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Don't DietBy Matt Stone

Don’t diet. Yes it’s bad for you and slows down your metabolism and worsens your mood and does heinous things to your body in a variety of ways. That’s not what this is about. I’m talking about it being unrealistic. If you think you can just go hungry and will away all your cravings, keep it up forever, and not return to eating what you want when you’re hungry in the face of ever-escalating hunger… Well, you’re just kidding yourself. You’re simply red. And by simply red I mean if you don’t know ME by now, you will never never never know ME. Did you just meet yourself yesterday? Don’t you know what you do when you get hungry and how doomed of a strategy dieting is?

My girlfriend’s parents recently embarked on a diet. 1,500 calories per day for him, 1,200 calories per day for her. They are very much the inspiration for this post. And they have been the catalyst to a great deal of laughter over the last couple of weeks. They came over for dinner the other day about 2 weeks into their starvation quest. I was excited to feed them because I know her dad loves to eat (never seen him eat less than 1500 at a meal, much less in a whole day), they already rave about my food, and I knew with their heightened hunger that I would win them over for life.

As I was getting things finished up in the kitchen, pops says,

“Man this diet sucks. I can’t eat anything. The other day I went to eat some peanuts and could only have 12. 12 peanuts!”

This was almost as funny as the fight they had the other day about Klondike bars…

“Mark you can’t eat that. It has too many calories.”

“Missy I got 500 calories left for the day AT LEAST. These are 250. I can have two uv um if I want.”

Anyway, as expected, in their heightened state of food arousal, they sat down to the table and went nuts. It played out just like studies on restricted food eating show. Once a dieter reaches a certain point and they feel their diet is blown, they will then REALLY start pigging out. Pops was the funniest. I served him up a breast and a leg. 5 minutes later…

“Hey, could you get me another piece of chicken?”

“White meat or dark?”

“I don’t care, just something with skin on it. Don’t give me anything that doesn’t have the skin on it.”

From Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch…

“One of the classic studies involved fifty-seven female college students at Northwestern University.  The students were led to believe that the goal of the study was to evaluate the taste of several ice cream samples.  The actual purpose of the study was to determine how diet thinking might affect eating after drinking milkshakes.  The women were arbitrarily divided into three groups based on the number of eight-ounce milkshakes given (none, one, and two shakes).  After drinking the shakes, the subjects were asked to taste and rate three flavors of ice cream.  They were allowed to eat as much ice cream as they wanted and ‘taste-tested’ in private to guard against self-consciousness.  The researchers saw to it that ample ice cream was provided so that substantial amounts could be eaten without making an appreciable dent in the supply!

Here’s what happened.  The nondieters naturally regulated their eating; they ate less ice cream in proportion to the amount of milkshakes consumed.  The dieters, however, displayed a dramatic opposite behavior.  Those who drank two milkshakes ate the most ice cream – a ‘counterregulation’ effect.  The researchers concluded that forcing the dieters to overeat or ‘blow their diet’ caused them to release their food inhibitions.  With inhibition banished, restraint was eliminated and the dieters overate the ice cream.”  

He kept nibbling. Finally, he grabbed a whole carcass himself (instead of being served) and picked the thing completely clean. Dude ate a whole chicken. Don’t get me wrong, it was really good chicken by any standards, a dry-rubbed young chicken, smoked whole for 2 hours over mesquite, and turned frequently for sort of a rotisserie effect. But that starve and binge merry-go-round has certainly set in.

But the most incredible part of it all, is what pops said just as he was leaving…

“Oh yeah, this is going to be great. We’ll starve ourselves and lose the weight and then gain it back in 3 months plus an extra 10 pounds. Then I’ll just be 210 instead of 200. Yeah, that’ll be great. That’s how it works doesn’t it?”

From obesity scholar Robert Pool…

“There was just one problem with this straightforward approach to weight loss: it didn’t work.  When put on a diet, some patients would take off some weight – ten, twenty, perhaps even fifty or more pounds – but it wouldn’t stay off.  Almost inevitably the pounds would come back, often bringing some friends with them.”

Johnny Football AlabamaHe gets it. You don’t have to be an obesity scholar or top researcher on the subject to understand how unreasonable, unrealistic, and doomed the simple dieting approach to weight loss really is. In fact, no disrespect to pops, but the dude can’t even read. Just 2 weeks ago we helped him to use Google for the very first time in his life using Google voice search. He’s so unscholarly that when I told him my niece will be starting school at Alabama this fall, all he had to say was “That’s a hell of a football team.” That is true, but I have a strong feeling they won’t look very good September 14th.

Know thyself. If you are doing something that “sucks” to lose weight, it’s not going to work out in the end. It’s probably going to backfire. Give up immediately before you do real harm.

The tragic thing about this particular situation is that my girlfriend’s parents are not very overweight at all, and are nearing 60 years of age. I just don’t know what the hell they think they’re going to get out of this. Hot? Don’t think so. Healthy? Hmmm. If you call losing muscle mass, increasing cortisol, and decreasing DHEA, testosterone, etc. healthy then I guess so.

But it has been entertaining, and my meals are hitting the jackpot in brownie points. For that, I am thankful.