletcher (also known as the Great Masticator) at the turn of the last century. The same holds true of the drugs, from fen-fen to PPA, the medical journals are filled with horror stories. Yet, the consumers never blinks twice in adopting to every fad that hits the press, if it promises a shapely body. What Americans need more is a shapely brain. We should know that culinary taste is hard wired in our brains through a process that begins with our sense of smell (for which this year’s Nobel Prize was awarded). When you grew up eating your grandma’s beef sausages, the chances are small that you will survive long on a vegetarian diet. And one should not try either; the established theory of set-point—a weight to which all levitate—give a few pounds on both sides, determined genetically, if we do not excessively indulge or deprive ourselves, is a good start. Shapely bodies should be left to Madison Avenue artisans to burn holes in our pockets trying to emulate them. Fortunately, the best advice on what to what, how much to eat and what not to eat is provided free, thanks to your tax dollars, by the FDA. There is a pyramid that takes us home every time, no fads, no calculations, no paranoid and no expenses. You will notice a remarkable presence of carbohydrates, mainly complex carbohydrates; promoters of South Beat Diet made a career out of it. The advice was always available free of charge.
Americans consider eating a necessity and a pleasure in this wrong order; it should be other way around. The only other basic instinct man has programmed in his genes is procreation; when we do no longer fornicate ad lib, why do we then eat ad lib and without drawing pleasure out of it. A guilt has been built around eating, bulimics notwithstanding, wherein, we are supposed to eat to survive, not survive to eat for we know we would ourselves to death. The question that needs answering is not what to eat but how much to eat.
As I travel around the world, I notice a remarkable difference in the size of serving from what I receive at Gibsons’s steakhouse on Rush Street in Chicago to Gordon Ramsay in London. Somehow, over the past three centuries, those living on this side of the pond have become more ravenous with our appetite. However, that is not the worse part; what has also damaged is our maternal teaching—Finish the food on the plate! It is one thing to finish the home-cooked food prepared by your wife and altogether a different thing to finish the chocolate cake offered as desert if you visit Gibson’s steakhouse; the last I counted, it had 5,000 calories. Surprisingly, Americans top the list in the world when it comes to cleaning out their plates—French comes last—always leaving something for the birds. [Note, French do not like doggy bags, they do not like fast food, they do not like any wine not labeled French and they do not like anyone not speaking French and they do not like those not subscribing to hypocrisy; they also do not like Americans—a first hand experience in all assertions made here]. Some call it a French Paradox vis-à-vis the American Paradox. Regardless, what works is if you learn to leave food on the plate. [I do not want environmentalists, Third-World keepers and born-again whatever-the-religion groups to start taking a pot shot at me for wasting food (God’s blessings) while a third of world starves every day; I am not moralist. What I am saying that you have already damaged your finances by purchasing that obscene quantity of food; save the damage to your body by not eating all; please no e-mails to demonize this advise].
So, if you were looking for a FAD to instantly cure your guilt about not doing enough for you—relax; you do not need FAD, you need FDA. Go to http://www.healthfinder.gov for every conceivable question you may have for your diet, health and mental sanity.
Wise eating is codified in us through our cultural traits; besides the survival instinct, cultural routines have always played a significant role in determining our eating habits. The American culture of avarice distils into our eating habits as well. The cornucopia of the American supermarket now caters to all culturally driven food types—only when you buy it off the shelf rather than cooking it yourself that the benign food becomes lethal. If you have difficulty believing then go to the FEDS (above).
And now the final talk about paranoia and our eating habits; when I see a middle-age man running to gym for a pre-burn so he can gorge the chocolate mousse at the corporate dinner, I become concerned—not about his physical health but about his mental health. This is pure Americana. We need not become slave to our gluttony; enjoy the food for it is indeed a blessing of God but do not abuse God’s bounty. I two words, the only diet plan that works for life is: EAT LESS.