Here's a tip for all you married guys out there. When it's your wife's birthday, don't ever get her a book, or anything else for that matter, with the word "fat" in the title.
I thought I was being nice. On my way to buy Dianne another gift, I had just heard an interview on NPR with a doctor who had written a book called Fat Chance. It was all about how one calorie is not like another calorie. If you eat stuff like nuts that take longer to work their way through your system, you'll feel full longer and eat less. Dianne's very interested in healthy cooking and nutrition, so I picked it up on a whim.
I wasn't implying anything. As a matter of fact, Dianne is anything but overweight. I just thought she'd find the book interesting. (As it turns out, she says it's pretty dry.)
But now comes news that vindicates me to some extent. A major study finds that the Mediterranean (think Italian) diet of nuts and fruit and stuff like that lowers your chances of heart disease by 30%.
The study did not explain why the Godfather died of a heart attack while chasing his grandson though his tomato garden. I guess he had a lot of stress what with all the murders, so he was apparently an outlier. The results of the study were so impressive that researchers felt ethically bound to end it early and report the results.
However, I don't want to follow the complete program. I'm going to pick and choose what I like from the study. Here are the recommended foods and my thoughts on them.
Fish: Sure, why not? I like fish. Battered and deep-fried on a Friday night with tartar sauce is best, but I like it in most forms.
Fresh fruits and vegetables: What's not to like? Well, beets. I hate beets. But everything else is good. I'm even coming around on the controversial issue of Brussels sprouts.
Olive oil: Already with that program. We buy it by the gallon around here.
Wine: Seven glasses a week. Yes! I guess I can cut back if I have to, but more is better, no?
Legumes: Check. All for it. I'm also calling my broker and telling her to buy the company that makes Beano right now.
Less commercial baked products: I'm okay with this. I eat only Dianne's home baked goods. Dianne is to baking what Picasso was to painting and what Lance Armstrong was to biking except without the drugs.
Less red meat and dairy products: Now, here's where I have a problem. This part of the study is pure quackery. I really like a nice, thick juicy steak, and bacon, well bacon is the food of the gods. And I like milk with my cookies and butter on everything and half and half in my coffee. And if I have to have another glass of wine to cut the fat intake, well, so be it. Maybe I'd live longer without this stuff, but what would be the point?
I also want to stipulate right now that I have come to love warm cheesy dip with my salsa and chips. The paramedics will get my jar of cheese when they pry it from my cold, dead hand.
What I like most about this study is its attitude, which is basically, hey, enjoy! So, you're a little overweight, so big deal.
We Americans have a stupid relationship with food. On the one hand we eat a lot of poor quality processed, corn syrup-infused junk that doesn't even taste all that good, and then we swing into hair shirt-like diets that take all the joy out of eating, only to break and gorge again on the bad stuff.
Then on the other side of the spectrum you have the conspicuous consumption food snobs. The people who will only eat organic Mac and cheese. The people who take all the joy out of food by making eating a political fashion statement. They make me want to eat Fritos in their presence just as a protest against pretentiousness.
So, I like this Italian thing. Eat. Drink. Enjoy. Take a nap. Tell a joke. Change the government. Re-elect Berlusconi. Whatever. Have another glass of wine.