I was talking to my tennis teacher yesterday about Ed.
My tennis teacher is a big Italian guy who is frequently trying to lose 30 pounds. Since I am frequently trying to lose 5 pounds, we talk about food and weight a lot.
For the past month I've been keeping him apprised of my efforts to become a 'vegan.'1
The latest news: Ed, who has no interest in becoming a vegan, has lost weight. Three pounds, possibly 4.2 He has lost weight entirely because he is married to a woman who is interested in becoming a vegan. Which is annoying because Ed was already extremely thin; Ed was already so thin he is borderline too thin for my tastes. Now he's thinner.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the Ed transformation, the Times ran an article on the Calerie study, a project looking at people who reduce their daily calories by 25 percent for two years.
For me, the most amazing finding of the study is the fact that its subjects have actually managed to remain in the study. That is the revelation, not the fantastic drops in cholesterol and blood pressure, etc. Although I've lost weight a number of times over the years, I'm not sure I've ever stuck to a reduced-calorie diet for more than a few days in a row; the notion of living on a restricted-calorie diet for two years is inconceivable.
But the Calerie people have done it, and apparently we know the secret of their success: they all switched to low-energy density foods. Vegetables, fruits, and soup: 3
Apples are superb in this regard. At the medical centers running Calerie, you see a lot of people walking around eating apples. Even subjects who disliked apples have discovered that calorie restriction, which generally has the effect of making food taste better, has given them a surprising desire for the fruit.I don't happen to like apples, particularly. Or fruit, generally.4 I so lack a taste for fruit that I have to set a formal goal of consuming 4 fruits a day & keep a running tally to hit the mark. Even then, likely as not I won't make it.
When I asked Susan Roberts, who runs the Tufts study, if there was a danger in Americans trying calorie restriction on their own, without a dedicated team of medical experts offering advice, she suggested that there are built-in safety mechanisms. Roberts said she didn’t think anyone would be successful by reducing portion size. “If you don’t change your diet to a high-satiety diet, you will be hungry, and you will fail,” she told me. A high-satiety diet, she said, was bound to be a healthful diet with a lot of vegetables, fruits and insoluble fiber — the kind found in some breakfast cereals, like Fiber One — that her research indicates has a unique effect in helping calorie-restriction subjects feel fuller, probably because they activate certain receptors in the lower intestine. Roberts added, “If people are doing this on their own and succeeding, well, I’d be surprised if they’re eating a lot of Hostess Twinkies.”
Ed, on the other hand, loves fruit.
Yesterday Ed mentioned that he keeps a bag of apples on his desk at work. A bag. He snacks on apples all day long; he eats at least 4 apples a day, he said.
I had no idea.
Something else I didn't know: since age 22 he's been eating soup for lunch.
And apples. Four apples, at least. Every day.
I didn't know.
He basically invented the Volumetrics diet when he graduated college & didn't think to mention it to anyone he happened to be married to who might be trying to lose weight.
So I was telling my tennis teacher about the Ed diet. Soup and apples, I said. The Ed diet. We should all try it.
My tennis teacher said I should write it up, and now I have.
1 How I dislike that word! Who came up with it? And why? Do we know?
2 I've lost 5, but I've been trying.
3 Barbara Rolls is always cited for her work on low-energy density foods & satiety.
4 I do like Twinkies.