My Two Cents: Anti-carb hysteria latest diet trend

Americans are obsessed with diets, which is ironic considering the seemingly never-ending spate of reports and studies that say we’re a nation of fatties (New national motto under consideration: “E pluribus eat ’em”). With the possible exception of those who are living in caves or just emerging from comas, everyone knows the popular weight loss program of the moment is the low-carbohydrate diet championed by the late Dr. Robert “Bob” Atkins.

The good doctor’s theory posits that you can lose weight by eating a diet high in animal fat and protein. Carbohydrates – or carbs, as the kids say these days – which are found in foods like bread and pasta, should be minimized, as they increase the rate of insulin in the body, which in turn encourages the putting on and storing of fat.

This has many Americans confused, as for years experts like “doctors” and “nutritionist” have said – and many continue to say – such a diet is a one-way ticket to chunking up and having a heart attack.

Whatever the scientific verdict turns out to be, if indeed the mystery is ever solved (I still don’t know if eggs are good or bad for me, but they’re high in protein!), right now carbs are the dieting world’s Public Enemy No. 1. In fact, as near as I can tell, the pantheon of evil goes something like this: 1) Osama bin Laden 2) Ayman al-Zawahri 3) Janet Jackson 4) Martha Stewart 5) Carbs.

Not surprisingly, Americans have taken to a diet that allows you to stuff your face with steaks, hamburgers and pork chops and still lose weight. (Vegetarian-Americans are out of luck.) Marketers are rushing to meet this new demand. On the plus side, there are all kinds of low-carb products being introduced, including ice cream, chips and – proving America is the greatest country on earth – beer! On the negative side, there are disturbing signs of an emerging anti-carb bias. Try ordering a regular meal – as opposed to an Atkins-friendly menu item – at your next restaurant visit, and you’re likely to notice people staring at you as if you just clubbed a baby seal to death or lit up a cigarette.

Still, diets are cyclical, and carb-related industries are going to take it in the shorts for only so long. I think the pendulum will swing the other way eventually, and carbs will be in favor in the future. I’m looking forward to the doughnut and spaghetti weight loss program.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who has the metabolism of a humming bird – gets in his two cents worth in spite of the old saying that states you only get a penny for your thoughts.