If you’ve ever been on a strict diet–one that disallows all the fun stuff, such as booze, sugar, chocolate or bread (or, while they’re at it, breathing)–you know that life on a limiting food plan can feel colorless and dull. But, as these diet books show, you don’t have to give up all your favorite things to get your weight back on track. Follow these plans to lose a few and still live a little.
Diets and drinking go well together because alcohol dulls the psychic pain of denying yourself delicious eats. But even as the sweet nectar soothes the troubled soul, there’s still that nagging question: “What about all those calories?” Never fear– Ian K. Smith’s “Shred” diet allows a tipple in moderation: After an initial period of abstinence, you can work up to one mixed drink twice a week (or 3 light beers or 3 glasses of wine per week). It may not get you hammered, but it’s better than having to party like it’s the 1920’s.
2. Eat to Live
Judith Viorst wrote in “Love & Guilt & The Meaning of Life, Etc.” that “strength is the capacity to break a Hershey bar into four pieces with your bare hands–and then eat just one of the pieces.” So if you’re having a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” can you at least have one tiny piece of heaven? Imagine our joy that on day three of Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” plan, the morning begins with a chocolate smoothie.
3. Wheat Belly
For some dieters, the mere mention of cookies can scuttle an otherwise successful attempt at losing weight (they’re so tiny, what’s the harm?). The cardiologist William Davis is a strong advocate for removing wheat from your diet–in “Wheat Belly,” he claims that when some of his patients stop eating the grain, they get “typical weight loss totaling 20, 30 or 50 pounds just within the first few months.” All fine–but doesn’t that mean no cookies? Au contraire: “Wheat Belly” features a non-wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Sadly, caffeine is often cited as a no-no for those trying to lose weight– Dr. Atkins, for example, forbids it because of its effect on blood sugar, while multiple macrobiotic diets tell you caffeine’s impact as an aggressive stimulant doesn’t help with the delicate balance of foods necessary to shed pounds. JJ Virgin takes a different approach in her “Virgin Diet.” She warns that it is food intolerance which causes bloating and weight gain, so if you don’t cut out certain foods, you’ll never consistently lose the pounds. She cites gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts and sugar/artificial sweeteners as the top high-intolerance foods; drop ’em all for 21 days, and bloat will go away, says Virgin. Crucially, JJ doesn’t mention coffee in that list, so as long as you like it black, feel free to make it a trenta.
How does a rational human being live without pizza? We honestly have no answer. So, thank god for David Zinczenko, whose “The 8-Hour Diet”features the following advice: “Eat whatever you want, as much as you want. But only eat during an 8-hour period each day.” (Even better, you only have to follow the 8-hour plan for three days per week.) Zinczenko cites the lure of the “stuffed-crust pizza that leaps out from the TV screen during a bowl game,” but crucially, he doesn’t say don’t eat it. Instead, his plan seeks to limit the open window for eating which, according to research, is key to losing weight. We take that as a tacit OK on of the joys of pepperoni, pineapple, anchovies . . . whichever topping strikes your fancy.