Junk the junk

by Yule Heibel on October 31, 2003

I don’t diet but I have to weigh in here (excuse the bad pun). Never have dieted and never will; what I used to do is called anorexia, and I don’t do it anymore because somehow the idea of keeping my internal organs intact began to seem like a good idea. However. I realize that there are many people out there who are dieting, and some are even blogging it: Frank, and Shelley, and now Doug documented or ruminated dieting deeds and thoughts. These are just the sane rational people writing about this, but there are of course countless others who have picked up on a fad diet. And that is so uncool. Hence I feel compelled to put a plug in for The G.I. Diet by Rick Gallop, which he based on the work of Toronto dietician David Jenkins. As the website explains, the G.I. (stands for “glycemic index”) “measures the speed at which foods are broken down by the body to form glucose, the body’s source of energy. High G.I. foods break down quickly and leave you looking for the next food fix. Low G. I. foods break down more slowly and leave you feeling fuller, longer. It is these low G.I. foods that form the core of the diet.” What do I know about this if I don’t need it? Someone in my house has lost lots of pounds since starting this diet a while ago on the recommendation of his cardiologist. And he significantly dropped his blood pressure. And he did it nearly effortlessly because this isn’t even really a diet. Among diet fads, the one that gets the booby prize in my opinion is the Atkins diet; also, diets that launch their victims on a deprivation juggernaut (tell me in a year or 5 whether you’re still doing it, eh?) rouse my suspicions (remember, I’m an ex-anorexic, haha). Wouldn’t it be great to know about a plan you can actually adopt for life, without turning into a moonie or cultist? I’m convinced that Americans — the fattest people ever to have roamed the planet Earth — don’t know about the G.I. Diet because (1) it doesn’t support just a single aspect of industrial food production (as does Atkins with its emphasis on beef & animal products consumption); (2) it doesn’t come with a line of products that you’re supposed to buy along with the how-to book, i.e., there are no tie-ins, because this is based on common sense and on unprocessed, unrefined foods (unlike the Weight Watchers meals, eg., which undoubtedly burn a hole in your wallet); and (3) Gallop’s book suffers from the NIH syndrome. That stands for “not invented here” and speaks to the staggering insularity and provincialism that often mars American culture. Since it’s in many ways an anti-food industry “diet” (it has to be, since the food industry is actively making us sicker and fatter, and this diet instead has the backing of the medical community) you can kiss a lot of lower-end restaurant fare good-bye, and forget fast food forever. But this is a normal way of eating, and it works for vegetarians as well as omnivores. Once you adopt it, though, you’ll be amazed at how much junky stuff you’ve been relying on. And whose fault is that? The industrial food production industry. They need you to stay this way, and all those unhealthy fatties that grow out of that culture are made to keep running to every new fad that comes along, with the industry providing a new product to “help” them. Finally, I believe that there’s a class issue here, too, similar to one I see around smoking. Upper middle-class educated people typically have given up smoking: it’s some kind of status thing. But poor people still smoke a lot even though they can least afford it. Perhaps they do it because they like it or because they are impervious to the delusions of “self-improvement” pursued by the rich; they are only susceptible to the crappy opium of mass media which relentlessly tells them to kill themselves or try to imitate Barbie. I base this opinionated assertion on personal observation of various neighbourhoods, milieus, and especially entrances to shopping malls located in upscale vs downscale areas, and counting the butts on the ground there. Re. the crappy opium: who can blame anyone for falling for the shiny things? We’re all like crows swooping down in that regard. Back to class. Right now, obesity runs across the class spectrum, but perhaps one day fairly soon, the miniscule strata of middle-to-upper-middle class people left over after corporatist fascism’s raid on this culture — which will leave behind a broad swathe of impoverished folk — will emerge thinned not only in rank but also in bulk. Its members will mostly be nice ‘n slim, while the vast majority of people, who are poor, will continue to get fatter and fatter and more and more diseased. (Except for the New Agey dropouts who pursued “self-realization” because they couldn’t afford the rich man’s “self-improvement”: they’ll be thin, too, and that’s where the wealthy will meet the whacky. No offense, I generally like whacky.) The consequences are rolled over to the public as health care costs etc., and the public will largely consist of these same poor people desperately trying to scrape together enough money for the medical care they require because they got too fat and hence developed preventable diseases, while the corporations will rake in the profits from all the crap they’ve been selling. So here you have it: buy this book and eat according to its precepts, and you’ll help bring about the revolution: the death of industrial food production. It’s up to you.


Joel November 2, 2003 at 2:11 am

When peasants worked in the fields, the gentry took care to stay out of the sun so that they wouldn’t be tanned. When peasants became pale factory workers, the gentry donned bikinis and toasted themselves until they became nut brown.

Yule Heibel November 2, 2003 at 9:34 pm

Yup, and who was the socialite around mid-20th century whose famous line was “you can never be too rich or too thin”?

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