Why most Diets fail?

Breadcrumb Abstract Shape
Breadcrumb Abstract Shape
Breadcrumb Abstract Shape
Breadcrumb Abstract Shape
Breadcrumb Abstract Shape
Breadcrumb Abstract Shape
  • User AvatarDr S.Shah
  • 12 Jun, 2023
  • 13 Mins Read

Why most Diets fail?


Looking at the real or imaginary images of philosophers and prophets in the philosophical and religious texts makes one realise that not many of them were obese. Now why would one take notice of such a superficial matter when going through such a meaningful metamorphosis of the soul? This probably is due to the exodus of unanswered questions from a restless mind or just a curiosity regarding the shapes of these historical figures due to modern influences. Are their physical shapes testimony to the harsh lives they lived or did they discover a secret? Regarding the unanswered questions, the curiosity remains as to why humans keep on fighting the seemingly unwinnable battle against obesity. This question becomes increasingly intriguing due to the overemphasis on human form and beauty in the modern world. This is not to suggest that it is a unique modem phenomenon, the Greek statues are the masterpieces depicting ideals of male and female beauty. The dilemma, however, remains that old folks resembled more Greek sculptures than us, at least in the images I was flipping through.  Don’t get me wrong, we do have our share of the Greek Gods in the shape of the Kardashians and Brad Pitts; however, they remain few. To the future students of philosophy, our images will arouse nothing but pity and somewhat disgust at the state of our health and bodily form.

My mind got stuck on the issue and found it difficult to proceed with soul cleansing philosophy. This will also provide me with a little challenge as we embark on resolving the biggest puzzle faced by modern humans, I thought to myself. The amusing part of this journey was that like a merry-go-round I came back to the same spot I started from. This is perplexing, though; why do we humans invent, destroy and reinvent? Maybe the evolutionary biologists are right, we remain chimpanzees.  The puzzle gets hilarious when we realise that those old folks discovered through common sense what we are trying to prove through science. Now this is not to say that science remains problematic; on the contrary, what is suggested here is that when it comes to food, the body remains fully equipped with all kinds of scientific data. Don’t trust me? Try eating raw broccoli. The body is smart enough to know what it wants and what it does not. It even throws tantrums when we feed it the wrong food, in my case broccoli.

Let’s start with day one. Adam and Eve were thrown out of heaven because of food. In this instance, the culprit was sugar. Sweet Eve suggested to Adam to eat the sweet apple. God wasn’t happy with this sugar craving of Adam and Eve so threw them out of heaven. Adam and Eve did not learn their lesson, though, as they could not resolve the riddle. Why were they thrown out of heaven, as the cravings were implanted in them by God? Poor Adam tried to resolve the dilemma, scratching his head. He must have tried asking God as to why he made sweet Eve and the sweet apple so tempting and simultaneously forbidding. His ancestors to this date are not able to resolve the dilemma and look up at the sky when reaching out for that cheesecake as the mixture of cravings and guilt are excruciating. But hold on a second! Let’s resolve Adam and Eve dilemma first. Did I mention cravings and guilt together? Maybe we are getting close to the riddle. What if God wanted us to crave sweets but control it with guilt so we get just the right amount of sweets, I theorised? Adam and Eve crossed the line by having too much of it in one go and God responded but throwing them out of  Cadbury’s. As a child I was told that Heaven is composed of beautiful people, so I concluded that they were thrown out of Heaven because that place is only for the fit and beautiful, not for the sugar craving, pot -bellied earthly lot.  Adam and Eve being humans must have thrown a few tantrums due to sugar withdrawal. However, the sin of eating too much sugar is so great in God’s eyes that it didn’t matter. They were here to stay on this rock for the foreseeable future. Now this story is very boring if the devil is absent from it. He does enter the scene only after making sure that God is not willing to take Adam and Eve back. Once he realised that they are here to stay, he gets into action and convinces Adam and Eve that “Sweets are good because they are so sweet” This was the beginning of the good and bad diet debate started by none other than the devil himself.

The Greeks made sculptures in the image of the God or Gods they believed in. It is difficult to comprehend that level of Godly beauty of the male and female form can be attained by the consumption of the substance Adam and Eve were thrown out of heaven for, otherwise it won’t be Godly. Did God talk to the Greeks, or did they learn the lesson from the story of Adam and Eve? One philosopher seems to be in tune with God’s message when he wrote, “The most suitable of these foods, though, are the ones we can eat without cooking: fruits in season, certain vegetables, milk, cheese, and honeycombs. These foods also are easiest to obtain”. Apart from honeycomb, which could only be consumed by the rich, the rest seems to be a very sensible approach to a healthy diet. The Greeks were not the only ones pouring out their wisdom regarding healthy food. Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism consider gluttony a sin. Islam forbids excessive consumption of food and demands self-control from its adherents.

Despite the wisdom of ages, and strict guidance from religions, the riddle remains: Why on Earth are we obese? To resolve it properly, I approached it thoroughly. This quest, like all scientific investigations, remains inconclusive without some field data. I consulted a cross section of society and tried to find answers. The first choice was clergy, obviously for their closeness to God’s message. Science was to be consulted later, after answering the deep religious perspective first. I arrived at the seminary and found him waiting for me. Here he was sitting in front of me eating biscuits, he was twice my size with a midsection resembling a gorilla munching on leaves. “So, what is the position of religion on food?” I asked. “Self-control is the basis of all religious teachings; this applies to food as well”. Self-control?  I tried to make sense of his comment while observing him finish the whole packet of digestives. This is when I realised that despite all his religious training he was still walking on the tightrope of temptation and self-control, like his ancestral first parents. The Adam and Eve riddle was getting interesting and challenging to resolve.

Next step was to find a hunky scientist, as they must have all the secrets, I presumed. The door was opened by a somewhat frail, balding middle-aged man in whose presence I looked like Tom Cruise. He delighted in giving me the scientific facts behind obesity. For him, it all boils down to our primitive brain. Our ancestors in the savannah could not munch all the time as finding food was an intense struggle. They craved sugar and fat to store it for lean times. Fats, I understand, but sugar? He explained that unneeded sugar in the body is converted into fat for future energy requirements. He looked at me and said, “You see, we don’t live in the savannah anymore, but crave the sugar. When we consume an excessive amount of sugar and then sit on our backside all day long, we get fat”. Fascinating theory, I thought. Now it makes sense why God forbad Adam and Eve from eating apples. In heaven you don’t do much work, so why consume excess sugars? Plus, obese people are not tolerated there. “Food is medicine” he said.  The tongue is the beast best controlled, I read somewhere. Mine is, however, a troublesome one. I flattered his ego and asked for the secret recipes of such vibrant looks. I had to bear two hours of scholarly speak regarding the benefits of the vegetable juice diet.

The clergyman is consulted and so is a scientist, now I need a psychologist to make my research impressive-looking. His vocabulary was more complex than the complexity of minds he was investigating. He said, “It’s Binge Eating”. “What’s Binge Eating?” I asked naively. “It’s when people cannot control their urge to eat and keep on stuffing themselves,” he said angrily. “Oh, you mean that self-control thing”. He lifted his eyes and stared at me over his glasses and replied sarcastically, “Yeah, that self-control thing! They struggle with self-control because they went through traumas in life”. The matter was getting more complicated than the choice of the psychologist vocabulary. This stuff is way deeper than I imagined, I thought to myself.

On the bus I sat next to a thirty-something who reminded me of the sweet Eve as she was munching on an apple. “At least you are not eating the crap packaged food” I said, with the air of a wise man. Sweet Eve smiled at me and said, “Oh no, I don’t, because I am suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? What is this world coming to? Why is everyone throwing complicated jargon at me, I thought? I lowered my status from a know-it-all philosopher to a naïve Adam next to Eve. I humbly asked, “What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and what’s it got to do with apples?” She smiled first but quickly went into deep thought and replied contemplatively “It’s mostly joint pains and tiredness all the time. Eliminating artificial sugars and refined grains helps a lot in my case”. It was revealed to me that sugar does more damage than just causing obesity. However, my sweet talk was interrupted by the driver when he reminded me that I should get off or else I would miss my stop. What a coincidence between me and Adam, I thought. Sweet Eve, sweet apple and the angry driver.

The next tick in the box was a dietitian. The dietitian promised to provide information based on science rather than opinion, which was comforting. According to him, when we consume a lot of sugar in the form of refined bread, rice, potatoes, sweets etc, our glucose levels shoot up.  Our glucose monitoring policeman called ‘Insulin’ immediately comes into action and takes the excess glucose and converts it into fat. However, this leaves the brain with not enough glucose, so it goes into tantrums. “The brain is a bully”, I was once told by a Tibetan monk. It wants its glucose ‘right here, right now’. Being the King, it sends a message down the line that glucose shall be served. The body has no choice but to obey its commands and gets jittery in fear of displeasing the King. The hands on auto pilot reach out for a tasty sweet, and the cycle continues. We get fatter through that nasty- sounding phenomenon called “Binge Eating”. When I was reminded that the brain is the King, I could understand the body’s inability for self-control. We don’t play “Wait a second, Sir” with a tyrant. I learned this bitter lesson in my first job a long time ago.

Ok, so how do we get  Adam’s lost children back to heaven now? He was thrown out of heaven due to lack of self-control, which was due to either a clever or naïve Eve tempting him to consume a lot of sweets. If this research can unlock the key to self-control, I stand a chance of taking selfies with the pretty ones up in heaven. I resorted to the internet and discovered strange terminologies like Vegans, Vegetarian, Fruitarians, Carnivores and so on. The fruitarian’s belief comprises several paradigms which include non-cruelty to animals and eating what tastes and looks good, the way nature designed it. They also consider that to be a healthy alternative to other forms of eating. The vegans add vegetables to that mix while a version of them includes dairy products. Carnivores eat nothing but meat and swear by the health and mental benefits of such a diet. There were multitudes of weight loss programs with fashionable names and exorbitant prices. It also dawned on me that the problem was too big, and people were suffering from a host of scary sounding chronic diseases due to obesity and bad diet.

All that further complicated the matter, and the answers seem to be lost in the hundreds of dietary protocols available out there. Maybe taking a day or two off will be a good idea, I thought to myself. Next day in the university cafe I asked my nerdy friend how to resolve the issue. He said calmly, “Do research on real people and see what works”. I said, “Which people?”. He said, “Do you know the Hemlock story?” I said, “Yeah, that spy guy”. He burst into laughter and said, “No! you idiot, the Socrates story, not Sherlock. Socrates drank poison for the sake of philosophy. Go eat broccoli and the like for science and see what it does to you. Record your results and you are a scientist”. This is simple, I thought, and decided to give it a try.

So, I tried to connect the dots. Adam was thrown out of Heaven for lack of self-control. The obese clergy man also mentioned self-control, so did the juice drinking professor and the angry psychiatrist. The culprit remains self-control since day one. Now comes the Nobel prize winning and dollars churning part. If I can discover or steal the idea regarding self-control then I have the riddle resolved and I will finally be allowed to re-enter the gates of heaven.  As I was dreaming about the heavenly Eves, I switched on the documentary channel. The sight of lean African bushmen caught my attention.  It occurred to me that none of them were obese. They only had meat, nuts, seasonal fruits, roots, dairy and vegetables available. This aroused my curiosity, and I searched for tribal diets. I found one close enough called ‘Paleo’ or ancestral diet. The premise was simple, avoid grains and sugars predominantly and the body glucose levels becomes stable. When glucose levels are stable, then there is no need for insulin to make fat and the King remains happy in a steady supply of glucose. Our body is not shivering with fear and we eat less. Marvellous! I thought for a second but then realised that a Greek philosopher recommended such a diet a few thousand years ago. Am I back in the same spot on the merry-go-round? What the heck! Who cares! All I care about is for this thing to work. I decided to have my Hemlock.

My sweet Eve can’t resist the temptations of apple pies. She always repeats the phrase ” Sweet apple pies are heavenly because they are so sweet”. The realisation that my sweet Eve might be possessed by the Devil terrifies me as the phrase “Sweets are good because they are so sweet” belongs to him. In the evening I heard the familiar “Sweet pie after dinner, right?”. I mustered all the courage and replied “No, I’m fine”. My imaginations were running wild either because of tiredness or my fixation with the Devil recently. What I saw next shocked me as she turned her head towards me and said in an unfamiliar coarse and deep voice “You sure you don’t want the sweet apple pie?” My heart sank as she stared at me , however, I resolved not to cave in like Adam.

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