“Beyond Paleo: Time Travel Adventures in Weight Loss,” by Katie Burgess

May 7th, 2014 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

Millions love the Paleo or “Cave Man” Diet. Early humans lived in sync with nature, and so they were healthier, remaining free from cancer, heart disease, and obesity until dying in their thirties from predation or childbirth. For that great beach body, you can’t go wrong eating the same cauliflower bisques and gluten-free cookies as our hunter-gatherer ancestors. But why limit yourself to one time period? History provides us with an exciting array of dieting options:

The Big Bang Diet: You eat hot, dense, continuously expanding foods—mostly Indian takeout and fondue. While this may not sound life an effective weight loss method, research shows that people from this era were so slender they didn’t even exist.

The Jurassic Diet: Serving sizes grow more ridiculous each year. Limit your food intake to only the sizes available in 1993, during the first Jurassic Park movie’s original release. Burn calories by running through your house pretending to be a velociraptor.

The New Testament Era Diet: Bread and wine make up every meal, but transubstantiation turns the carbs into protein.

The Renaissance Diet: Much as Renaissance thinkers rediscovered ancient culture and wisdom, try rediscovering ancient foods in your kitchen, foods you don’t want anymore but would feel guilty about tossing. That cheese that’s only moldy on one end. That stale bread that might taste all right if you toasted it. That ice cream that has freezer burn, but it’s the expensive brand, and there’s still a full carton left. You’ll never feel tempted to overindulge. As a bonus, you’ll consume plenty of good bacteria, as well as other bacteria.

The Spanish Inquisition Diet: Do you struggle to maintain self-control while others around you indulge in drinks, desserts, etc.? Declare yourself Dinner Pope. Demand that everyone convert to your diet or face the auto-da-fé.

The French Revolution Diet: Sharing food equally among your compatriots provides built-in portion control. Develop endurance and upper-body strength by holding aloft royal heads on pikes as you march to Versailles. Note: No credible evidence supports the oft-reported claim that this diet lets you eat cake.

The Civil War Diet: Eat anything you want, in the name of states’ rights. If  someone questions you, exclaim, “Suh, this means waw-uh!” Attack their fort.  Fight for years, believing that what you lack in manpower and weaponry you can make up for in passion. Lose faith as you witness mere boys slaughtering one another. Write every day to your sweetheart, Truly Rutherford, who nevertheless tires of waiting and asks that you return the lock of hair she gave you at the Christmas Ball. Abandon your post. Try to escape, getting lost in the swamp where  a bull gator swallows your revolver and right foot. Surrender to an apple-cheeked lad from Buffalo—Truly Rutherford’s new fiancé. Return to a home you no longer recognize, where you grow old in obscurity, your past glories diminished to a few anecdotes that Truly Rutherford’s children will learn in school and quickly forget. How you lose weight is dysentery.

The Teapot Dome Scandal Diet: You eat things you remember having learned about at some point but don’t completely understand. Aspic, for example.

The Cold War Diet: What are you doing? You don’t have time to eat! You have to beat the Russians to space! You can maybe have some Tang!

The Two Minutes Ago Diet: Didn’t life seem better two minutes ago? Like you were living more naturally? Revisit that simpler time. Sit in the same position. Spit your coffee back into your mug so you can drink it again. Forget everything you’ve just read. You’re feeling better already!


Defenestration-Katie Burgess3Katie Burgess tries to claim that she only watches the show Pretty Little Liars ironically. This is a lie.

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