Dieting In America
By Scott Anthony
I was hungry. I had a meeting at 12:30, and not wanting to go there with sunken cheeks and a too-tight belt, I pulled into Blimpee’s for a quick bite. I cruised the brightly lit menu overhead.
It’s gotten to the point in this country that you cannot find a fast food outlet that doesn’t offer some sort of reduced-calorie, low-carbohydrate meal. Not that I’m upset about this. While I’ve had my share of fat-soaked burgers and starchy, oil laden french fries, I’m supportive of the practice of healthy eating and I try to stick with it. A new study by online market research firm ‘InsightExpress’ shows that half of Americans who've tried low-carb diets have given them up. The survey shows that only one in 10 of us are on low carb diets, and the trend is down, not up.
I spied the Baja Turkey & Cheese Sandwich with southwestern chipotle sauce: 8 net effective carbs. Net effective?…don’t ask me, I’m just there to fill the hollow in my mid-section. But I asked the nice girl behind the counter anyway.
“I’m not sure…but it’s served on 7 grain, low-carb onion bread…do you want to try it?” she smiled, sweet as honey mustard.
Good enough for me. As she expertly created the sandwich, I wondered how we got to this stage. Dieting is as American as apple pie, and as long as it’s low-fat, low-carb, apple pie, the order seems to be, ‘make mine a double’.
In the United States, obesity has risen at an epidemic rate during the past 20 years, largely resulting from an energy imbalance, simply from eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity.
From a report at CNN.Com, " The issue is we need to burn more carbohydrates -- more physical activity -- and eat less," says Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. "The better option would be a smaller burger, maybe less often, and still have it on a bun so you control the calories and the fat."
Over the years, modern Americans have suffered through one bizarre diet fad after the next, the ones with catchy names being the most popular: The Scarsdale, the Caveman, the Grapefruit, Cabbage, 3 Day, Southbeach, and Russian Air Force diets, most of these are based on controlled portions, with emphasis on particular combinations and times of day. Truth be told, any of these diets seem to help people lose weight, but keeping it off has always been the real trick. And continuing studies also indicate that ‘yo-yo’ dieting is terribly hard on our bodies, especially for women.
Recently, researchers at Fred Hutch in Seattle measured the effectiveness of natural killer cells, which attack viruses and cancers, in a study of 114 obese, sedentary women ages 50 to 75. Each woman was asked how many times she had taken off at least 10 pounds in the previous two decades.
Among women who had lost weight at least five times, natural killer cell function dropped 30 percent, the researchers reported. These immune cells are part of the body's complex defense against illness and infection. Mrs. Anthony knows about this. She is an ‘exercise person’ and has maintained her girlishness well, only binging on organic chocolate about once a month.
My own personal plan has been that if you eat something and no one sees you eat it, it has no calories. Fortunately, I have Her to keep an eye on me and the moment I begin to appear a little too ‘kingly’, she increases our dog-walking times.
And speaking of kings, even they sometimes struggle with their weight. Way back in the year 1087, William the Conqueror (who became King of England after his success at the Battle of Hastings) found he could no longer ride his horse because he was too fat. He reportedly refused to get out of bed, and began drinking alcohol instead of eating food in an attempt to lose weight. (Good plan Bill..) It seemed to work for a while, but eventually the King grew even fatter and died that same year from injuries he suffered when his horse fell. The King may have been off the wagon, but at least he was still horsing around.