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There is nothing more emotional than food. It is the first comfort. We come crying from the womb, and whatever sensual pleasure there may be in nursing, it is overwhelmed by the confounding pleasure of nourishment -- the sweet warm flow of milk, it soothes our natal tears. And when we cry as children, we are silenced with a cookie. And we have, with every Christmas memory, every Thanksgiving memory, or Halloween, or Easter or Passover, the inseparable associations of food. Their smells make our mouths water. It is hospitality. It is celebration. No wedding, no birthday, without cake. Midnight pizza, when sleep won't come. Midnight ice cream, to comfort our broken hearts. Thus, a necessity is a compulsion. No wonder two thirds of Americans are overweight.

To change your diet is to change your self. Not an easy thing. Take obesity. It's a tough thing for a lot of reasons, but most obviously because it speaks so publicly of a vice. We all have secret indulgences. They do not however hang from our ribs in billowing folds. If we lust, or rage, or inject heroin into our veins, we can often keep it secret. You can't, however, hide 100 extra pounds.

But to call yourself back from that extreme -- to face the problem and find the courage and integrity to fight it, and prevail -- this is honorable. It is a kind of redemption. Someone let himself go, he's damaged his health, he's borne the judgment and mockery of those whose vices are not so obvious. But now he's started the long, the grueling climb back to where he wants to be. Sensible diet, sensible exercise. Maybe he won't get all the way. But he's moving. Godspeed.

How to do it? Let's not say dieting, but rather nutriating. The idea is to look for nutrient-dense food. Some foods have lots of calories and hardly anything else. Grains, believe it or not. Mostly calories. A bit of nutrition in the bran, in the germ, but the body is just nothing but calories. Which is great, if you live in a Neolithic village. On the other hand, berries are just little nutrition troves. We should eat them even if they tasted like sawdust. They're that necessary. And we know, we know that some cancers are deficiency diseases. Berri berri, rickets, scurvy -- banished, because there is a vitamin to take. It's so easy.

Upshot is, it is a wonderful thing, the way we turn food not just into energy, but health. Or sickness. Look up "enteric system." Here, say. The whole complex digestive system. Your brain is made up of neurons. There are as many neurons associated with the enteric system as with the brain. A trillion, each. Ever wonder about butterflies in the stomach? It has to do with the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Your gut uses more serotonin than your brain. How odd. No, not just wonderful, this process. More than that.

But sometimes appetite gets to us. And you eat some cookies. A whole bag of cookies. All at once. One after the other. They are delicious. Large and moist, with chocolate chips. Delicious. So sweet and so tasty. Mmm. Vegan cookies. All natural. No sucrose. No harsh or caustic chemicals. Earth friendly, to help Save the Planet. And the next day you wake up with a slightly sore throat. A little shaky. A little mucusy. Kind of weak. So you take the day off. But the cookies. The cookies. They were so tasty. So sweet.

You do not regret it. You'd do it again.

Ach. Humans. Those guys. Gotta love 'em.

Be excellent.


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