THE SYSTEM DIET – OR, When Cheese Is a Powder in a Cellophane Packet

Life as an author is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Nowadays, we’re told sitting for any length of time is as bad as a pack a day, our eyes need to refocus on something in the distance every twenty minutes, and carpal tunnel syndrome will be ours from moving that mouse around. To add insult to injury, many of us, myself included, get a spreading derriere and pack on the pounds from that lack of exercise. Since we are now bombarded about system diets on television and newspapers, with pop-ups popping at us all over the place, I decided to be a guinea pig rather than just a fat pig and try one. Oh, okay, so a looming bathing suit vacation had a little to do with it . . . .

The idea that meals were pre-made and would involve no cooking was one draw. I do love to cook, but I figured the time saved might be welcome for a couple of months and also offer choices I don’t normally eat. The plan of the diet is that you eat approximately every three hours starting within an hour of waking, and that you combine what they call power foods with non-starchy vegetables (as much as you want) and, on occasion, ‘super carbs’ such as fruit. You get a little booklet that keeps you reminded of what you can eat and when—breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner and yet another snack. Note I make no mention of alcohol! And that, for me, was pretty difficult, since I do enjoy sitting down with a glass (or two) of wine in the evening.

The ads for this system promise you, you can eat chocolate, pizza, ice cream and all those good things you probably think you have to miss on a diet. And you can! In portions of a size made for a doll’s tea party. Pancakes? Waffles? Yup. The allowed tablespoon of maple syrup drowns these portions. Virtually everything—except the nut bars, of which there are many– gets microwaved to heat up, thereby rendering the pastry of a pizza into cardboard. Dried soups or rice dishes need added water, a blitz, a stir, and voila—you have glue! Uh, I mean dinner. And yes, cheese for the macaroni cheese dinner was a powder from a packet to be added to the water and zapped. My microwave is getting such a work-out, it should be the one losing weight. Before this, the only time I ever used it was to make oatmeal or reheat something gone cold. One thing I will say is that their ice cream is absolutely delicious. No joke—divine chocolate brownie sundae and super delicious orange cream pop. The power-shakes aren’t bad either.

So what’s the bottom line? Have I lost weight? In the first two weeks I had lost five pounds—which is exactly what I had lost the last time I gave up wine for two weeks. I’m hoping things will improve, or at least continue, so that by the time I get into my bathing suit and other tropical wear it all fits.

Last week I was away overnight. I packed up meals and snacks in plastic lunch bags with the exception of dinner, which I was having out. I was good to the diet on the jitney, denying the snacks that were passed around and sticking to my hard-boiled egg. I had lunch on arrival—a nut bar and carrots—and wasn’t hungry the whole day. And then evening came along and friends. I had three glasses of wine and veal limone with broccoli and roast potatoes.

Nothing ever tasted so good.



6 responses to “THE SYSTEM DIET – OR, When Cheese Is a Powder in a Cellophane Packet

  1. Madalyn McGovern

    Hysterical!! I know how you feel! Dieting is definitely not fun. I used the South Beach Diet and it was very effective but also labor intensive.


  2. Being a Weight Watchers participant for years, I can tell you that program says “you need to eat real food because that is what you crave and as soon as the ‘specialized’ food plan is completed (or discarded) that real food is what you go back to.” Portion control is the answer for me. And another thing WW says “if you crave something, eat it – right away – not after you’ve tried substituting that apple slice or carrot stick followed by what you really want. And if you eat something not on your acceptable list, make certain it top shelf – not a Hershey’s kiss but a hunk of Godiva – and enjoy every morsel!


    • Good advice, Judith. So far, however, I’ve managed to keep my hands off both the booze and the bag of Lindt truffles–on my own. It’s with others around that I succumb in the interests of society. That said, the ‘real food’ side is interesting. I still have a salad every day at lunch, which is what I would normally do, but this time instead of a hunk of smoked trout it’s the system lunch. And I’m learning that, yes, portion control is the key–as well as spreading the food out through the day.


  3. I’ve begun eating mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. So far I’ve lost 6 pounds in 6 weeks with no big weight fluctuations. I like the increased energy and having my appetite under control. Also – no obvious chemicals! I think there are as many ways to eat nutritionally as there are people.


    • You’re right Lynda–what is a good weight loss plan for one person may not suit the next. On this diet I find I’m never hungry, which is a plus, and probably due to the spread of meals and snack. I also used to have fruit after every meal and handsful of nuts but those are actually calorific so I’m having smaller amounts now on this diet.


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