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I wish I had a quarter for every popular weight loss diet I’ve seen come and go during my lifetime. I’d have enough money to go out and buy a hot fudge sundae or two.
I have no idea how many came and went when I was a young kid. My mother had her won strong nutritional regimes and I must say, she was ahead of her time.
For one thing, she was a strong proponent of a good breakfast, which always included a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. She firmly believed in the benefit of Vitamin C and this was the building block of the morning meal.
My mother held very firm views on the dangers of eating fatty and fried foods so sausage, ham, and bacon were rarely seen and never at breakfast. Eggs were either scrambled, baked, or poached and only served twice a week. Oatmeal was a big number, especially during the winter, with only one spoonful of sugar allowed. Cold cereals, which she considered frivolous, were limited to corn flakes, which, I recall, were usually soggy. The oatmeal was usually lumpy, but, while the word cholesterol was unheard of, we weren’t in danger of getting too much of it. For years, I considered the invention of lumpless, five minute oatmeal to be the greatest invention since the wheel. Fad diets didn’t pop up until I was an adult. Up to that time, the standard weight loss was achieved by the simple process of counting calories and eating less. The exercise recommended was pushing away from the table. When I was in college, I worked for a doctor and anyone with excess poundage was handed the 1000 calorie a day diet sheet and a calorie counting booklet small enough to be carried in a purse or pocket. Mine was used to the point of falling apart.
My first recollection of a special diet that caught the public fancy was one called the Duke University Rice Diet. Rice was the principal food allowed - a cup a meal, with small additions of fruit and vegetables. It received some publicity when the wife of the governor of New Jersey, a nice lady of some 250 lbs, moved to Duke University, lived in a dorm room, and went on the diet with the diet gurus supervising her rice intake. She lost over a hundred pounds and for a while there was a big run on rice in the supermarkets.
When everyone became saturated with rice, and the financial benefits of producing a diet plan became evident, the diet industry was up and running. Not long after, the famous water diet was taking the limelight. This one was simple - eat protein plus 8, ten ounce glasses of water every day. Protein meant meat. it was explained that protein absorbed fat but the kidneys would be hard put getting rid of it, so the water was absolutely essential. It worked remarkably well if you didn’t mind gurgling when you walked or ran every half an hour to the bathroom. Eventually, you were allowed a small salad or a few string beans if you craved something besides meat.
The name, “Scarsdale Diet” pops into mind as a follow-up to the water regime. I can’t remember exactly what this program entailed but I do recall the sensation when the diet doctor from Scarsdale, New York, was murdered by his girl friend, who was a lady like headmistress of an exclusive girls’ school. She evidently discovered she was not his head mistress and shot him. Either that, or his diet drove her batty. If you’ve ever been on a diet and not lost enough weight, your frustration could cause you to do almost anything.
Now, it’s to carb or not to carb with pros and cons all over the place. It wasn’t too long ago when Olympic athletes were loading their plates with mountains of pasta as a high carb diet was touted as the sure path to muscles and medals.
With all the varieties of food and ways to eat without becoming a porker, there should be at least one diet for everyone’s taste. I think the best one is the fewer calories a day, drink water, and practice push-aways from the table. If all else fails, have your mouth stapled shut.
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