Fendel recently took umbrage of my snarky remarks against Atkins in my recent post about their bankruptcy. In the comments they wrote:
I get so irritated seeing people taking easy swipes at Atkins when they’ve never actually read the book or done the diet. It’s done a world of good for a lot of us.
There are many ways in which I could respond to this, but each would lead to a very distinct train of thought and could, quite frankly, lead to a 3000 word post. No one wants that, I assure you.
I could write about my times on Atkins (6 weeks). I could write about how the same diets affect different people in different ways. I could also write about how transparently greedy the Atkins company got, whoring their name on any product that even slightly smelled of being “carb-free” or “carb-reduced”. I could also write about the sheer volume of medical testimony stating how dangerous the Atkins diet is, coming from such “questionable” experts as the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association (just to name a few).
Instead, however, I will write about me and my opinion of brand name diets…because this is what I do.
Fendel, rest assured that I am glad that you lost weight and that you are healthier. This is indeed a good thing. We should all aspire to be healthier, if only because it means we may get to enjoy our lives that much longer. I bear no ill will to anyone who gets healthier.
My issue with the Atkins diet and all other brand name diets that come and go (see, it’s not just Atkins I dislike…I’m an equal opportunity hater), is how selfish these programs are, and how they manipulate people into thinking that their specific diet is the one and only panacea to weight loss and being healthy.
Think about every diet weight loss story you have heard. “I’ve lost weight on the Atkins diet”, “I lost weight on the South Beach Diet” or even “I lost weight on the cabbage soup diet”. The critical part of each of these sentence is at the very beginning…the “I lost weight…” aspect. In my opinion, the prepositional phrase of “on the such-n-such diet” is completely irrelevent.
Every diet prescribes an eating discipline of some sort or another. “Eat only grapefruit” or “Avoid foods high in fat” or “Don’t eat so much bread” are all examples of specific disciplines. They are prescribed because someone, somewhere, probably did lose some weight under the guidelines that they are advocating. But the majority of their eating disciplines are hardly radical. As far as I’ve been able to discern, 95% of all diets are a derivation of the “Eat smaller portions/Eat less starch, sugar, fat/eat more fruits, veggies, protein” mantra. These are hardly new ideas. The diet industry simply likes us to believe that they are.
My take on every diet is as follows: It’s rarely the specifics of the diet that creates the weight loss, but rather the level of food discipline that the dieter applies to their eating habits that affects their weight loss.
Or to put it another way, it’s not Atkins that made you lose weight, it was you. Atkins was simply the car you decided to show up in.
But the majority of diets don’t want you to know this. Most diets have a vested financial interest in making claims that their diet is the best (and sometimes only) way to lose weight.
There are caveats to this of course. Our bodies have a great diversity, and what is effective for one is not effective for another. But again, diets rarely take this into consideration because it punctures their illusion that their diet is the end-all be all.
I am very cynical towards diets and the diet industry, because they tend to take credit for the accomplishments of the individual. Jenny Craig didn’t make you lose weight, you did. It’s time that consumers started understanding this.