Counting peanuts, and other torments

by Ken Carpenter

Well, spring is here and along with the good comes the bad. It’s diet time again. After being perfectly content to blob around all winter getting rounder by the day, the weather gets nice and all of a sudden I turn into a lunatic. I don’t know how else to explain an otherwise almost sane man counting peanuts before he eats them.
Twenty peanuts per day are all I’m allowed, and one measly teaspoon of peanut butter. You don’t know the definition of pitiful until you have watched somebody take ten minutes to lick a spoon of peanut butter to death. And twenty peanuts is about one good mouthful to most folks.
It is called the South Beach Diet, probably because somebody drowned himself after being deprived of pastries for too long. It’s only been two weeks, and while I am not suicidal yet, I would happily strangle the next person who eats pizza in front of me.
I shouldn’t whine too much, I have already melted off eight and 5/8 pounds and my wife has almost doubled that. It doesn’t seem totally fair, but last year I was the one who lost twice as much and I didn’t complain then.
Americans spend 50 billion dollars a year on diet related products, and we are still the fattest country in the world. Supposedly 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet of some kind on any given day. I think some of them are the pizza and beer type diets though.
The earliest recorded instance of someone depriving himself of food in order to lose weight was in the year 1087. William the Conqueror, the King of England, discovered that he could no longer ride a horse because he had put on too many pounds. This was a revolting situation to a fighting man, so he refused to get out of bed and went on an all alcohol diet. Details are sketchy, but later that same year he died from injuries suffered in a fall from his horse so something caused him to skinny up a bit. Perhaps he should have skipped the alcohol when he was riding though.
For thousands of years humans just had to be happy they had anything to eat, then rich people were invented and the first overweight folks made their appearance. Things have evened out now, because there are probably more bulky poor than there are rich, probably because diets can be expensive.
There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of diet plans in the last couple hundred years. Many of them are just a case of the bland leading the bland, many more do little more than try to get your money, but there are successes as well.
The low carbohydrate diet, which seemed to come out of nowhere a few years ago, has been around so long that an Englishman wrote a book recommending it in 1862. It was the only way he had found to lose weight, and oddly enough his ear doctor told him about it. When the book came out some readers told him that his diet plan was “as old as the hills”, so my low carb South Beach diet is not as revolutionary as it thinks.
One of the oddest dietary systems was one dedicated to losing pounds through chewing. You were supposed to chew every bite at least 32 times, and preferably until it turned to liquid. My jaws ache just to think about it. The proponent of it was known as the Great Masticator, and his real name is unimportant.
Well, it is just about time for my daily spoon of peanut butter. I have been savoring the thought all day.
I’d kill for a little jelly to go with it.

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