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National Editorials & Columns

Porter: Dieting tips you may want to ignore

I’ve been on my diet for two weeks and so far, I’ve lost three friends. I only had four to start with and one’s on vacation.

I’ve become one of those really annoying dieters. You know the type. When you sit down for a meal with me, I criticize what you’re eating.

“Do you know how much fat is in that?” I quiz.

In the grocery aisles, I’m checking all the labels – even the items I don’t intend to buy. I want to know how much fat is in everything. I’ve dug boxes out of the trash at home to see how much fat I’m eating.

I’ve gone as far as to call 18 government agencies trying to find out the caloric intake of air. Nobody’s talking. It’s a conspiracy.

Diets are killers. It occurred to me that the root of the word “diet” is “die.” It also occurred to me that the root of the word “exercise” is “die.”

Why couldn’t dieting be enough? If we eat less and eat better, shouldn’t we be able to lose weight without grueling exercise? I walk from my house to my car. Isn’t that enough? Why must we add injury to insult?

For me, dieting has been pretty much a mindset. I think I’ve surprised everyone around me at how well I’ve kept to my diet. I used to each peaches off the tree when I was a kid – fuzz and all. But I hadn’t eaten peaches for years. To me, the idea that a natural food product could be sweet without the addition of sugar was foreign even though sugar also is a natural food product.

I bought a bag of baby carrots. They’re crunchy and sweet. I just pretend they’re candy. Watching TV, I’ve replaced 12 ounces of cheese puffs with 12 pounds of carrots.
I was only a little concerned when my skin turned orange. I’ve been eating a lot of lettuce, too. Previously, I would eat salad about once a quarter of a year, and I would pile it high with all the extras – bacon bits, boiled eggs, sunflower seeds baked in peanut oil and lots of dressing.

Now I pretty much just eat the lettuce, maybe sprinkle grated carrots on top. As long as the lettuce is fresh, it’s not too bad. I don’t even put dressing on it most of the time. It’s not difficult to convince yourself that it’s good the first seven or eight times you eat it that way. After that, you begin to envision life in a prison camp.

I’ve always eaten a lot of turkey and chicken, but I used to order baked potatoes on the side. I like my potatoes with tons of butter as well as cheese and bacon bits. Now, I still order the chicken – grilled, not fried – but I get applesauce on the side.

I’ve also cut out dinner rolls altogether, which for me is like getting married and then retiring to separate rooms.

But applesauce simply doesn’t stick to your ribs like potatoes and dinner rolls. And I can tell you, the more applesauce you eat, the less it sticks.

I don’t know if I’m any lighter yet. But I’m sure not any fuller.

• David Porter can be reached at

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