As we inch towards the new year, approximately two thirds of the United States is planning a new diet come Jan 1. (cough cough, myself included) In the US the portion sizes are 3x what they should be, we snack constantly, eat convenient processed food, and rarely exercise. The result is a steady 2-5 pounds a year of weight gain until you reach the “oh shit” stage whereupon you realize your scheduled beach vacation is three months away and you look like a bloated Steven Seagal with an all-you-can-eat card for the local Krispy Kreme. You don’t dare wear that fancy speedo you bought for fear of being mistaken for a beached whale. (yes, this is a true story minus the speedo part. Unless you’re an Olympic swimmer, under no circumstances should men rock the banana hammock. Sorry, those are just the rules)
Given this, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share some insights into my PhD research. I’m planning on a doctorate in applied bio-electrical nutrition and chemical manipulation of the ribosome. It’s an at-home study course. Given the costs of education these days, this one seemed pretty reasonable. Only 10 payments of $899 and you can call me Dr Troutdog! Anyway, as part of my thesis work, I’ve identified the five primary eating genotypes in the United States. They are as follows:
- The Apathetic Eater – These people are freaks and should be shunned. They generally don’t care about food. They eat only because they have to. They pick at salads and eat half a bowl of cereal in the morning. That’s it. They’ve been thin their entire lives and don’t understand how people get fat. A large percentage of them are vegetarian or some weird fruitarian thing. They don’t exercise and often get blown over in storms. Usually, they’re cat people because they lack the strength to hold on to a dog leash without getting pulled down the street like an out-of-control dog sled.
- The Disciplined Eater – Also freaks of nature. These eaters count calories, macronutrients, and usually meal plan and prep a week at a time. Very often they’re athletes. Or at the very least, crossfitters (don’t worry, they’ll tell you). They follow very strict diets – Keto, Paleo, IIFYM, etc… These freaks have goals for each week, quarter, and year. They track everything in journals. Be careful with conversations with these folks because they’ll overwhelm you with acronyms about total energy expenditures, insulin and glycemic to fat burning ratios. Their idea of a cheat meal is indulging in a light beer and an extra portion of sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. When around these people you’ll generally feel bad about yourself for not wanting to wake up at 04:30 to work out or join them in the polar bear plunge on New Year’s Day.
- The Guilty Eater – This is probably the average eater in the US. They’ve put on weight, know it, and desperately want to “get healthy”. They join, or re-join, a gym every year and go for about a month. Once a quarter they start a new diet they heard about from Dr Oz (senator?) and Oprah. The cabbage soup and raw lemon-rind snack diet works for a week or so and then fails due to consumption of three-quarters of a meat lovers pizza in a fit of near-cannibalistic hunger. These folks don’t eat breakfast, order a salad with no dressing when out to lunch with co-workers, and then binge three doughnuts in the breakroom at work. There’s a secret stash of candy and chips in the car and on the back shelf of the pantry. Dieting is just so hard when you have to make a ginormous lasagna, bread, and desert to feed the three kids. These poor souls know they need to lose weight and hate themselves every time they sneak some Taco Bell on the way home.
- The Gluttonous Eater – Often found in the south, these folks either truly don’t understand the concept of a calorie, or just don’t care. They eat with abandon. Anything and everything. If it’s not deep fried, what’s the point? They tend to see themselves as just “big boned”. Usually they’re very happy folks, hard workers, and often great cooks. They’re plagued with health issues and are puzzled at how they “caught the diabetes”. Their grandparents and parents ate this way, and so do they. They don’t see the need to “diet” other than switch to diet Coke occasionally. The other side of the coin in this category are the folks who have some mental health issues and eat as some sort of coping mechanism. Probably the saddest group of all. The morbidly obese who’ve simply given up.
- The Balanced Eater – The unicorn (at least in the United States). The eater who exercises regularly, but not compulsively. They enjoy food, but somehow manage to keep their calories in check. They’ll enjoy a good meal but have figured out the whole moderation thing. They’re happy and balanced. They are a rare find. They are subjects of a great deal of research. We all strive to find that magic pill or diet that gives us what they have – a healthy outlook on food, exercise and the willpower to maintain those habits without guilt, obsession, or overthinking it. They are hated by most of the population.
So, what kind of eater are you? If you’ve been reading any of my previous ramblings, you’ll recognize I’m clearly in the Guilty Eater category. I had a few brief flirtations with the Disciplined Eater, but it flamed out fairly quickly. I go through weird food compulsions (croutons, rice, pretzels, Pirates Booty (it’s gluten free!) chips, cheese, etc…) Why is it so hard to just eat normally and get some exercise? We really are a ridiculous population in this country. Laziness and sloth have taken root and I fear are here to stay. Like the Roman Empire, we became fat and complacent, living for our entertainment and pleasures. And when the zombie apocalypse comes, very few of us will have the cardio to survive*.
I wish you luck with your diet plans in the New Year. I have three months to drop approximately thirty pounds before I can stroll down the beach in my leopard print banana hammock. I have full confidence I will achieve my goals. Starting tomorrow. Wait, you can’t start on a weekend. Starting on Monday. For sure.
* Rule #1 of the 32 rules of Zombieland