Expert says starting diet is a snap

By Jelani Yancey

I started my diet again Tuesday.

It’s one of the things I do best, right up there with writing these award-winning columns, driving a golf ball and rooting for the Cubs. I am much better at it than, by contrast, home repair, math or chipping and putting.

As with hitting driver, I find repetitive practice to be my key to success. You can’t do anything well, I say, unless you work at it more or less constantly. Tuesday wasn’t the first time I started my diet. Nor was it the first time this year. Nor was it the first time this month. In fact I have become so adept at starting a diet that I can pretty much do it on command. You want me to start dieting again in early February? I’ll be happy to.

I have found that timing is everything in the start of a diet. Take the last diet I started. That was in mid-December. I was on a roll, too. Fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch and take my chances at dinner. Six days into it I had already lost three pounds. I felt good, leaner, trimmer, even more cheery than my usual well-known sunny disposition.

Then the inevitable occurred. The inevitable in this case is called Christmas. Never begin a diet in mid-December. Big mistake. You know what happens at Christmas, don’t you? Christmas parties. Christmas parties filled with candy and drinks. These are generally followed by Christmas dinner. In our house, that dinner is highlighted by the annual presentation of the Christmas dessert parfait. It’s a wonderful homemade concoction we do together and serve in a large, festive red covered bowl. I will summarize the ingredients below.

1 pound cake.

1 quart vanilla pudding

1 pint red raspberries

1 pint blackberries

1 sliced banana

2 pints strawberries

1 quart whipping cream

In other words, it’s a full-out holiday buzz and a thorough diet killer. Which is why I started over Tuesday.

The only thing easier than beginning a diet is ending it.

We have a marvelous facility for dieting in the U.S., and also a wonderful need. Year in and year out, this newspaper devotes dozens and perhaps hundreds of inches of news and photo space to the concerns of those who do not have enough to eat. We may be giving a false picture. The reality is that far and away the number one health concern in the U.S. today isn’t under-eating; it’s over-eating.

I’m told that the average American purchases something on the order of 3,800 calories of food per day. I’m no dietitian, but my recollection is that the maintenance-level daily allowance for an adult mail is about 3,000 calories. If so, every guy is consuming about 25 percent more calories per day than needed to maintain weight. I presume the RDA for women is lower, which means the weight-gain problem is more severe.

An outfit that shall remain nameless because it was trying to sell diet stuff sent out an email recently reporting that the average Kansas man gained .nearly 1 pound during the holiday season. Women did a little better, or if you prefer worse, adding 1.12 pounds. I will only add that I did my part.

The best I’ve ever done on a diet was two or three years ago. Stowing the M&Ms;, exercising regularly and switching from gravies to soups, I went from about 212 to about 197 in three months. Feeling good about myself, I moderated. You can guess what occurred over time. If there is such a thing as moderate dieting, I haven’t found its recipe yet. I am pretty sure, however, that if and when I do, it won’t include pound cake, pudding and whipped cream.

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