It’s a new year. How can you tell? By the articles soberly instructing everyone to eat in a more nutritionally correct manner.
Diet advice roosts in publications this time of year like backyard birds on feeders, and both may advise subsisting on nuts and berries.
Y’all don’t need me to give you diet tips, especially if you could see my chocolate collection, which includes a solid chocolate violin. Using the chocolate-bunny-ears theory, I plan to start eating at the tuner pegs and work my way down.
But, wait – I may have just accidentally offered some diet advice.
In the 1973 movie “Sleeper,” Woody Allen’s character awakens 200 years in the future, where a doctor says people used to think hot fudge was bad for them, “exactly the opposite of what we now know to be true.”
Sure enough, nutrition experts today say dark chocolate can benefit the heart. I’m sure I read that somewhere.
This gets to my problem with the January guilt feast: Diet advice seems to change almost daily.
Along with chocolate, red wine and caffeine have gone from always evil to often good. I’ve been careful to get my daily requirement of each for years.
Believe it or not, smoking was once touted as a diet aid. In the 1920s, an ad campaign for Lucky Strike said, “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.”
Does anyone remember the “diet plate” of the ’60s and ’70s? It’s what you got at dairy bars or lunch counters if you were calorie-conscious and virtuously avoiding the tuna melt. The typical diet plate was a scoop of cottage cheese, one canned peach half (dripping with the syrup it came in) and a couple of pieces of Melba toast.
Teenage girls aiming to make high school cheerleading squads smugly ate countless plates of this dreck, which included no vegetables, except for the limp lettuce leaf the cottage cheese sat on, and was completely flavor-free.
However, today, you might look at that tuna melt instead and think about the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish. These are supposed to be good for your heart, brain and other things. I know I read that somewhere, too.
And it might actually taste good, since the sandwich also includes the lovely fats of cheese and butter.
Oh, hold on a minute. That tuna melt is lousy with carbohydrates, the Darth Vader of nutrients out to kill us all. No matter that Italians have been eating pasta and great bread for centuries and seem to be thriving.
Go right ahead and ask for the tuna melt without the bread. I’d like to hear how the average short-order cook responds to that request.
As I waited at a fish counter for a piece of salmon recently, I heard a fellow shopper say he had read about a diet based on blood type and discovered that his type prevented him from become a vegetarian.
I asked him his carnivore blood type, and he said it was O-positive. That’s mine, too. I’m using it as an explanation for why, a week before Christmas, I craved a steak and a glass of eggnog for dinner.
The 18th-century French gastronome Brillat-Savarin famously wrote, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” He might have trouble in the 21st century, because our eating habits have multiple personality disorder. People can go from being a caveman (the paleo diet) to an infant (the baby food diet) to a monkey (the morning banana diet).
So, happy New Year, everyone. You’ll grill boneless chicken breasts, eat more yogurt and chew on flaxseed until the cows come home – or at least until March. Then you’ll do it all again next year.
I prefer to operate on one diet principle: Eat stuff that tastes good. Try not to eat stuff that doesn’t.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a chocolate E-string peg waiting.