Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan program, just another diet!

authors: Rachael Heller et al

For starters, this is not a new diet but a modification of a VERY old diet which I did 30 years ago. i.e. you eat one meal a day (anything you want) and nothing else.  The Carbohydrate Addict Diet modification is that you can have two small other meals or snacks of zero or almost zero grams carbs.

We might wonder what is the definition of a Carbohydrate Addict but Dr Heller does not really tell us this.  Vague statements are made, some of which suggest hypoglycemia and others which refer to 'insulin' which is bad unless it's caused by smoking (in which case, it helps keep the weight down, according to Heller).  Other statements point out that if a person craves the potato chips he or she has in the pantry, he or she must be a carb addict.  If the person starts eating those chips and can't stop with one, that proves he or she is a carb addict, says Dr Heller.  I'm not convinced. Potato chips and other calorie dense foods are so delicious, they are seductive and of course, one has a difficult time stopping eating anything one finds very delicious.  It's called human nature, Dr Heller!  (I wonder how Dr Heller would explain the fact that I have a difficult time stopping eating Brie Cheese, a non carbohydrate food which I find very delicious!)

OK, so even it if is an old diet and there probably is no such thing as a 'Carbohydrate Addict', I still wanted to read the book because once Oprah says 'buy it', it becomes an American Institution (practically). :)

By the way, if you are wondering how this 'diet' came to be, an old article I clipped a couple of years ago might shed some light. Rachael Heller lost 150 lbs by only eating one meal a day, stated the article, and her hubby, seeing a saleable commodity, modified the diet to make it more 'modern' and palpatable to the American palate.  The original book, The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet and a few sequels sold modest amounts for the first few years after publication.  And then, a couple of months ago, Oprah Winfrey, the talk show diva, weary of the low fat diet and exercise which had worked to keep her weight down for five years, found the book, and presented it, and the Hellers, on her show.  By one hour after the airing of that Oprah show, all the bookstores in the country were sold out of the Hellers' latest offering, The Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Program.  The following week or next, not surprisingly, the Heller book had risen to the number one best seller in the country.  Quite a windfall for an old diet with a new look.  Don't you wish you had thought of it, the first time you went on a one meal a day diet? 

I am very unimpressed with the book.  It has problems similar to other quack books i.e. few, if any cites and what cites he gives for his generalized statements are not what I call reliable (like PREVENTION MAGAZINE - I've seen MORE WRONG info coming out of that periodical than right info).  But it has another thing going which I find rather annoying - he's obviously writing it to sell, telling folks what they want to hear!

For example, he makes the statement that it's a healthy thing to give up smoking but then goes into a long explanation of how smoking raises the basal metabolism and how if you smoke it helps to control your weight etc etc. He 'forgets' to mention the ill side effects and the bottom line is that the woman reading that who smokes will think "Oh, cool, look at how smoking is helping me keep my weight down" and she'll feel good.

The truth about smoking besides the DEVASTATING and I mean, DEVASTATING health effects i.e. heart attack, COPD, lung cancer, any cancer and more is that it does NOTHING to help the basal metabolism OR the weight.  A long term study of hundreds of people, smokers and non smokers, over a twenty year period showed that the smokers gained MORE WEIGHT in twenty years than did the non smokers.  So much for smoking keeping the weight down!

By the way, a friend of mine told me that she and her hubby, both smokers, are visiting the doctor today to see if hubby has emphesema. He's around 55 years old - same age as Gerry and I.

The book is filled with statements and inuendos which people want to hear. Some of which are:

1. Milk is not necessary
2. You crave carbs because of a physical thing (not because it's enjoyable to eat potato chips... note: carbs INCLUDE veggies and who the heck CRAVES much for his main premise).
3. Smoking keeps weight down
4. It's "OK" to have a couple of drinks a day, even hard booze.
5. Exercising doesn't really help much so if you 'don't have time' to do it, that's OK (people will LOVE that one - that's probably what SOLD Oprah on it!).

In the first couple of chapters, Heller offers a test to see if the reader is a carb addict (the book is heavy with disclaimers by the way - he knows how to cover his rear!) and he says that this test is just as good as the blood workup (there is a disclaimer in small print which says the opposite though).  The way the test is written, if the reader taking it is at ALL human, they will come out at least 'mildly addicted' to carbs which means that they need, according to Dr Heller anyway, Dr Heller's program to 'help' them.

The only thing which will make the weight 'drop off' according the Dr Heller (who is a psychologist, by the way, not an MD as he would like folks to think) is (we knew this) HIS program!

But drop weight off is not what Oprah did, the first month she was on it.  On a recent update show, she presented people who HAD lost weight but she, herself said she FELT like she was on a diet (very deprived... hello, it IS a diet afterall!) but only lost 4 lbs.  Weight loss from diets like these is a mere matter of less caloric intake - we didn't need Dr Heller to tell us this!

In my humble opinion, the Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Program is the biggest loser I've read yet. Unlike the Suzanne Somer and Greer Childers books, it lacks charm and fun reading. But it also totally lacks scientific underpinning. Obviously the author hopes the reader, exceedingly happy that she doesn't have to drink milk (according to Heller), doesn't have to exercise, and doesn't have to give up smoking or booze, will not notice the lack of scientific basis for his statements, many of which diametrically oppose what current science says.

Article by Sue Widemark                           return to diets for sale


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