Snack On This

TO WIT

October 18, 1992|By DAVE BARRY

We can learn a lot about proper eating habits by watching the behavior of wildlife creatures. Take toads. You don't see toads fluctuating wildly in weight and obsessing about food and constantly going on diets and then sneaking into the kitchen at 2 a.m. and consuming an entire Sara Lee banana cake (serves 12).

No, when a toad gets hungry, it simply flicks out its tongue and snares a natural, high-protein, zero preservatives, low-fat moth. The toad gulps the moth down whole, and bang, just like that, it's finished with the whole eating thing. Freed from the tyranny of food obsession, the toad can now get on with other activities, such as pondering the fact that there is a whole live moth in its stomach.

This is why toads always look vaguely worried. They are thinking that maybe they should chew their food before they swallow it, except that -- Nature can be cruel -- toads don't have teeth.

This problem led to a groundbreaking 1982 experiment at the University of Wisconsin, wherein biologists, using a $7.3 million federal grant, fitted a group of toads with dentures, then observed them over a five-year period, at the end of which they reported that the toads "seemed to be in a good mood."

So we can see how important it is to have a sensible, long-term eating regimen and realistic dietary goals. I myself was on a sensible, long-term eating regimen until nearly 10:30 this morning, when I finally achieved my dietary goal of locating where my wife put the box of Cheez-Its. These are my favorite snack crackers because they contain "riboflavin" and have a radioactive orange color that makes them easy to locate in the dark. Plus they're good for your heart: Like every other product now sold in the United States, they come in a package marked "Low Cholesterol." Heart care is a top priority with me, so I ate the whole box.

The problem with doing this is that Cheez-Its also contain calories, which our bodies turn into fat. Of course it could be worse. Imagine if our bodies turned them into, say, linoleum, or surplus body parts:

Bob: Hi, Frank!

Frank: Hi, Bob! Say, I notice you have eight noses.

Bob: I know. I gotta go on a diet.

When Bob (not his real name) does go on a diet, chances are he will eat at salad bars. I eat at salad bars constantly, because that way I can put a little lettuce on my plate and cover it with cheese, bacon, pasta, potato salad, Roquefort dressing, etc., and still be able to say that all I ate for lunch was a "salad."

The problem is that I keep getting stuck in line behind salad scientists. These are people who make a salad as if it were some kind of nuclear-fission experiment, subjecting each leaf and sprout to intense scrutiny. The worst is when you're behind two of them, because then they have to discuss everything:

First salad scientist: I like string beans in a salad, but I don't like the looks of this string bean.

Second salad scientist: No, that looks a little pale to me. But then I don't care for string beans in a salad.

First salad scientist: Now this string bean looks a little better to me.

Second salad scientist: Well, if you ask me, it's a little on the brownish side. But then I don't caaaiieeeee (sound of me stabbing the second scientist with a pair of coleslaw tongs).

L First salad scientist: I don't care for coleslaw in a salad.

Another problem is that many diets simply don't work. Statistics show that people who go on gimmicky or "crash" diets will gain all the weight back within a year; whereas people who follow realistic, long-term diet regimens will never lose any weight at all. That's because they're all eating so-called "frozen yogurt," which I strongly suspect is a fraud.

Ask yourself: Does "frozen yogurt" taste anything like regular yogurt? No, it does not. Regular yogurt tastes healthy, by which I mean, bad. Whereas "frozen yogurt" tastes good. I'm positive that if you dug beneath a "frozen yogurt" store, you'd find large hidden underground pipes leading directly to a Dairy Queen. Think about it! I'd think about it myself, but this riboflavin is starting to kick in.

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