My friend, whom we shall call Greg, weighted nearly four hundred pounds and loathed seeing himself in pictures. I suppose the mirror only gave him fractional glimpses, while pictures illuminated the full view. On the ladder of self love, he was nearing the bottom rung. While I do not like America's obsession with thin and think some padding looks healthy on both men and women, I could see that Greg's weight was beyond the realm of functional. He often panted just walking to the refrigerator from his pillowed sofa. Greg's heart palpitated and his knees and ankles hurt when he put weight on them. He was slowly eating himself to death.
"I just don't know what I can do," he said, staring at the floor, "no matter what diet I try, I keep gaining weight."
My heart went out to him as he sighed deeply. Years before, my own weight was nearing three hundred pounds. Sure I ate oatmeal and salads, but I binged on chips and cookies in the late evening. I had gained the weight slowly, but a pound a week adds up quickly. To lose the fat, I tried every diet that seemed reasonable. Drinking dark chocolate Metamucil milkshakes did not make me slim fast. Nor did watching my weight with a cumbersome point chart. I was simply too addicted to food for any of these to create a lasting effect. I was addicted to food. Then my sister-in-law went on a low-carb diet and suggested I try that. It was worth a shot.
The first three days of the diet were miserable. No matter how much meat, eggs, and cheese I ate, I was still hungry. When my kids made popcorn, I wanted to shove my face in the bowl. Their pizza tormented me with its thick, gooey, delectably golden crust. I needed a carb fix in the worst way. My hands were shaking and my mouth tasted like steel wool. Day four was different, however. I woke up, hit the floor running and no longer shook. My carb addiction was still there, but the bends were gone. I was free! Over the course of the next year, I dropped the extra weight and was down to the size I was in high school.
"Have you considered a low-carb diet?" Greg looked up at me and scowled.
"You mean where you only eat meat?"
"Well meat, eggs and cheese for the first two weeks. After that you can add a few carbs, but not many."
My four hundred pound friend shook his head. "Yeah but I don't think that's a healthy diet. I heard it wasn't good for you."
"My cholesterol count is excellent, my blood pressure is right on the mark, and I have loads of energy. I take a multivitamin every day and eat all I want of what I can have. My doctor told me it's a healthy life style and was thrilled that I chose it."
"Yeah, but I don't think it's for me. I like bread." His face grew firm under the layers of chubbiness. Greg's "yabuts" stopped him from seeing the truth. Low-carb diets are for food addicts. Unlike alcoholics, we cannot simply stop. Eating is necessary. The only thing we can do to have the kind of success that recovering alcoholic's have is to tee-total carbs. In essence, what Greg was saying to me was, "I would give up drinking, but I like my beer."
Now Greg has diabetes. He still refuses to eat a low carb diet, however. I will miss him when he is gone.