Old Resolutions for the New Year

diet_plans.jpgJanuary is the traditional month for new diets. I get kind of amused reading this week's Time magazine which chose 3 of the new diet books to review. The first one disallows wine, salt, sugar and artificial sweetener. The second forbids carbonated drinks, coffee, gassy foods including cabbage. The third forbids dairy, white rice, and processed foods. And the last one forbids volume. Eat anything you want but just choose small portions.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Why does every new diet start off by telling you what you cannot eat?

People have had problems with excess weight ever since mankind began to grow food. The hunters and gatherers weren't fat. They spent a lot of time just searching for food and were grateful for what they could find. And the game and berries they found also spent time searching for nourishment and water and didn't store fat either.

But that was then. This is now. We are besotted with food, drink, choices, and chance. What on earth can we do?

low-carb-diet.jpgDr. John Salerno of the Salerno Center in New York city has taught me that I can really indulge myself, eat fabulous foods and lose weight. I have, to date, lost 31 pounds. My blood sugars are now normal. My cholesterol has gone down. And I have not suffered one day.

I propose that you can treat your self to luxury foods, pates, smoked salmon, steaks, ham, shrimp. You're beginning to see a pattern here, right? High fat, high protein foods. Why would a person do that? Won't it clog your arteries? Haven't I read all the materials from main stream medicine that tell you NOT to eat fat? Entire careers have been built on this premise. Am I not paying attention? Dr. Salerno offers an alternate world view.

I myself used to be on the masthead of Cooking Light Magazine which made a very successful venture teaching people to take fat out of foods. Of course the dark secret in the test kitchen was that the so-called portions they recommended were laughable. A cake with 15 servings? Sure it looked good on the cover of the magazine. Sure, its nutritional numbers looked good. But everybody who worked on the recipe could joke that they'd eat 3 servings in a hurry. The whole notion was as flawed as Bernie Madoff's money making schemes.

fatdiet.jpgFat is good for you. Protein is good for you. I am not making this up.

Before South Beach, Before Atkins, there was a doctor in England named Richard Mackarness who wrote a book in the fifties called Eat Fat and Grow Slim. Now Dr. Mackarness was not basing his diet on some poppycock theory, but on solid science that went back as far as the nineteenth century when a mortician named William Banting, who was so fat he had to walk down the stairs backwards made a stunning discovery. With the help of a nineteenth century eye, ear, nose and throat doc, he figured out he could lose weight and eat all the fat he wanted to.

Because, mirable dictu, Banting discovered it wasn't fat that was his problem, but rather bread, sugar, beer, and potatoes.

Banting was a fashionable London mortician who actually made the coffin for the Duke of Wellington. Before he came upon his amazing discovery, he had tried a number of other remedies: Turkish baths, violent exercise, spa treatments, drastic punishing diets, and what they called purgation which sounds so awful we don't even want to go there. I suppose it's the equivalent of high colonics today which promise to drop 20 pounds in an hour. Ugh.

But eventually, he went to see this ear, nose and throat doctor named William Harvey who put him on a new diet. Within a year, he had lost all the weight he needed to, about 100 pounds, and much to his astonishment, Dr. Harvey's diet was pleasant and not the least painful.

banting-1.jpgSo this is how Banting became famous. He wrote his own little book which he called "Letter on Corpulence", published in 1864. He breakfasted on 4 or 5 ounces of beef, mutton, kidney, fish, bacon or cold meat. He had a little dry toast and a cup of tea. For lunch, he had 5 to 6 ounces of fish except salmon (See everybody has to leave something out...) pork, meat, poultry and game. Any vegetable except potatoes, a little toast, a glass or two of claret or sherry and some fruit. For tea, he had 2-3 ounces of fruit, more tea and another piece of dry toast. By dinner, he ate again 3-4 ounces of meat washed down with more claret. For a night cap he took a shot of gin, whiskey or brandy.

And following this generous regimen, he did actually lose more than 100 pounds in a year. He was elated.

His diet was almost totally fatty meat, with some roughage and booze that helped him regain his youthful shape.

Now perhaps the most significant caveat about this diet is that it is meant for people who tend to gain weight. Not for those who have picked up a 10 pesky pounds.

But, in fact, after Dr. Salerno's Full Fat Fast, which lasts a couple weeks and jump starts your metabolism by restricting all carbs, you could easily go with the good mortician's diet and find yourself healthier, slimmer and sound for the coming year.

I am happy to report that I got through the holiday parties without gaining any weight. I didn't lose any but I didn't gain, and I pretty much stuck to Banting's suggestions. Yes, I did have bites of desserts often. I am addicted to sugar. And I downed a number of Manhattans.

But now it's the new year and for the first two weeks I'll stick to the full fat fast and know that I will not have to suffer, I will not have to shave off calories until I'm as mean as a snake. And I will continue with the weight loss plan that I started last year. I've lost 30 pounds and expect to lose 30 more.

Now, you'll have to excuse me. I'm going to stop and eat some luscious smoked salmon from Mackenzie, Ltd.com and some capers and a squeeze of lemon. What's not to love about that kind of diet?


One for the Table does not endorse any specific diet plans. Please consult with your healthcare professional before starting any weight loss regime.