Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Eat like a werewolf

I'm sure that by now all of you have heard of the "Paleo Diet," that claims the path to better health comes from eating like a cave man (or woman, as the case may be) -- consuming only foods that would have been eaten by our distant ancestors living on the African savanna.  The "Paleo Diet," therefore, includes grass-fed meat (cow is okay if you can't find gazelle), eggs, fish, root vegetables, fruits, nuts, and mushrooms.  Not included are dairy products (being that domestication of cattle and goats was post-cave-man), potatoes, salt, sugar, and refined oils.

Despite gaining some traction, especially amongst athletes and bodybuilders, the "Paleo Diet" has been looked upon with a wry eye by actual dieticians.  A survey of experts in the field, sponsored by CNN, placed the "Paleo Diet" as dead last in terms of support from peer-reviewed research and efficacy at promoting healthy weight loss.

But the "Paleo Diet" will sound like quantum physics, technical-science-wise, as compared to the latest diet poised to take the world of poorly-educated woo-woos by storm:

The "Werewolf Diet."

I wish I were making this up.  I also wish, for different reasons, that it was what it sounded like -- that people who sign up find themselves, once a month, sprouting fur and fangs and running around naked and eating unsuspecting hikers. That, at least, would be entertaining.

[Image is in the Public Domain]

But no such luck.  The Werewolf Diet, however, does resemble being an actual werewolf in that (1) what you get to eat is tied to the phases of the moon, (2) it more or less ruins your health, and (3) it completely fucks up any chance at a normal social life.

The site "Moon Connection" describes the whole thing in great detail, but they make a big point of their stuff being copyrighted material, so I'll just summarize so that you get the gist:

You have two choices, the "basic plan" or the "extended plan."  On the "basic plan," you fast for 24 hours, either on the full moon or the new moon.  You can, they say, "lose up to six pounds of water weight" by doing this, but why this is a good thing isn't clear.

The "extended plan," though, is more interesting.  With the "extended plan," you fast during the full moon, then eat a fairly normal diet during the waning part of the moon cycle (with the addition of drinking eight glasses of water a day to "flush out toxins").  On the new moon, you should fast again, only consuming dandelion tea or green tea (more toxin flushing).  During the waxing part of the moon cycle, you must be "disciplined" to fight your "food cravings," and avoid overeating.   "Thickeners," such as sugar and fats, should be avoided completely, and you can't eat anything after six PM because that's when the moon's light "becomes more visible."

Then you hit the full moon and it all starts over again.

Well, let me just say that this ranks right up there with "downloadable medicines" as one of the dumbest things I have ever read.  We have the whole "flushing toxins" bullshit -- as if your kidneys and liver aren't capable of dealing with endogenous toxic compounds, having evolved for millions of years to do just that.  We're told, as if it's some sort of revelation, that our "food cravings will increase" after we've been consuming nothing but green tea for 24 hours.  Then we are informed that the moon's gravitational pull has an effect on us, because we're 60% water -- implying that your bloodstream experiences high tide, or something.  But contrary to anything Newton would have had to say about the matter, the gravitational pull the moon exerts upon you somehow depends on the phase it's in, because, apparently, the angle of the light reflecting from the moon's surface, with respect to the position of the Earth, mysteriously alters its mass.

I mean, I'm not a dietician, but really.  And fortunately, there are dieticians who agree.  Keri Gans, a professional dietician and author of "The Small Change Diet," said in an interview, "This diet makes me laugh.  I don’t know if it’s the name or that people will actually believe it.  Either way, it is nothing but another fad diet encouraging restriction.  Restriction of food will of course lead to weight loss, but at what cost to the rest of your body?  If only celebrities, once and for all, would start touting a diet plan that makes sense and is based on science."

Yes.  If only.  But unfortunately, fewer people have heard of Gans, and (evidently) the scientific method, than have heard of Madonna and Demi Moore, who swear by the Werewolf Diet.  Not that Moore, especially, is some kind of pinnacle of rationality; she is a devotee of Philip Berg's "Kabbalah Centre," which preaches that "99% of reality cannot be accessed by the senses."

Nor, apparently, by logic and reason.

Interestingly enough, today is a full moon, meaning that today we're all supposed to be fasting.  To which I answer: the hell you say.  I'm off to get some coffee, bacon, and eggs. Detoxify that, buddy.


This week's book recommendation is the biography of one of the most inspirational figures in science; the geneticist Barbara McClintock.  A Feeling for the Organism by Evelyn Fox Keller not only explains to the reader McClintock's groundbreaking research into how transposable elements ("jumping genes") work, but is a deft portrait of a researcher who refused to accept no for an answer.  McClintock did her work at a time when few women were scientists, and even fewer were mavericks who stood their ground and went against the conventional paradigm of how things are.  McClintock was one -- and eventually found the recognition she deserved for her pioneering work with a Nobel Prize.

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