Diet and Dieting.

It’s a dangerous business being a deviant. Even in matters of dietary choice, we shouldn’t really be surprised as this attitude is based on the primal instinct of survival. Survival of the herd or tribe left no room for individualism. Don’t dare to be different in any way. We see this throughout history, it will probably never change, but, hopefully maybe modified by education. For example, most reasonable people would accept that certain medical conditions impairing the ability to process food might require some dietary adjustment. Unfortunately not everyone IS reasonable.

A sick animal is often driven out of the herd  because it endangers the majority – it slows them down – it can no longer run with the herd so must be left to fend for itself. Older and sick animals often leave the herd of their own volition and we can see this in some domestic animals too. They are no longer useful and are merely a handicap and a drain on resources. This basic instinct is still discernible, maybe not overtly but it is the root of many of the ills of society.

So diet, which is necessarily related to health is not seen as something which merely concerns the individual but as something which may impact on the entire tribe. It is not seen as a personal choice or an individual’s attempt to manage a health condition but as a potential threat which must be eradicated. A sign of weakness or possible contagion. Something to distance oneself from. I hope you are getting my drift and maybe starting to regard the “antis” in a different light, I will leave you to come to your own conclusions. Personally I am starting to visualise herds of woolly mammoth etc. !

Seriously, I  have never understood why people get so wound up about other people’s dietary preferences. We are not speaking of cannibalism here! What IS so very odd about Low Carb? I genuinely don’t get it, I am sure we have all been aware of and maybe even followed stranger diets in the past. The oddest diet I ever came across was the banana and brown sugar diet. The “sufferer ” had to eat this and nothing else for a month. I doubt if anyone got that far. It would not have been very suitable for Diabetics would it? The single food or drink diets such as the cabbage soup diet and the grapefruit diet (apparently a favourite of celebs) would not provide necessary nutrition. The cigarette diet where people were encouraged to smoke to stifle hunger pangs started in America, in the  ‘’20’s and appeared to enjoy great popularity here during the war. Smoking is still used as an appetite suppressant today, hardly healthy, still, maybe a little more enticing than swallowing cotton wool balls for the same purpose!

Then we have those who “cleansed their systems” by using emetics. Lord Byron, for example, relied on his vinegar and water to make him sick. Bulimia and anorexia have always been popular, doesn’t seem to create more poets though.

I am sure the man who advocated chewing every mouthful 32 times (once for each tooth) before spitting it out, got plenty of exercise but do we need it in the jaw? His idea was that enough nutrition could be extracted without actually having to swallow the food. I was once told by a doctor that food which wasn’t easily chewed was good for diabetics, maybe he was a disciple.

There have been a few ideas which, while they didn’t do what they promised on the tin, didn’t harm either. For example slimming soaps were very popular in the thirties and we occasionally see attempts to revive the idea. I was quite taken with the Japanese idea of  wearing glasses with dark blue lenses to make food seem unappetising, useful when you feel tempted to eat what you shouldn’t. Apparently red and yellow make food appear more appetising. Now do we know of any fast food chains which use that combination?   Let me think..…….

Amazingly it was as late as 1954 when someone suggested the tapeworm diet. They can grow to 25 feet in the intestines. Gross I know, but I have quite recently read quite a few studies of the usefulness of parasites in weight loss and diabetes. As often these ideas, which seem bizarre, hold a germ of truth and only need the right circumstances or person to develop the idea. The saddest thing I think, in a weight loss diet, was Elvis’s habit of sedating himself for days so he couldn’t eat while he slept.

I was surprised that the efficacy of the Inuit diet (mostly fat and meat) was known as long ago as the 1920s. One man, the person who discovered it, and not an Inuit spent 28 days in hospital so he could be observed on this diet and he was found to be perfectly healthy. Only recently has it been looked at again in any depth.

There was also the man who advocated ignoring calories but avoiding carbs and eating protein and  fat, this was in 1961.  He then blotted his copybook by insisting that those following this plan should swallow a 3 ounce vegetable oil (polyunsaturated) with every meal. He was later prosecuted for various irregularities including mail order fraud. It does seem, however, that carb reduction is far from being a new idea.

So, does our choice to treat our diabetes by diet justify the sort of venomous attacks we often see. Is it really a threat to anyone? Or is it, in fact  the sensible natural way to go and one which could not only benefit diabetics but everyone else too, saving the country billions. Maybe, if you are a cave dweller or part of a prehistoric herd.

Kath

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