I read recently that the latest studies have cast doubt on the benefits of the low-carb diet. A group of people consuming a high-protein, low-carb diet lost no more weight than the control group consuming a normal diet.
This doesn't surprise me. I've been around long enough to see the Atkins Diet, the Gluten Free diet, the South Beach diet, the Mediterranean diet, the Paleo diet, and a hundred others come and go. But . . . my diet works, guaranteed. It's called the Do-Everything-But-Eat-It diet. You just follow these principles . . . and don't worry about what anyone else thinks.
Honest spillage. So the way I got the idea for this diet is by looking down at my shirt and pants the other evening during dinner. I thought I dropped some spaghetti sauce off my fork. Oops, there it is on my sleeve! Next to a bit of egg that somehow found its way there at breakfast. And low and behold, there was some other unidentified stain on my pants . . . maybe from the French fries last night. The dietary lesson? If you spill, drop or otherwise lose 5 to 10 percent of your meal, you have not made a mess. You have cut your calorie intake by 5 to 10 percent!
A corollary of this technique is to be more discriminating when it comes to leftovers. I swear, B (who, by the way, is thinner than I am, but how she does it I'll never know) will eat a plate of food that's been moldering in the refrigerator for a full week. And she eats leftover pizza. Leftover pizza! Yuck! Just . . . don't . . . go . . . there.
Serious competition. I grew up as the youngest in a family of four kids. I had some serious competition for the mashed potatoes, not so much for the cauliflower. So I developed a taste for the vegetables that nobody else wanted.
Later on, I would watch people with kids eating in a restaurant. The kids would order a meal, eat about half of it -- and then the dad got the rest. This seemed like a good deal . . . for the dad. So I talked to my wife, and we agreed to have kids. The result? Sure, I gained a little weight. But my kids never got fat.
However, now the shoe is on the other foot. B and I go out to dinner. Do you want any dessert? asks the waiter. Yeah, I'll have that caramel sundae, says I. Oh, nothing for me, B demurs, just an extra spoon. Well, you can see where this is going. I order dessert, B eats the lion's share of it. And I retain my thin, youthful appearance.
Inedible meals. The other night B and I went to a fancy restaurant in Charleston. It's been on TV. Cost way too much money. I figured I ought to be a little adventuresome so I ordered the quail, with collard greens and a side of lettuce wrapped pig's ears. I felt very sophisticated. However, the meal was absolutely inedible. The dinner maxed out my credit card. But I consumed less than a hundred calories that evening.
Similarly, B has a couple of favorite dishes she likes to cook. The other night she fried up some sausage (okay so far), but then in another pan she made broccoli rabe, which is like spinach, only worse. Then she throws it all together with little curly pasta that's impossible to fork up from the plate. So the stuff tastes awful, but even if you did want to eat it, you can't possibly transport it from the plate to your mouth.
But B likes it. I don't know why. She scarfs down the whole thing; looks at me and smiles. I know you don't like this dinner, she says, so thanks for indulging me. Sure, I went to bed hungry. But who cares if you're hungry when you're asleep?
The lesson: As long as you're served food that you don't like, you'll never get fat!
Play with your food. To give credit where credit's due, I got this technique from my daughter. Back when she was a teenager, and becoming a vegetarian (a religion she later gave up), she would lift her chicken breast off the plate, let it hang there dripping over the table, and then start waving it around, complaining in a pained and exasperated voice: How can you ask me to eat dead animals? That's so gross!
Of course, this kind of behavior, expected from a teenager, is not really acceptable for a grown man. So I use another technique, also inspired by my kids. When they were young, they could never sit still through an entire meal. It was up to me to entertain them -- push away from the table, walk them around, find something else for them to do for a little while.
So now, many years later, I find that I, myself, can no longer sit through an entire meal either. To this day, halfway through a meal, I find myself getting up from the table and taking a little walk around the house. I come back. The table is cleared. Hey, I wasn't finished with my supper! But it's too late. The dishes are cleared. Oh well, I realize, I wasn't hungry anymore, anyway.
One last hint, under the heading of play with your food. Order lobster, or mussels, or artichokes. You actually use up more calories fighting for the food than you take in by eating it.