Today is a soup and fruit day - one of the sort of days where I don't want anything except liquids in food form.
So I'm sitting at the computer, reading websites and eating a can of "tropical fruit salad" that consists of mango, papaya, and pineapple bits in juice, and thinking about fruit and soup, and all the ridiculous diets I've tried over the years that involved copious amounts of fruit, soup, or both. I'm waiting for someone to come out with the "Fruit Soup Diet" (watch; it will come out next year), claiming that sugar isn't the enemy, it's High Fructose Corn Syrup*, and as long as you take in your sugar as pure syrup squeezed from the sugar cane plant (my local chi-chi grocery store sells the canes) and fruit, you'll lose all the weight you want, because sugar increases your metabolism.
(This diet not recommended for anyone with diabetes, insulin intolerance, hypoglycaemia, and anyone who thinks about diabetes every time Wilford Brimley appears on TV.)
I mean, I've watched people drink nasty lemon juice and cayenne pepper with the claim that it boosts your metabolism and burns fat, and that you're totes not just losing weight because you're taking in roughly three calories a day, and you'll gain it all back as soon as you stop, because you've sent your body into starvation mode, so fruit soup should gain some followers, right?
I remember the Cabbage Soup Diet - the one that said all the cabbage soup you could force down, plus vegetables one day and fruit the next - and I remember that for some reason, you weren't allowed bananas on that diet. I think the theory was that bananas have more sugar in them than other fruits, and that if you were allowed to eat bananas, you'd eat nothing but bananas, and gain weight. Never mind the fact that you'd have to eat 20 large bananas to take in 2000 calories and I defy anyone to eat 20 bananas more than once.
(I mean, I love bananas, but 20? *blorp*)
(That reminds me, my cousins used to eat bananas mushed up with brown sugar sprinkled on top. We, on the other hand, whipped egg whites with sugar until they were stiff, and ate that. We called it "fluffy egg", and it's a wonder none of us ever got food poisoning from eating raw egg whites.)
(I bet The Fluffy Egg Diet would be followed by people if it promised it would make them lose weight. Dieting has nothing to do with health, just looking thinner, and people put the most extraordinary things in their bodies as long as it promises that, and to hell with the health consequences.)
As I recall, the Beverly Hills Diet featured vast amounts of fruit, and the resulting intestinal distress caused by suddenly mainlining the produce aisle was touted as "fat leaving the body!". The only medications that cause fat to leave the body in one's fecal matter are the ones that block the body's absorbtion of fat, which isn't the fat you already have, just the fat in the food you just ate.
(I am told that the results of eating a Big Mac meal while on Alli are truly a horror show. Epic, even.)
I like fruit. I like vegetables, which wasn't always the case (I liked some, but not many), but I think that veggies such as spinach are too bitter for a child's palate, and some vegetable rejection is to be expected from children. As we get older, our taste buds become less sensitive (except for a small group of people), and things like spinach and brussels sprouts taste less bitter, allowing us to sense the other flavours in the vegetable. I think the current US hatred of vegetables (like in the V8 ads, which make me want to spit) is due in large part to poor cooking choices, a lack of imagination in vegetable choices, and a refusal to grow up and try new things.
Seriously, I can't stand the "steamed vegetable" side that is the only non-potato or rice option in most restaurants; it's either under or over-cooked, and it always features broccoli. Fire-roasted peppers, or tomatoes, grilled banana peppers and onions, or cauliflower, or eggplant, or parsnips, or... there are so many more vegetables out there than overcooked green beans with ham and limp broccoli. Every time I am served a sad pile of carrots and broccoli in a restaurant, I actually sympathize with people who refuse to eat their vegetables.
But that's the only time. Vegetables are awesome, as are salads, but you know what? When I was always on a diet, and being shamed for eating anything, vegetables were a chore and a misery. When a life full of steamed vegetables without any flavour and iceberg lettuce with fat-free ranch dressing is before you, you can't help but rebel and want a grilled cheese sandwich.
(Bob makes an awesome grilled cheese with tomato and onion. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.)
When food is divided into good and bad, and when you are told that you must never, ever, not even once, eat anything on the "bad" list, then vegetable hate is guaranteed, and everything on the "good" list is unsatisfying. Worse than that, diets cause binge eating of carbohydrate, fat and sugar-heavy foods, because a diet devoid of all those things is not balanced, and causes people to crave what they cannot have.
I used to binge eat in between unsuccessful dieting. The prospect of going back on the diet after the forbidden food made me cram as much as I could into my mouth, far beyond what I could comfortably eat, because tomorrow I would be eating boring vegetables and chicken grilled with no sauce of any kind. No sugar, no fat, no carbs. Vegetables without any salt or oil are dull to most palates, and it doesn't even require much of either to make veggies taste sublime. The oil helps the vegetable to cook properly, and the salt enhances the flavours present in the vegetable. I love winter squash with a little bit of butter, and peppers roasted in a little olive oil are sublime.
(There is nothing more disgusting than fat-free ranch dressing, I'm telling you. It's too sweet and has a horrible mouth feel.)
Vegetables can be beautiful delicious things, but advertising in the US seems to be pushing the "vegetables are ucky" meme harder than ever. Chef Boyardee promotes the fact that there's a full serving of vegetables in every can of their pasta by implying that a child won't eat it if they're told the dreaded v-word, so mommy and daddy have to lie. The aforementioned V8 pushes their juice drink that has veggie juice by showing adults spitting out brussels sprouts into their napkins, and salads are endlessly derided as "girl food", therefore men should never eat salads, or any vegetables, in case they get contaminated with girl cooties.
It's a failure of imagination, and years of careful brainwashing by the meat lobbies that puts a huge hunk of animal protein front and center of our meals. "I'm a meat and potatoes man" implies manliness, rugged individualism and a Joe Six-Pack sensibility.
I imagine the manliness is somewhat undercut by the scurvy. Give me a ratatouille any day.
*Eeeevil. Eeeeeeeviiiiiiiiiiil. HFCS is in too many things, and studies appear to be showing that it stimulates the appetite much like msg, and makes people crave more fat and sugar, and take longer to feel satisfied. Those ads that have people going "HFCS is just like sugar" are sponsored by the corn lobby. But you knew that.