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Coming to a fork in the road — to diet or not to diet

September 30, 2011

The first thing I do each morning before I get out of bed is to decide which diet I will be on for the next 24 hours. I get bored easily, and I’ve been known to switch from one diet to another in the course of one day.
I might start off with eggs and bacon a la the notorious Atkins plan, then begin craving some French fries. So I scoot on over to Weight Watchers and count points for a couple of hours. By supper time, I feel like such a failure. I’ll just eat a half jar of peanut butter, go to bed and dream of being chased by a giant head of lettuce. 
I’ve fasted for 24 hours, only to end the fast with an entire bag of Chips Ahoy.
My dieting repertoire includes Sugar Busters, South Beach, Sonoma, Scarsdale, and Summersized – you’ll note they all begin with the letter “S” for “snookered.” Most of the programs vilify anything white such as sugar, flour, potatoes and rice.  
Wonder what would happen if we ate nothing but the white stuff. I could make a fortune with my plan and write a best seller called “White on Rice.”  
So how’s all this “dieting” working for me? You be the judge. During each week since June I’ve lost a minimum of two pounds per week for a whopping total of 40 pounds.  Unfortunately, my dress size has remained the same since I gained 2.25 pounds each week, or 41 pounds during that same period.
You do the math, because obviously I can’t. 
Today, I reached a fork in the road. To diet or not to diet, that is the question. My dismal results have me wondering if I would have done any worse by just eating normally.
I just don’t know what “normal” looks like, since I’ve been on a diet practically my entire life. My mother claims I was a picky eater as a young child, but the day some genius merged chocolate and peanut butter, I was a goner.
I remember sitting on my front porch steps as an awkward 12-year old, drinking Metrecal. Do y’all remember that vile stuff? It was the first “diet in a can” to hit the stores. It tasted like the chalky cocktail you drink before having a colonoscopy.
Then, along came Figurines, a sort of cookie that tasted like paper Mache with a squirt of cyclamates. It was one of the most heinous foods ever foisted on a hungry human. It rates right up there with Hollywood Diet Bread. It was bread sliced to the thickness of 1/8th inch and cut the size of a graham cracker square.
I remember seeing Mother chop up small white mushrooms, and adding a little soy sauce (sodium had not yet been demonized). She baked them until they shriveled up to nothing. This particular treat was called “popcorn”. Yeah, right.
Next came the grapefruit juice diet. It was all the rage back in the 60s. I drank so much grapefruit I broke out in hives and lost some of the enamel off my teeth.
In college, we made a “diet soup” by boiling cabbage, green pepper, onion, celery and shredded carrots. No salt, just a beef or chicken bullion cube for flavor. “Studies” claimed it took more calories to digest than it contained in the first place. 
DIET has become the worst of all four-letter words in my vocabulary, and I’m sick of it. Besides, at my age I figure I need a few extra pounds to fill out the wrinkles.
Yogi Berry advises, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I’m taking the road less traveled and giving up the diet, and maybe even the fork." 

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers reaching retirement. She welcomes comments at

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