By Mordechai Schmutter
Today we bring you some exciting new studies in the field of losing weight.
Losing weight is a subject that weighs heavily (ouch) on the minds of most of our society, and especially tatties, who can’t understand why we’re gaining so much weight when we’re eating exactly the same things we were eating as teenagers.
So we “diet.” Most diets, historically, have been about counting calories, the logic being that you’re less likely to overeat if every time you put something in your mouth, you have to do math first. And the more you eat, the higher the numbers get and the harder the math gets. Especially when it stops being about addition and starts being about multiplication. (“Let’s see, the box had 13 servings. I ate them all. Who knows how to multiply by 13?”) But all these diets require self-discipline, and if I had any self-discipline, I wouldn’t be overweight in the first place.
The other issue is that our bodies are programmed to store fat. In the old days, people didn’t necessarily eat every single day. Even if you had a whole dead cow, you couldn’t save some for later, because there were no refrigerators. You had to eat the whole thing in one sitting. So if you ate more than your body needed, it saved some for later, in your back pocket, in case you didn’t get another cow tomorrow.
So basically, our bodies are always saving food for later. But nowadays there never is a later, because every time we’re hungry enough for our bodies to tap into our food reserve, we just eat more.
It’s kind of like your fridge. Whenever you make too much food, you put the leftovers in the fridge. The next day, when you’re hungry, you have a choice—you can go get the leftovers, which, at best, are not going to be as good as they were yesterday, or you can make some fresh food. So you go for the fresh food, and of course there are leftovers from that too, which go in the fridge, and eventually the fridge door is popping open and you need a belt to hold it closed. So probably, a very effective diet would be to once in a while not eat anything, and let your body subsist on the food that’s already in there. Kind of like right before Pesach, when you decide to get rid of all the leftovers in your fridge and the half-eaten contents of your cabinets, so you start making weird combinations out of what’s already there, and you end up with things like “rye kishka,” which I made this year for Shabbos HaGadol. It wasn’t any kind of good.
So to make things more appealing, scientists keep coming up with diets, none of which really work, because (1) everybody’s body is different, and (2) no matter what you do, your body is programmed to save food for later, so if you continue with any single diet for more than a week, your body will figure it out and adjust to store food from that as well, but that’s okay, because (3) no one ever sticks with a diet long enough for that to happen.
Which brings us to the good news: Scientists have now come up with even more diets! Woo-hoo. For example, researchers found that people who eat chocolate on a regular basis tend to have a lower body mass than people who don’t eat it as often.
The study was highly scientific, at least according to the article I read. They did it by questionnaire. They had 1,000 men and women fill out a form, and one question was, “How many times a week do you eat chocolate?” And it turns out that the ones who wrote higher numbers were thinner.
Yeah. I say the ones with lower numbers were lying. If you eat an embarrassing amount of chocolate, you’re going to make up a ridiculously low number to compensate. Or maybe they’re telling the truth. It could be that they eat chocolate only once a week because they go shopping only once a week, buy enough for the week, and then eat it all in the car on the way home.
And then there’s a study from the Tel Aviv University that says that you can lose weight by having cake with breakfast. And eating it too!
Wait. Slight clarification: You’re supposed to have a piece of cake, not an entire cake. We apologize to anyone who put down this article after the previous sentence and polished off an entire cake.
Um, I didn’t cut it, so it was technically one piece.
The article that I found explained the science behind it, although I didn’t really understand most of it. But does it matter? Cake for breakfast!
Cake with breakfast.
And why just breakfast? I’ll eat cake all day. Whatever it takes!
This time, researchers conducted an actual study, using about 200 people divided into two groups. Both groups were fed a balanced diet for 32 weeks, but the first group was fed a 300-calorie breakfast, while the second group was fed a 600-calorie breakfast that included chocolate cake for dessert. Over the course of the study, the people in the first group lost an average of 33 pounds per person, and then put 22 back on, while the second group lost an average of 48 pounds per person.
So obviously, the first group was sneaking cake. They’re not fooling anyone.
According to Professor Daniela Jakubowicz, who conducted the study, “The participants in the first group had less satisfaction and felt they were not full.”
That was my guess. They were thinking, “Hey! How come the other group gets cake?”
She also said that “attempting to avoid sweets entirely can create a psychological addiction to these same foods in the long term.”
I don’t understand, though. I’ve been eating cake for years. Why do I keep gaining weight? So apparently, I’ve been doing it wrong. You’re supposed to eat the cake with breakfast. Apparently, there’s something about breakfast time that—well, that’s the part I didn’t really understand. So now, in addition to eating cake all day, I’m going to add a piece to breakfast. Wish me luck.
Also, if you want to get technical, the study says the rest of the breakfast is supposed to be healthy. But frankly, that’s not the part that made headlines.
No one cares. Stop talking. You had us at “cake.”
This part would actually lead to a major lifestyle change. Most people I know don’t really eat breakfast. Who has time for breakfast? Growing up, I’d always heard it was the most important meal of the day. But why? I’m not even hungry. I just woke up, and I had a pretty big midnight snack.
It turns out that we actually eat backwards. Our bodies always think we’re eating to have energy for later, but we’ve gotten into the habit of eating to replenish energy we’ve already expended. We have big suppers and small breakfasts. We’re supposed to eat for the future, but we eat for the past. But you don’t buy gas because your car is tired from yesterday. You do it so you can drive today.
Another reason we eat this way is that it’s all about prep time. In the old days, they didn’t have time to make supper, because they had to finish eating before it got dark, or else the animals would come and attempt to schnorr food. So in the morning, they woke up starving, at the crack of dawn, like three hours before normal breakfast time, and they had nothing to do but make breakfast.
My point, though, is that this cake thing is a great diet. It’s one of those diets where you can make the food, and everyone will eat it—even your kids. (“Oh, so Tatty’s on a diet, and now we all have to eat cake?”) On the other hand, diets, by definition, are hard to stick to. Some days you’ll be like, “I can’t eat cake anymore. I have to have carrots.” But you can’t give in. You’re doing this for your kids. v
Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. His newest book, Cholent Mix, will be released soon. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com.