My kids love watching food shows on TV. The hot show for all 3 of them right now is Chopped, a food version of The Apprentice. Two contestants are given several food items (like a meat, a spice, a vegetable, and a fruit), and are asked to create a 3 course meal with these items as the primary ingredients. A panel of taste experts (not sure how you land that gig) then rates the dishes on presentation, taste, and creativity. The winning chef gets $10,000. The loser gets “chopped”. Clever, huh? (Or should I say “Cleaver, huh?). Cooking shows have come a long way since Dan Aykroyd did his iconic Julia Child spoof on SNL.
All 3 of my kids seem very interested in exotic foods and their preparation for a group that thinks Chipotle is 5-star dining. They’ve never been to a restaurant that doesn’t provide crayons with the menus, but they know how to prepare seared mahi-mahi and mango chutney. How ironic that my relationship with food is getting simpler just when theirs is getting more complex. That figures. As an infant, there are a variety of foods you can’t eat. Your body isn’t prepared to process them. On the back end of life’s bell curve, the process of selective dieting begins anew. So here I am.
I recently revisited the South Beach Diet as part of my New Year’s do over. I have used the 3 phase diet program twice before, with very positive results. It is easy to follow, the food variety is palatable, and did I mention it worked? The ‘trick’, of course, if you could call it a trick, is to remain on the diet forever. In theory, that should not be too difficult. Avoid sugar. Stay away from white flour breads and pastas. Eat in moderation. Train your metabolism to burn fat through a change in diet. All very doable things, but it does require you to think about what you are eating. That’s the hard part. Eating without thinking is more fun, at least in the short term. In my long term, thinking about what I eat and how much is a must.
I am pretty thin, as many of you know. So for me, it isn’t so much a problem of ‘volume’ but of distribution. Gravity is unfortunately a law that we all have to live by. For my kids watching Chopped, Cupcakes Wars, Rachel Ray, and God knows what else on the Food Network, their problem is that eating has no negative consequences, unless you count running out of food as a consequence. I will miss those days, and I accept that they are gone. I am confident that there are new food tasting discoveries out there for me that will not keep me up at night, give me audible flatulence, or force me to shop exclusively for pants with elastic waistbands. I will embrace the gustational journey, and bring along a few Tums, just in case.
My own diet could be a reality TV show. “Watch Joe take on sugar and lactose for 30 minutes every Monday night at 8 PM. The winner extends his life expectancy by one month. The loser is forced to do TV commercials as the Pilsbury Dough Boy for the next year.”
It could be The Decision: “I’ve decided that I’m takin’ my talents to South Beach…the diet.”
As long as my diet doesn’t become the basis for an episode of House or CSI, I think I’ll be OK. I would NOT let my kids watch that.