Let Them Eat... Wait, That's Not Allowed On This Diet

Just when you thought ALL the funny material that could ever be written about cats already existed, a new book comes along to challenge your perspective and make you ask, "Huh. Are more jokes about overweight tabbies really necessary in my life?" 

The answer is yes, yes they are. I'm happy to announce that Ten Speed Press/Random House has picked up the contract on my next book. Does This Collar Make My Butt Look Big? A Diet Book for Cats will be released in Fall 2013. 

Similar to the set-up of my last book where each chapter parodied a popular self-help book on the market, this book attacks human diets and exercise plans and examines them from a cat's pont of view, which is is to say the diets are viewed while napping upside down over the edge of the couch. 

Needless to say, I've spent a whole lotta time this summer reading diet books. Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, Raw Food, Slow Carb, Dukan, all carb, no carb, fasts, cleanses, celebrity diets... there's no lack of material to pull from.

Given my interest in diet and exercise, I thought the research aspect would be fun. Instead, I'm about one "Ultimate Smoothie!" recipe away from curling into the fetal position in front of the fridge and never eating again. 

Here's what I've learned in my month of research: 

  • No matter what diet or "life eating plan" you chose, it should be heavy on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Except you should eat only very limited fruit due to the high sugar content.
  • Except the sugar in fruit is healthy so it's okay. 
  • Except when it's not because sugar is sugar to the body. So no fruit.
  • Whole grains are essential for energy and to ward off hunger, excpet no one should be eating wheat and we should all be fat-burning, not sugar-burning, machines which means very low carbs, period. So no whole grains.
  • Quinoa is high in protein and perfect to use as a replacement for whole grains such as rice or pasta.
  • Except quinoa has some enzyme blocking thingee that the body has to work to hard to digest around so for God's sake, don't eat quinoa! 
  • Tim Ferris says we should go slow carb and rely on lentils and beans for energy.
  • Paleo insists legumes of any sort are bad for you.
  • Red meat is artery clogging and should be avoided. Only problem is there are a bunch of super-fit meat-guzzling Paleo people running around proving that theory wrong
  • The only thing that matters is calories. Calories expended have to be more than calories taken in. It's that simple. 
  • Calories don't matter at all. The only way to lose weight is to reduce sugar and carbs. 
  • Eat soy.
  • Don't eat soy. 
  • Cheese and milk are good for you. 
  • Want to accelerate cancer growth and die young? Keep eating cheese and milk. 

That's just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. The contradictions go on and on. No wonder people are confused. I certainly don't have the answers but given my own experiences and what I've read, here are some general principles I've come to rely on. 

Dena's Food Tips 

  1. Knowing your sugar/carb intake is much more important than counting calories. For weight loss, aim to keep sugar around 15g/day and carbs around 120. 
  2. Dairy is bad. Organic eggs excluded. 
  3. You can't go wrong with vegetables, especially dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and chard. 
  4. Wheat is best avoided but, recognizing this is hard to do, should at least be limited. Aim for sprouted grains pasta and breads
  5. A little quinoa is not going to hurt anyone
  6. Fruit is fine, just remember the 15 grams of sugar per day "rule" and plan accordingly
  7. Any smoothie you don't make yourself is loaded with sugar. Beware.
  8. One cheat day or cheat meal a week is a good thing. It's easier to resist temptation during the week if you know you can go a little crazy on Saturday. 
  9. It's a good idea to have one pure protein (no or super low carbs) day a week. (I haven't actually tried this, but a lot of what I read points to it as a good weekly re-start tool for your body.) 
  10. Healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, nuts, nut butters) go a long way toward keeping hunger at bay

 Naturally, all the above is subject to change on a whim. Or if I'm craving some chocolate.