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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Diets: A look at the Past and Present

Different diet trends have been around a long time. As long as Kellogg’s cereals, and probably long before that. Cereal (one of my all time favorite foods) was invented to help people lower their protein and fat intake. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and Horace Fletcher persuaded Americans to increase carbohydrates and decrease protein and fat intake to increase their health (this was long before the American Obesity Epidemic), to avoid masturbation and the proliferation of toxic bacteria in their colons (did you know cereal could do all of that?).

At the sanitarium Dr. Kellogg operated, patients paid a LOT of money to be subjected to hourly yogurt enemas and receive electrical stimulation that provided “massive vibration” of the abdomen. Patients participated in grape only diets (up to 12 pounds per day), and chewed mouthfuls of food 100 times per bite. Sounds odd, a little bit crazy, and a like a diet you would avoid? Not so in those times…both John D. Rockefeller and Theodore Roosevelt participated.

Things haven’t changed all that much today. Jennifer Anniston was the unofficial spokesperson for Atkins, Beyonce used a “cleanse” before Dream Girls that included mixing an elixir of maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper to the exclusion of other foods.
There is or has been the Banana Diet, the Cabbage Soup diet, the High Protein diet, Low Fat diet, Carbohydrate Only diet, Low Sugar, Anti Aging, and Weekend Only diet. There are soups, shakes, bars, cookies and colon cleansing enemas that can help you lose 10 pounds in an hour. There are liposuctions, lap bands and sweat suits to make you really sweat. The list is endless.

Before you embark on any weight loss effort, make sure to evaluate the plan completely. If it strays one hair from common sense, promises to help you lose 10 pounds by your reunion, limits the type of food that you can eat, recommends avoiding solids, labels a food group as “bad” or is something you won’t be able to maintain for the rest of your life, put the diet away. It isn’t for you. It isn’t healthy and can end up doing more damage than good.

Here is one last question to ask about any diet. Who is behind the diet, and why do they want you to do it? Is someone pushing an agenda (think Kelloggs)? Can they make a lot of money if you participate?

For the healthiest daily diet, that you can live with throughout every day (and midnight craving), think about Michael Pollan’s words “Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants.”

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