London - Another day, another dieting breakthrough. The latest is triggered by research suggesting that when Cuba was hit by food shortages, the average Cuban lost around 5kg in weight, causing deaths from heart disease to fall by a third.
No doubt the presses are already rolling for The Cuban Diet, with a super-slim Fidel Castro posing in his swimming trunks on the front cover.
The British tend to think, not without reason, that they are fatter than everyone else in the world. This means there is a growing market for diet books promising that we can have the bodies of foreigners.
For instance, The Italian Diet promises to “definitely make everyone feel slimmer and healthier” because Italy is “one of the slimmest nations in Europe”.
Meanwhile, The Manhattan Diet: The Chic Women’s Secrets To A Slim And Delicious Life promises to make you as thin as the women in the thinnest borough of New York, and The Dukan Diet by Dr Pierre Dukan promises to make you as slim as the French.
Oddest of all, The Paleolithic Diet by Mackenzie Jagger offers you “the diet that was eaten by our ancestors, the Paleolithic humans who lived around 2.5 million years ago”.
Presumably, if you combined the wisdom of all four of these diet books, you could end up looking just like a Paleolithic French/Italian living in Manhattan two-and-a-half-million years ago.
Like hairdressers and plumbers, dieticians like to kick off by being rude about the work of their predecessors. Typical is a work called GI: How To Succeed Using The Glycemic Index Diet, with an introduction listing previous diet books from the past few decades, and then explaining why they don’t work.
Thus, of the F-Plan Diet, which stressed fibre, the author says, “The downside soon became apparent when some wag nicknamed it The Flatulence Plan.”
The Atkins Diet, which was low on carbohydrates, is similarly dissed: “Before long, dieters were suffering from bad breath and constipation.” Furthermore, the popular Cabbage Soup Diet means “you get bored on most of these long before you get vitamin and mineral deficiencies”, and as for top dietician Rosemary Conley, “her dieters often felt starving”.
In recent years, publishers have begun to recognise the expanding - often to bursting point - market for greedy dieters, or those who see no contradiction in dieting and pigging out. Thus, there are hundreds of diet books with titles that suggest you can have your cake, eat it, and somehow still lose weight.
These include Lose Weight WITHOUT Dieting; The Ultimate Diet Guide - For Busy Women! (which is subtitled No Starving, No Food Restrictions, No Gym Workouts Required!); The Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat Yourself Slim With Gorgeous, Guilt-free Food; The Lunch Box Diet: Eat All Day, Lose Weight, Feel Great; and The Mediterranean Diet: A Diet That’s Not Really a Diet.
A book that seems to be specially aimed at the very stupid, very fat, very lazy male market is Robert Markham’s The Junk Food Diet - A Simple Manual For Building Muscles And Burning Fat, While Eating Whatever You Want!
Other authors suggest you can somehow fool your own brain into not feeling so peckish.
The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain To Think Like A Thin Person comes with a quote on its cover from Oprah Winfrey’s magazine: “The most empowering diet secret ever”, whilst the eerily prolific self-help guru Paul McKenna’s new book, The Hypnotic Gastric Band, promises “a psychological procedure that can help to convince the unconscious mind that a gastric band has been fitted, so the body behaves exactly as if it were physically present”.
One of the most notable aspects of the diet industry is quite how many books are predicated around numbers - specifically, how many pounds can be lost in how many days.
Thus, we have
* 5lbs In Five Days: Juice Master Detox;
*21 Pounds In 21 Days: The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox;
*The Waterfall Diet: Lose Up To 14lbs In Seven Days By Controlling Water Retention; and
* Lose 10lbs In Three Days, The Ultimate Three-Day Diet Plan.
Last month saw the publication of the longest-winded title of them all: How To Lose Weight In A Ketosis State of Mind - I Lost 80lbs In Five Months - How Much Do You Want To Lose.
Finally, those who simply can’t stop munching their way through these daft books will find themselves gobbling up One-Day Diet - The Fastest “Diet” In The World!, by Jennifer Jolan. This comes with free reports on, among much else, “How to lose weight spinning in a circle like kids’ and “How to make healthy ice cream in two minutes’.
It also offers a $6 supplement, one teaspoon of which “detoxes 900 yards of toxins from your body’. Make way! Make way! - - Daily Mail