In Woody Allen's 1973 movie "Sleeper" where he's cryogenically frozen and wakes up in the future, 22nd century doctors puzzle over their subject's peculiar and antiquated dietary demands. For breakfast, he requested, "wheat germ, organic honey and Tiger's Milk."
Muses the other doctor: "Oh yes, those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties."
First doctor, in surprise: "You mean there was no deep fat? No steak, or cream pies, or hot fudge?"
Chuckles the second: "Those were thought to be unhealthy. Precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true!"
I cite this, because although it is now only the 21st century, it is the month of January — the month of reckoning — and God knows which foods are truly healthy now.
It began for me when my doctor announced that my weight was "creeping" upwards. Another six pounds and I would be pre-diabetic — a scary announcement that caused my blood pressure to skyrocket, of course, followed by the onset of my frantic bi-annual diet.
My diet of choice is the Zone Diet: It's high protein, low carb and low fat. So what I'm committing to — or I should say recommitting to, since I have been down this road before — is a virtuous, energetic life. Because that's the great thing about The Zone, it gives you energy! Because you're joyously rushing around to farmer's markets burning fat or glutamine or eicosanoids or something! Because you're powered by the clean fuel of Greek yogurt, egg whites, mushrooms, broccoli and, of course, that guilt-free and wonderfully versatile vegetable called cauliflower!
Cauliflower leads the host of clever and satisfying Zone food substitutions. Powered by the laser will of one's own heightened perceptions, instead of the carb-heavy mashed potatoes the family is eating, mom enjoys mashed cauliflower. While the family dines on pasta with red sauce, mom spoons red sauce on strings of eggplant she deftly ran through a mandoline. Instead of the family's battered fried fish, mom dips fillets into egg whites and cleverly throws on a pinch of ground almond for crust.
Instead of the family's favorite pad thai? "Wait a minute!" I think, at 6 p.m., hunting excitedly through my pantry. Substitute zero-calorie kelp noodles for pad thai noodles; egg-whites for egg; Splenda for sugar; smother with flavorful fresh lime, cilantro, bean sprouts.
I take a bite and for 10 seconds, I can click my red shoes together and taste pad thai. But then it feels like I am masticating watery ketchup slathered over expired Christmas tree tinsel. It's the most horrible thing I've ever eaten. My children think it's hilarious.
Next week: A virtuous and energetic life, but I'm still gaining weight!