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Resolving to Avoid Carbs

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Hoping to get some perceptive medical advice, a friend recently finagled an appointment with a famous doctor.

I remember when my friend was a rail-thin long-distance runner. Over the years, he gained weight and began to worry about his health.

He was happy that an ex-congressman put in a word for him with the famous doctor, who, although extremely busy, agreed to shoehorn my friend into his busy schedule.

After his examination, my friend said the doctor looked over his notes carefully before saying, ``You need to go on a diet and get more exercise.''

My friend said he pulled strings and drove 200 miles just so he could be told by a famous doctor what everyone from his wife to Oprah has been saying for years.

I asked what he was going to do with all that high-priced medical advice. He said he was going to make a New Year's resolution to go on a diet and get more exercise.

Resolving to go on a diet or to stop smoking are probably the most popular New Year's resolutions of all time.

My friend, who has tried several diets, said he was considering the South Beach low-carbohydrate diet.

As it turns out, I had already purchased the book after reading a newspaper article about the South Beach diet craze. The recipes mentioned in the article sounded tasty.

After buying the book, I spent nearly a full day figuring out all the ingredients I would have to buy just to cook breakfast the first week. I was getting discouraged by the time I started putting down the ingredients needed for my first week's worth of South Beach lunches.

By the time I started listing the ingredients I needed to round up for the dinners during the first week, I threw in the towel. I felt that I would have to give up my job to have enough time to buy all the low-carb ingredients and prepare all the tasty-sounding recipes in the South Beach diet.

Smoked salmon frittatas and fancy breakfast dishes with fresh herbs, spinach and various cheeses sound great, but who's got the time?

Evidently, a lot of people. Low-carb diets like Atkins and South Beach are causing a major shift in America's food industry. Meat, eggs and certain dairy products are going great guns. Bread, pasta, fruits and high-carb foods containing sugar are being left on the shelf.

Low-carb diets appear to be more than a passing fad. Franchise restaurants are offering low-carb menu selections.

An estimated 35 million Americans are either on low-carb diets or they are making an effort to cut back on carbohydrates.

The way I understand it, some vegetables are high carb and some are low carb. The same goes for breads and pastas. It's all quite confusing. Another friend boiled it all down to one simple rule: Don't eat anything white.

Other than what I read in the newspaper, I also don't know if these low-carb diets are effective or healthy.

A recent news release by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) reported that life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias have emerged as one of the most serious potential risks for dieters on low-carb, high-protein, high-fat diets.

For my part, I figure that if I spent only a quarter of the time exercising that I would spend shopping for ingredients and preparing low-carb South Beach meals, I would be back in shape in no time.

Well, maybe not in no time, but eventually.

My friend is going ahead with his New Year's resolution to diet and exercise. That's the easy part. It's the ``resolve'' part that is difficult.

Of course, if he ever needs good medical advice, he can always drive another 200 miles and ask the famous doctor.


(The Cox web site is at )

c. 2003 Cox News Service

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