When I heard in the radio while driving a week ago that the company that popularized low-carb diet and brought in a revolution in American culture is filing for bankruptcy (well “the diet revolution” lasted for only 6 months but it is ok..All fads in the US live only that long), my wife and I turned towards each other and smiled.
Smiling is really an emotional downplay of how we really feel about this topic and how we felt precisely at that moment. We are not enemies of Dr. Robert C. Atkins. But it is just that we feel that the exploiting power of such diet gurus who manage to hypnotize millions of ignorant Americans who are made to believe that they have a weight problem (in many cases that may be true) and that the gurus have just invented the next best thing in the world – “their new diet plan”, is plain obnoxious and disdaining.
“I am on the wagon”, said a fellow teammate – “so let’s just go to “Randy’s*. They have a nice dinner buffet and I can get all I can eat steak & pork chops”.
“But…you drank with us last night”, I was polite yet curious.
“Ha…ha..I meant the Carb-wagon”.
Thus the revolution spread its roots everywhere across the middle & upper class America. People were carrying carb calculated charts (pocket size) all the time with them.
“How would you like your burger sir..?”
“No buns..and some lettuce..cheese is ok..”
“Mustard..or Mayo sir..?”
“Hmm..wait a minute. Let me check my chart. Hmmm..No mustard. I have already had my 0.2 g ** of carb for the day. But lots of Mayo…because that has only 7g of carb in it **. Plus I will be eating a steak for dinner..and I need not worry about carb count for my dinner. So yeah..just throw some Mayo in it..”
“Who cares if there is 25 g fat in that Mayo. Right..?” I whispered, making sure my friend did not hear it.
“So how is your burger”? , this time it was loud enough that he could actually hear it.
“Looks like something dipped in Mayo to me..I can’t see the burger at all”, again whispering to myself.
“So how do you order a chicken sandwich? Chicken Sandwich with nothing to sandwich..and just a chicken?..ha….ha..”, I got a big kick out of this joke.
“How did you get into this Atkins thing?”, I asked gathering all my humility together.
“Well..my wife has been reading about this and says it has worked on her friends. So here I am. Plus this seems like a fun diet as I get to pig out – literally. I am not a big Veggie guy anyway..”
The next day, I forwarded about half a dozen links to him. All talking about the myths behind the Atkins diet and how it may be effective in the short run but could be a disaster in the long run and so on and so forth. Of course, there were not many first hand living stories to substantiate the negative impact of the diet in the long run. And of course, my objective of doing this was basically to educate my friend – who is otherwise one of the smartest men I have met in my professional career. I just wanted him to make some informed decisions. As I expected, he told me he would ignore my mail (even though he said he read all the articles I sent).
There was a phenomenal surge of low-carb products hitting the market, in the next few months. Consumers who were not even bothered about any of these were made to read the Net Carb values of what they were eating and for no reason were made to feel guilty if they bought a product that had more net carb value than another similar product which was being sold as a “low-carb lifestyle product”. Thus the average American mind was brainwashed.
Carbohydrates are not bad. In fact, it is the preferred source of energy for the human body. Yes. Protein and Fat can also provide energy..but that’s not what the human body wants. To put it simply, from what I know, if you deplete your system of carbs, you will deplete yourself of a longer life. Your brain cells will go dead sooner – your neurotic system will start functioning slower – You may have stronger muscles and leaner girth. But you will never be able to use them. I am not a nutritionist, so I shall not proceed with my theory of “anti-anti-carbism” here, even though I have strong beliefs in it.
30 months after my first revolt against the revolution that started, here I am writing about the death (or somewhere there of) of an anti-carb diet which like many other diet programs tried to defy nature and lost its battle. It is just that this happened too soon and I could recapture the entire life cycle of this fad vividly because of its short life. The reasons for the company tanking down are not exactly what I would have wanted because there is no clear indication that those Americans who bought this idea of low-carb lifestyle have stopped believing in it. However, it is clear that many couldn’t stick to it while the myth very much looms over the American skies tempting those who dare to adapt the lifestyle. But for now…
When it comes to Carbohydrates, I am a “complex” person.
* fictional restaurant name; as a substitute for a real one
** not real values