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The Manchurian Candidate Diet
by Mad Dog


So what are dieters supposed to do now that Atkins is cutting back to just making shakes and nutrition bars? Find a new approach. You know, like being lied to. 
Atkins Nutritionals, the company founded by diet guru Robert Atkins to cash in on ó I mean, spread the word about ó his low-carb diet, has filed for bankruptcy. It turns out that people donít really need or want everything to be low-carb. Either that or they discovered they prefer not eating bread and pasta to choking down weird versions made of soy, destarched wheat flour, and partially hydrogenated sawdust. Imagine that.

   The Atkins diet, for those of you who have been holed up waiting for the all-clear signal so you can crawl out of your Y2K bunker, got its start in 1972 as a book. It had a resurgence a few years ago when it became the Cabbage Patch Kids of diets, all the way down to adherents being given a diet certificate with their name on it. Just kidding, actually it was a brochure for Atkins products.

   Everywhere you turned it was low-carb this and low-carb that. Every restaurant advertised a low-carb menu, including steak houses that had only served carb-less slabs of beef for years. You could buy low-carb ice cream, low-carb Coke, and low-carb bottled water. There were even low-carb stores that sold nothing but low-carb products. Well, for two weeks, anyway. Then they realized it was a dumb idea just like everyone else who heard about it knew right off the bat. You could go on a low-carb vacation on Carnival Cruise Lines, buy low-carb magazines ó hopefully for reading, not eating ó and pick up one of the (True Fact Alert!) 3,375 low-carb products that were released last year alone. What was a poor carbohydrate to do?


Thatís called self-deception and it ranks right up there with installing a funhouse mirror in the bedroom. Of course if you do that make sure you get the one that makes you look skinny, not the one that makes you look like Danny Devito.
   In a word, suffer. Potato farmers cut production 13 percent, the makers of Twinkies and Ronzoni spaghetti filed for bankruptcy protection, and Krispie Kremes suddenly lost their luster. Well, in a figurative sense anyway. Donít worry, you can still see them glisten as they come down that Big Conveyor Belt From The Sky and miss the trash can where they belong, winding up in peopleís stomachs instead.

   So what are dieters supposed to do now that Atkins is cutting back to just making shakes and nutrition bars? Find a new approach, of course. You know, like being lied to. Thatís right. Forget South Beach. Forget The Zone. Now you can lie your way to a slimmer you, and best of all, youíre not the one doing the lying. No, you donít need to round up all your friends and ask them to tell you how slim, trim, and good you look when youíre stuffed into a pair of shorts that are two sizes two small and your belly hangs over the waistband like a remake of The Blob. Thatís called self-deception and it ranks right up there with installing a funhouse mirror in the bedroom. Of course if you do that make sure you get the one that makes you look skinny, not the one that makes you look like Danny Devito. No, this is a bona fide, scientific method developed by a group of psychologists at the University of California Irvine (motto: ďI didnít want to go to UCLA anywayĒ) in which they deliberately lie to you, making you believe you donít like a food you actually like so you wonít eat it. Go ahead, read that again if you need to.


Implanting false memories isnít anything new or groundbreaking. In fact, you probably know it by its more common name ó brainwashing. 
   In the experiment, test subjects filled out a form asking about their food preferences and experiences. When they woke up from their stupor they were told that the information had been analyzed and it showed that theyíd gotten sick eating strawberry ice cream as a child. Thereís no explanation about why strawberry was chosen, but I suspect it has to do with big food lobbies and possibly even discrimination against migrant farm workers. Hey, conspiracy theories are a lot more fun than the fact that strawberry ice cream has never made anyone sick.

   Itís important to understand that what the subjects were told was a blatant lie. Lying, it turns out, is okay if itís in the name of science. Or politics. Or business. Well, as long as you donít get caught. The researchers next asked the subjects to provide details about the bogus childhood incident. Oddly, most of them did, even though it never happened. Afterwards, 41 percent of the subjects believed the story they made up and said they would avoid eating strawberry ice cream in the future. They also said they believe in Santa Claus, think The X-Files was a documentary, and ran into Jimmy Hoffa the week before at the Low-Carb Store. Having lunch with Amelia Earhart and ET. A lunch of low-carb pasta, no doubt.

   Implanting false memories isnít anything new or groundbreaking. In fact, you probably know it by its more common name ó brainwashing. Itís been used for years by the military, grade school teachers, Scientology, and George Bush when he uses a phrase Karl Rove taught him over and over until we actually start to believe it. At least we do if we live in a red state. But its use as a diet aid is a new twist, and a pretty good one at that. It requires no addition, is easy to stick with, will slash your strawberry ice cream budget. Would I lie to you?

©2005 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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