Sunday, April 10, 2005

The American Diet Debacle

I know, I know, it’s been ages. I’ve had term papers to write, exams to take, a job to show up for, hot flashes to endure, dogs to walk, a murder to plan, someone else to frame for it, meals to prepare, a cute new haircut to access my inner Sharon Stone, a thesis to explore on The Age of Viagra v the Age of Romance about how the Age of Viagra has ruined art and poetry, in that so much classic art and poetry dealt with the desire for great passion and the humiliation of that great passion being... cut short...if you will…(okay I made that up – no one would approve that as a thesis, especially those taking Viagra)...frankly, I’m swamped...(okay let’s see how many of you get the hidden film reference)...

Speaking of meal preparation and the American culture of obsession with bizarre dieting - or bingeing and purging as a favorable alternative to healthy eating and exercise, my cousin Lillian decided one summer; the summer between junior and senior year in high school; to eat nothing but chicken. No other meats, fish, no vegetables, no fruit, pasta, potatoes, pizza, salad, dessert, chocolate, dinner rolls, bagels, cheese, cheese wiz, romaine lettuce, Velveeta processed cheese food, red cole slaw, nothing but chicken. Initially she lost some weight, which could be considered a good thing. She had always been what we liked to call a “big healthy girl,” but then after a few weeks of the chicken diet, she started to smell a little funny. Her skin took on this pasty kind of look. She started developing a white chalky substance in the creases of her arms and behind her knees and ears that was rather disturbing and disgusting. She began having really bizarre mood swings which we could only attribute to being a bi-product of her limited diet. We figured out that over the three-month summer vacation prior to senior year she consumed approximately 10,000 chickens. I know that seems like quite a lot, and an impossibility in only a three-month period of time, but I assure you that it is quite possible, in that much of the chicken she purchased came from fast food establishments, well known for fusing and compressing large quantities of chicken into miniscule bite size nuggets. I’ve never been able to truly enjoy a chicken dish without gagging since that summer.

Okay, I made all that up. I have no cousin named Lillian. My family is wacky but we have our limits. I do actually know a woman who decided to eat nothing but corn or corn based foods for an extended period of time. I remember wishing her luck with it, and expressing the notion that perhaps it would be a good time to place some classic literature in her bathroom, since she might be spending more time in there. Americans can be pretty madcap and zany about their weight loss ideas. The weight loss industry and the next big thing diet has become quite arguably the multi-billion dollar industry contributing to our gross national product that best exemplifies the American Dream. Where else can the snake oil salesman, in this instance, one with a degree at the end of his/her name, write one book that sells billions of copies to billions of people - the best seller status launching an entire merchandising industry to that person’s book, a la internet diet plans based upon the book, high end spas using that best selling diet as a meal plan used by their author who achieves the kind of guru status and adoration that only a religious leader would have in any other country...yet most of the time the book is a re-wording of the virtues of the food pyramid and the value of physical exercise, or something so unhealthy that extended use prompts the need for removal of an internal organ. Whichever it is, the book gets enthusiasm from the buyer for a couple weeks, only to return to the shelf with the other diet books - and the person that bought the book goes back to potato chips and re-runs of Law and Order while the rest of the world wonders why we're so weird.

In the 80’s I think we were naturally thin from all the readily available cocaine.


Blogger Jet said...

Ohhhh, how lovely. A Millicent fix. Life has brightened!

A corn only diet? Hey everyone, I'm trying the Pellagra diet. I'll be wearing gloves soon!

I'm amazed how ardently we respond to the latest diet fad. We must all just hate ourselves. Thanks a lot, marketers of America. I hope you spend your time in hell as a chronically obese person. Yeah, that'll work.

10 April, 2005 13:45  
Blogger Laura said...

Are you SURE you didn't have a cousin Lillian that ate only chicken? Because I feel like I remember her. I even remember seeing that white chalky substance in her elbow creases and wondering what it was. I remember thinking she had put Desitin there, like maybe she'd had a rash that needed a little ointment. Did you really just make her up? She seems so REAL to me, just thinking about her I can smell that faint chickeny-rotten egg smell that used to waft from her so fetchingly. Lillian, Lillian, wherefore art thou Lillian? Were you really just a dream?

Yeah, dieting sucks. So does the alternative, so where does that leave me?

10 April, 2005 19:27  
Blogger Whymrhymer said...


Glad to see you taking a break from life (and planning hits) to blog a bit.

I've been pretty busy myself lately working on my new book: "The New Chocolate Ice Cream Diet Guide." Hey! A guy's gotta make a buck!

10 April, 2005 19:52  
Blogger She-Who-Reads said...

Yeah, our attitude towards dieting in this country is insane. Let's all eat crazy, unhealthy stuff in the name of looking good! Yeah, that makes sense. Not!

Also, I loved your hidden film reference. " wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped!" Princess Bride rocks! And so do you!

11 April, 2005 20:37  
Blogger I.M. Dedd said...

Man, do we have a psychic connection or WHAT??? I have a made up cousin who only ate chicken for several months, too!!! I can't believe it.

12 April, 2005 13:14  
Blogger R said...

So does that make you and IM Dedd "pretend cousins thrice removed"?!! I don't get how we have this skinny facination..yet we are the most obese group of people on the planet. What?! People should read "Natural cures 'they' don't want you to know about" by Kevin Trudeau. That should scare everyone off the potato chips for life. Glad your back!! I've missed the milli! Awesome blog.

12 April, 2005 14:56  
Blogger frstlymil said...

Jet - I had to look up Pellagra. Ew.
Laura - Okay, you caught me - maybe I just WANT her to be made up because a reality with cousin Lillian is too much to bear
Whymrhymer - If you can get a chocolate ice cream faze going to get the U.S. off the Low Carb insanity that's resulting in Gall Bladders being removed across the country, yeeHAW!
She-Who-Reads - YOU WIN!!!!!! Yup, It's The Princess Bride. I haven't decided WHAT you win yet, but there will be humiliation, waxed paper and duct tape involved.
I.M. Dedd. - I KNEW there was a reason I liked you aside from your wicked funny comic strip. We're related!
Rhonda - Kevin Trudeau's book sounds like a must read! (anything to keep me from math homework)

13 April, 2005 16:01  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

Fantastic read, as usual!

I follow a gluten-free diet for Life, due to gluten intolerance (NO wheat, barley, rye nor oats). I read all food labels and I tell ya, they can be scary! I figure, if it's unpronounceable and sounds like a chemical, it probably doesn't belong in one's mouth.

In her quest for thinness a friend said to me: "All you have to do is eat wheat and you'll lose weight?! That's awesome!"

Just a small matter that it would make me ill, cause damage to my intestines, and then I can't absorb nutrients...

Where has common sense gone? It seems like a no-brainer. Key elements of healthy weight management are a diet of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, modest amounts of protein and dairy, occasional splurges on snacks, and frequent EXERCISE!

On another note, I recommend this book to Every Woman, no matter what age (because sooner or later you'll be there):
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Hormone Balance
by John R. Lee & Virginia Hopkins________________________

It opened my eyes and I want to share. If you have questions, this book has answers. Read It!

17 April, 2005 16:04  
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01 October, 2005 16:25  

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