Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of diet trends come and go, much like the extra weight on my derriere. (Actually, now that I think about it, it hasn’t actually left…)
There is, for example, the cabbage soup diet, which basically involves eating cabbage soup for ages, until you begin seriously contemplating a career as a rabbit or defecting to North Korea. Then there’s the grapefruit diet, which may work only because it gives you such an acid stomach that you can’t face eating anything. And who could forget the egg diet, which, after three weeks, has adherents contemplating such philosophical questions as “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” and “Would I go to jail for killing the next person who offers me something egg-based?”
Then there’s the Atkins diet, which is one of many that advocates a higher protein, lower carbohydrate menu plan. As fads go, this one is surprisingly enduring — so much so that a group in Britain has commissioned a study to check the safety of following it long term. Meanwhile, British beef producers, who are only just now recovering from the whole mad cow fiasco, have issued the following statement on the study: “Shutupshutupshutup!”
Indeed, the diet has proved so popular that some restaurants have “Atkins friendly” menu choices. This has me a bit worried, in this day and age of “you’re either with us or against us.” What happens if you’re not “Atkins friendly?” The social implications are fairly staggering – consider how this complicates a dinner party: You can arrange the seating so well that everyone has an appropriate conversational partner; you can pick the perfect wine to complement the entrée. But what will everyone be whispering to each other in shocked tones? “Did she just serve -gasp- buns?!”
The economic changes are also fairly severe. Producers of carbohydrate foods, like bread or orange juice, have suffered financially, because consumption is down. And, since junk food is notoriously high in carbohydrates, it won’t be long before some opportunist does something silly, like sue McDonald’s for not warning people that a diet of soda and French fries is bad for your health. Hang on a minute…
On the other side of the scale, with Atkins branded chocolate bars and breakfast drinks flying off the shelves, it’s clear someone is making a great deal of money from the diet. Sadly, it is not the founder of the diet, who passed away last year. Normally I would be concerned about this, but the man was in his seventies. And anyway, the website assures me that the Atkins Nutritional Approach, which is so scientific it warrants capital letters and a trademark, provides more minerals and vitamins than the typical American diet. Of course, this isn’t too difficult, as the typical American diet consists of spray cheese and Budweiser.
Indeed, any diet that gets lots of people thinking seriously about what they put in their mouths has to be beneficial. And obesity is a serious issue in the Western world, so much so that scientists are issuing press releases warning of the dangers, which include: a shortage of elevator cabling as office towers have to double reinforce their systems; Florida breaking off and sliding into the ocean; and the Earth developing a serious wobble in its orbit because of the imbalance in weight distribution.
For now though, I’m off to enjoy a baked potato topped with beans and a side of pasta. Hey, someone has to keep the other side of the economy going.
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