Let’s say your name is Jim, and you’re 60-ish. Back in the day, you’d go to the doctor for a physical and he’d say, “Jim, you need to drop a few. Cut back on the booze and stop eating Margie’s coconut pie after dinner.”
Then he’d stub out his Lucky Strike and you’d make plans for golf next Tuesday. You’d hand the receptionist eight bucks for the office visit and go on your merry way, maybe to eat pie, maybe not.
Times have changed, Jim. Today, it’s not about less pie. It’s about insulin resistance, low carbs and keto. Losing weight can be harder than high school trigonometry. (Do they still teach that, or did it vanish like the name Margie and smoking doctors?)
Surveys indicate up to 70 percent of us want to drop a few, which means the diet industry is booming. Just Google weight-loss plans—actually, don’t, unless you want to see Jenny Craig popups in online articles until you die, and maybe afterwards.
We are a nation of abundance, with food that’s plentiful and relatively cheap. (Insert “Whole Paycheck” joke here.) Yet most of us want to eat less, as evidenced by a dizzying array of diets: paleo, whole foods, raw, macrobiotic, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, South Beach, Adkins, the Zone, Volumetrics, Sugar Busters, the 5:2 plan, the blood type diet, Mediterranean Diet, and—throwing it way back—the flight attendant diet (10 pounds in seven days!), the Scarsdale Diet and the Duke University Rice Diet.
I invented a personal plan called the makeup diet: Any time I wanted chocolate, I’d buy makeup instead. I didn’t really lose weight, but my lipstick game was fierce.
There’s also the well-known breakup diet, when you’re heartsick and can’t eat. (Twenty-one years ago, I was down to 91 pounds and my hair fell out in clumps. Don’t be stupid like me: Move on and eat something. Anything.)
I do think a healthful diet is the key to good health. As the philosopher/physician Maimonides said 800 years ago, “Any illness that can be treated by diet alone should be treated by no other means.” (His most famous quote is, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” He also said, “You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes,” but nobody remembers that. Note to self: Learn more about Maimonides.)
Sometimes it’s easy to cut out high-calorie foods: I don’t eat sugar because it makes me crazy, and Widdle does not want a crazy wife. Potatoes, pasta, rice and bread put me in a coma, which is fine at 9 p.m. but not so good driving the Crosstown at 2 p.m. I mainly eat a lot of popcorn, soy burgers, salmon and broccoli.
Weight loss in a nutshell is: Eat less, move more. And remember, you can’t outrun a bad diet.
If you’re trying to kick refined sugar, here’s an easy peanut butter cup recipe (with no chocolate involved): Place six paper or foil cupcake liners on a cookie sheet. Combine ½ cup coconut oil, ½ cup local honey and 1 cup peanut butter in large measuring cup with spout. Nuke for 45 seconds; stir until smooth. Pour into cupcake liners; pop cookie sheet into fridge until cups are firm. (Adding a few chopped walnuts puts it over the top.)
I’m not going to lie: I eat two or three before they harden.
Julie R. Smith, who never met a carb she didn’t like, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.