Cookies & other monsters

Kerri Macdonald
Kerri Macdonald

Last week, I had the opportunity to pick up a copy of US Airways’ “SkyMall” magazine. With excitement that could only have been induced by altitude, I found a voice-activated replica of R2-D2 for only $169.95! Also tempting was “The Marshmallow Shooter”—a mere $24.95 for what would surely be hours of fun, complete with “pinpoint accuracy.” But upon further perusal, I decided that “The Hollywood Cookie Diet” most definitely takes the cake. Four boxes for $59.99 and cookie dieters can (atypically) lose five pounds in just three days?

After rediscovering my dog-eared copy of SkyMall the other night, I decided to tune into some late-night television. Before long I came across what can arguably be deemed superior to the in-flight magazine: the infomercial.

“With Turbo Jam, I lost 97 pounds,” a beaming woman in Spandex told me. “It’s a party in your living room, I’m tellin’ ya!”

Burning fat and calories at a rate of up to 1,000 calories an hour? It’s fast, fun and effective? What better preamble to a box of miracle cookies?

On a search for more miracles, I clicked on the advertisement for “The Rihanna Diet” that confronts me every time I go online. To wit, Rihanna’s solution comes in the form of a product called “Ultra Lean Green Energy Tea.” A testimonial on the website says, “I am addicted to Ultra Lean Green.” Now, doesn’t that sound healthy?

As the school year picks up and, for many students, time devoted to physical activity goes down, phrases like “freshman 15” and consequent miracle cures are everywhere. An article in Wednesday’s Globe and Mail cited a study which found that female students at the University of Guelph actually gained an average of only 5.3 pounds in first year. The blame was placed not on late-night poutine and all-you-can-eat ice cream, but on lack of exercise.

In the past couple of years, media reports have zeroed in on rising obesity rates in North America. While miracle solutions abound, most experts probably agree diet cookies won’t help. The Globe’s proposed cure for the freshman 5.3 doesn’t fall into the miracle category; in fact, it’s fairly obvious: eat healthy food, control portions, snack wisely, stay active and get some sleep.

Last year my housemate made spinach brownies from a cookbook containing recipes that sneak healthy ingredients into not-so-healthy food. Vulgar taste and sponge-like texture aside, it seems unlikely that encouraging children—or housemates—to eat pseudo-brownies will instill in them the same nutritional values as does the dinnertime mantra of yesteryear: “Don’t forget your vegetables.” But while there are obvious issues surrounding the health of many North Americans, maintaining a healthy attitude toward nutrition, as well as body image, is easier said than done.

“Don’t forget your vegetables” might seem like a hackneyed phrase, but when miracle slogans dominate our day-to-day lives, it’s probably a good idea to keep some old school jingles running through our heads.

(Results may vary.)

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