The Smoke and Snake Urine Diet
The “science” of dieting has jerked the rug out from under me so many times it is a wonder I put any more faith in the Scientific Method than I might invest in a faith healer or for that matter, a blue heeler. However, if you follow the money, it is clearly not Sciences’ fault. Hallmark cards do not cause Christmas to occur thought their track record is nearly perfect. Hallmark did $3.5 billion in sales last year. Follow the money.
Maybe you will remember these dietary awakening and about-faces:
-Eggs the perfect food! Eggs will kill you! Eggs are good for you.
-Cigarettes calm and reduce appetites'. Cigarettes really will kill you!
Salt is delicious. Salt will cause your blood pressure to soar.
Crisco supplants butter. . Crisco causes heart disease. Colonel Sanders is Hitler’s godchild.
Milk the perfect drink. Milk, mucus-producing, allergenic and containing pus droplets.
A spoonful of sugar. . . Sugar causes inflammation (whatever that is). Aunt Jemima is an enteric assassin!
My lovely wife reminds me that “A fact is just something believed by a large group of privileged people at one point in history”. Most “facts” actually change a fair bit over our lifetimes. Can you say mootable?
So, with this depressing introduction I want to tell you a story of how I, an avowed diet cynic, took on a new diet. Sure, diet fads are at the cutting edge of snake oil salesmanship and reach back to Jack LaLanne (who actually had it mostly right) right up through Slimfast, Weight Watchers, Dexitrim (AKA speed), Adkins, Paleo, Raw Food, Plant-based vegan diets, The Zone, etc.
Most diets actually will help people lose weight, for a while. Some will add a lot of nutrition, some will change your body metabolic pathways, or promote eating disorders, or maybe goon you out with a Dexedrine addiction. Not many stand the test of time as our flabby facts roll in and out of fashion. One thing is assured though, any diet that is promoted has a link to someone else benefiting off of your desire to change your appearance. They might be sellin packaged meals, supplements, food processing equipment, your harvested email address, counseling, or at least a book to purchase. Too bad this has become an overriding and corrupting aspect.
I hate being duped almost as much as I dislike being told what to do. Some who know me might consider that an understatement. Thusly, I have eschewed diet recommendations my whole life, sometimes going the opposite direction out of spite. However, I don’t completely ignore friends who make un-hypocritical recommendations of eschewing (the WORST kind of chewing IMO) fruit or sugary drinks, alcohol, meat, and the gluten/grain/wheat family that cause inflammation (whatever that is). Some have lost impressively large amounts of weight, and cured all sorts of personal ills ranging from high blood pressure to skin lesions. Placebo or not, I can’t well argue with their hard metrics of success.
Last month while waiting for a bus, I picked up a book at one of those cute “Free mini-libraries” that generous enlightened folks erect to dispose of old volumes. It was entitled “Living the low-carb life” written by some self-promoting blowhard. It was written 20 years ago and I expected entertaining propaganda. Yet, cleverly, the author contrasted eight different diets fairly objectively to find common threads. Later, when I checked his central thesis (eliminate sugar & simple carbs but ingest lots of fat, protein & veggies) against the Mayo Clinic’s notoriously conservative guidelines from 2022, the low-carb approaches leading to ketogenesis were corroborated and updated. These facts seem to have a pretty good shelf life. Like many other scary words ending in “-osis”, ketosis causes concern but really shouldn’t. It is just a body’s pathway of fat-burning instead of sugar-burning. That sugar-as-fuel option has all sorts of insulin-spike problems that fat-burning avoids. God rest ye merry pancreas . . .
Because I like to eat and we posses 200 lbs of frozen vacuum-packed wild game and fish, I thought this focus on animal products might be a cheap and painless way to both dive into my freezer storehouse and get into shape. Yes, I recognize that ROUND is a shape. The list of eat-without-limits really caught my attention. Avocados, bacon, eggs, broccoli, steak, burgers, butter, all green, red, yellow veggies and sauces of many many sorts. Oh yes, drink lots of water too to help your liver. All very do-able.
So all I had to do was swear off wheat, candies, sugar, colas, juice, alcohol, processed foods and fruits. The only thing on that list I miss is breads and fruits but no pain no gain (or loss as it were). How did I do? Well, now two weeks in, guess what? Stuff is happening! Firstly, I actually lost weight; the remarkable sum of ummm. . . 26 . . . ounces. So much for the charlatan’s 4 lbs per week claims! I needed something to hate on him about anyway. But that is not the big story here.
Two notable things actually have happened. The first is rather personal but (or is that butt?) excreta became all tootsie roll meets buckshot. OK, the toilet paper savings will be appreciated. And the second is the more profound (though I don’t sneeze at buckshot). It requires some backstory first. And you thought the buckshot WAS the back-story . . .
Somewhere around 1986 I complained to our family doctor Mac Davis about shoulder pain, lamely claiming my wife slept with her head on my shoulder thereby slowly ruining my clavicle alignment. Wrong. I learned that rotator cuff erosional grind and pain runs our family. Dad and four out of five brothers had it too. Were all of their wives head-butting their shoulders each night too? Mac just said “Deal with it — it will likely get worse, you won’t have a career as a tennis star or javelin thrower. Surgery in your 40’s might be indicated”. Then Mac died.
I have lived silently (when not whining to my wife) with fairly consistent shoulder pain for the last 36 years along with worrying about impending shoulder surgery. Yet, lo and behold, a week into this new anti-inflammation (whatever that is) diet, that shoulder pain mysteriously disappeared. I mean it is completely undetectable and I don’t wake up in the night and have to roll over. It also means that I am sleeping better than any time in adult memory. This is an earth-shaking change I did not expect and one for which I will gladly forgo the crustiest French baguette and just eat the pats of butter I would have melted into it.
Is this just a coincidence? I don’t know but I plan to find out. Here, the curse of the same experimental science that has paid my salary for 40 years again rears its inquisitive head . After a couple of pain-free months I will conduct what is called a “switchback experiment” where I return to a full-on high-carb diet- beware baguettes and cinnamon buns!- and see if the pain returns. An aching shoulder will suggest some joint inflammation (whatever that is). Should my shoulder start hurting again, then I will have to conclude the shoulder has diet-induced inflammation (W.T.I.).
Just a warning here. If I satisfy my skeptical self that eliminating carbs reduces joint pain, I am very likely to become the very same insufferable proselyte I most despise. However, some things deserve to be shouted from the rooftops, especially if I can figure out how to make money off it.