Oh, how the merchandisers of media have us pegged.
Sure, it’s the holiday season, time to eat, drink and be merry. But tomorrow, we diet.
And waiting for us, when we’re at our most vulnerable, will be a new crop of diet books. However sensible or cockeyed their advice may be, they offer a window into some of our current food obsessions and health anxieties. Here’s a sampling of advance copies of books stuffed into my mailbox lately.
▪ “The Adrenal Reset Diet” by a naturopathic physician named a top doctor by Phoenix magazine. The latest of our organs to be taken to the woodshed for causing our maladies and weight gain are our beleaguered adrenal glands.
The book claims our bad diets, environmental pollution and hectic lifestyles make our adrenals squeeze out too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which promotes weight gain. Diet enemies are sugar, wheat, dairy and eggs. Included is advice for wearing wet socks, alternate nostril breathing and detoxification, which, it turns out, is not so simple as a daily bowel movement.
▪ “The Skinny Jeans Diet” by a Columbia University-educated dietitian who says she lost 50 pounds and dropped four jeans sizes. She compares appetizing empty-calorie foods to a bad boyfriend that dieters just must quit. “Breaking it off with the suave Mr. Chips Ahoy! or that handsome Hershey’s Kiss is never easy. They call and you answer without fail — every single time.”
The diet advice seems reasonable: Lots of dark green, leafy vegetables and lean protein, but there’s heavy reliance on low-fat and low-calorie versions of foods. And while the book is clearly aimed at single women, its diet plan includes recalibrations for men. That seems only fair: men can have bad boyfriends and want to slip into skinny jeans, too.
▪ “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet” by a macrobiotics expert who guided a doctor to recovery from terminal prostate cancer. The diet centers on whole grains and beans and vegetables, but fish is allowed a few times a week. And you can eat organic pasta occasionally and sourdough bread, too, and use maple syrup in desserts. OK, and you can also have a cup of black coffee from time to time, or a glass of wine, or a beer, as long as it’s micro-brewed.
The book includes testimonials from people whose cancer, chronic fatigue and infertility were alleviated by macrobiotics. There’s also a legal-sounding disclaimer: “The information contained in this book is intended solely to provide guidance ... If you suspect that you have a medical problem, we urge you to seek competent medical help ...”
And maybe something more than brown rice and broccoli.