Saturday, May 13, 2006

'Skinny Bitch' ...

Doreen called me the other night from the salon. She was reading aloud to her fellow salon visitees from "Skinny Bitch: A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!," a bawdy little in-your-face book by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.

Now, the journalist in me is forever wanting to get all sides of a story. I bristle when someone makes an emphatic declaration. I want corroboration. Just because somene says something doesn't make it true. Words are very powerful. They can be used for good and they can be used for evil.

But just the other day, I was IMing with Ethan, and wrote, "I wish someone would write the definitive diet book." ("Diet" as in "food we eat to live" not "Atkins" or "Slim-Fast" or "The Zone" or anything meant to be temporary and narrow.) Huh. Look at that. I think I found it. Hey, thanks for the tip, Doreen.

Now, some might say that I like this book because it's aligned with my new-found way of eating. Corroboration, as it were. But the central tenent of this book is, "Use your head." In fact, that's the title of Chapter 13. And 13 is my lucky number. So there.

In Chapter 4, entitled "The Dead, Rotting, Decomposing Flesh Diet," the girls come out with their barbs blazing: "The Atkins diet. Hmm. Eat the flesh of dead cows, dead pigs, and dead chickens. Avoid fresh fruit. You are a total moron if you think the Atkins diet will make you thin." Ooh, thems fightin' words, eh? I Googled "Skinny Bitch" to see if the girls have a web site, and ran across a blog entry that reads, in part, "... I guess you're gonna have to call me a 'moron' because that's exactly what the Atkins diet did for me! I was transformed from a 410-pound ticking time bomb on the verge of a certain heart attack down to an athletic and healthy 225-pound man ready to live a long and healthy life in just ONE year. Now I'm 'Livin' La Vida Low-Carb' (my autobiographical book is available at and I'll never be the same again!"

To Mister Jimmy Moore of Spartanburg, South Carolina (where barbeque is a way of life), I say, "Use your head."

I tried the low-carb, high-protein thing once for a couple weeks. Yup, lost weight. You betcha. And you know what? I knew what I was eating couldn't be good for me. Does anyone honestly believe that they can eat steak dipped in butter for the rest of their life and be healthy? Apparently, some people do.

But have you noticed that the Atkins craze has abated? We're not hearing about it every day on the news. We're not seeing Atkins-approved products sprout up in every section of the grocery store anymore. Gee. Why is that? Maybe it's because people started to think that: 1) Eating nothing but protein is really frickin' expensive, 2) Maybe it wasn't the end-all, be-all path to wellness, and 3) They didn't want to live in a world without a potato.

I knew someone who was a full-fledged Atkins prophet. She would write e-mails, at length, about how great she felt - how clear-headed - and I watched as the weight dropped off. She wore smaller and smaller jeans. She tucked in her shirts. She faithfully ate her Atkins bars and meat. Atta girl.

And a couple months ago, I ran into her, and she was heavier than she was when she first started the Atkins diet. Uh oh.

We all know that "diets" don't work. Yes, you'll lose weight if you subsist on Slim-Fast shakes for six months, but if you never address your underlying relationship with food, you're gonna pack on the pounds again when you stop drinking the shakes.

So it all comes down to "Use your head." You know that a Meat Lover's pizza with extra cheese isn't good for you. You know that you're not doing your body any favors when you scarf down the jumbo bag of Doritos. You know your body's not thanking you when you drink a six-pack of Mountain Dew.

Still, the girls know that people don't like to be told that they're making bad choices. They probably already know it, but they don't want anyone remind them.

Yes, veganism seems radical because most of us have been raised on meat and dairy. We've been told that we need meat for protein and dairy for calcium. "Drink your milk" is a childhood mantra. So we did. And we do. But just because we do it, doesn't mean it's good for us.

"But Beth," you're saying, "I don't want to give up Oreos." Yeah, me neither. I love Oreos. But I love my health more. (And by the way, there's a vegan Oreo knock-off for when you absolutely, positively have to get your Oreo groove on.)

And hey, I love the planet. If we stopped farming so many animals, we'd cut down on global warming. And I love people. If we used that land to plant crops, we could go a long way toward feeding those who are starving. And I love animals. If we stopped eating meat, we'd spare 10 billion (that's billion with a B, kids) animals from inhumane deaths every year, in this country alone.

"Oh, that Beth," some of you are thinking. "She's such a bleeding-heart liberal. Meat is our birthright. Our ancestors ate it." Yeah, a couple million years ago. And they're dead now.

But hopping on a soapbox never won over the majority, right? People will hear what they want to hear and discard the rest. Still, do me a favor. Humor me here. Go to your library and check out "Skinny Bitch" or plunk your butt down at the bookstore and read it (I got through the whole thing in about three hours) and put it back on the shelf if you don't want to give the girls the royalties. Just hear them out. See if anything they say makes sense to you. Maybe you'll decide that they're 100 percent chock full of bunk. That's fine. Maybe you'll decide that you like one of their ideas and incorporate that into your life. That's fine, too. Maybe you'll fall backward like you've been smacked on the forehead by a televangelist and then scamper to the kitchen and pour your milk down the drain and vow to never eat another chicken breast for as long as you live. Who knows. But give it a read.

And lest you think that it's just a couple of chicks spouting off on their own brand of food religion, well, they cite 226 sources throughout the book. It's like a high-school reasearch paper that way, all those little superscript numbers. "Well, sure, but they picked sources that support their argument," you're saying. Honestly, I can hear your arms folding across your chest in defiance. Well, of course they did, but hey: They were able to FIND 226 sources to support what they're talking about. That counts for something. (One of them was Dr. Neal Barnard's book "Breaking the Food Seduction," which I own and love.)

By the by, the authors of "Skinny Bitch" aren't advocating that we should all be members of the Anorexic Nation. This is all about being healthy, not looking like a Tootsie Pop. But since our culture is all about looks, rightly or wrongly, allow me to introduce the Skinny Bitches of the hour. Looks like they're doing something right.


Blogger Jeff Hunter said...

They were able to FIND 226 sources to support what they're talking about. That counts for something.
And lets see one reference that says a double quarter pounder is good for you...

8:42 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

There is a definitive nutrition book called the China Study. This books lays out over 2 decades of research by Dr. T. Colin Campbell in an easy to understand way. It proves, scientifically, that a plant-based diet with very little or no dairy is the healthiest. It's a fun read.

Little bit o' copy and paste: For more than 40 years, T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. has been at the forefront of nutrition research. His legacy, the China Study, is the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Dr. Campbell is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University and Project Director of the China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project. The study was the culmination of a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Superdentalgirl said...

I am struggling to figure out the best balance for my body nutritionally at this point in my life, after going nutzo and binge eating for 3 years now. What a struggle and journey! Cool blog-thanks for planting the seed in my head, and YES I am going to hit the library today to see if I can find "the bitches"

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beth, while you were correct to point out that Atkins isn't the be-all and end-all of dietary wisdom, you're very misguided about the purported benefits of veganism. Vegan regimens are optimal only for _some_ people, not the majority of us. The rest of the populace is better off on omnivorous diets and Jimmy Moore is but one example of that. I recommend you reconsider your avid support of anything said or written by members of PCRM and PETA and their sympathizers like the authors of Skinny Bitch. I humbly propose you purchase (maybe used) or at least check out of a library The Great Cholesterol Con by Anthony Colpo and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for starters. You'll be glad having read these books. Mr. Moore btw uses his head, notably by following Colpo's advice.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous actorken t said...

Why do we have these meat eating TEETH?

Anyone? Anyone?
HELLO there arent my imgination. I can see 'em. I can feel 'em. I can TEAR flesh with em.

Vegans are in DENIAL. I dont CARE ABOUT MEDICAL 'proof' cause man... 10 years ago you werent supposed to eat any eggs neither.

THe proof is in the bite.

Atkins works for me. Bread doesnt. why the hell can't you liberals agree that people are NOT all the fcking SAME... you talk about diversity but you want us all to eat the same WAY.


have a nice fcking day.
and stay away from my beef. cause baby.. beef is good soup.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Bridget said...

dear actorken

We do not have meat eating teeth. Our teeth are able to break down meat when it has been cooked, put on a plate, and broken into small pieces with a fork and knife. We would, however, not be able to attack prey and tear apart their flesh as carnivorous animals can. These kinds of animals, lions, bears etc, have enormous extremely sharp molars for that purpose exactly. We have teeth similar to those of herbivores; flattened molars perfect for grinding leafy greens and grains, eating beans, and fruit and a digestive intestinal track similar to those as well. Carnivores have a short intestine perfect for ridding their body of the meat they have consumed before it is broken apart and releases toxins. We have a long digestive track that breaks food down slowly, similar to those of herbivores in nature. All of this proving the correlation between humans and plant based diets.

5:46 PM  

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