Nutritionist teaches this old dog some healthy new tricks

I always aimed to keep the doctor away, following the American Heart Assn.'s now-outdated low-fat, high-carb diet. Because I couldn’t make heads or tails of the trends in dietary supplements, I sought a nutritionist.

At the beginning of 2008, I found one. He discovered my diet was bloated with simple carbohydrates: the scourge of the times, yielding, for example, elevated blood triglycerides. Protractedly elevated blood lipids have grave consequences.

He made personalized diet recommendations, color-coding foods to indicate their suitability, based largely on their simple-carbohydrate content. Examples of unsuitable foods are most fruit juices, potatoes and prepared foods containing sugar.

He expects petty infractions.


I took his list as gospel, and he supervised my switch-over. This transition involved frequenting health-food stores — a wash, cost-wise. At first, my wife objected to all the fuss, but, after she had benefited gratuitously, she relented, and our diets reconverged. (What a treasure!) It took close to nine months for me to lose all cravings for sweetness. I sated them first with dried fruits and subsequently with cough drops, and, then, one fine day, there was nothing left to sate.

My high-tech culinary redoubt comprises more whole foods. Amaranth mush and puffed millet constitute my breakfast. (Most strains of oats contain abundant simple starch.) Bread and pasta made of spelt flour are new staples, as are unsweetened soy milk and unflavored whey protein, which I blend with berries. Out with OJ by the gallon and in with (pure) currant and cranberry juice.

I occasionally eat something not recommended, like rice noodles, which hasn’t made me fall off the wagon. I am less hungry, in general, and exercising no longer makes me any hungrier than usual. I feel strong. My weight is now lower and stable. My fasting triglycerides decreased from 200 to 50 (without supplements). Sweetness, defanged, is just a flavor; that which previously seemed sour, like carrot juice, is now sweet.

Sweets and simple starches evidently cause cravings for themselves, but this cycle is highly susceptible to deprivation, as my experience shows. Alimentary hormones are the likely suspects, and pacifying them is the end of ill-eating. The distributed cookie network has nothing on me: fare thee well, youthful vagaries of sugar plums dancing.


As for supplements, I recently started taking pharmaceutical-grade vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fish oil, as recommended by my dietitian. With the right teach, it’s evidently never too late to teach a Sneetch.


Torney hails from New Mexico. In 2006 he retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory to pursue pure mathematics — his best career move ever — and, ancillarily, to take better care of himself.

My Turn is a forum for readers to recount an experience related to health or fitness. Submissions should be no more than 500 words. They are subject to editing and condensation and become the property of The Times. Please e-mail We read every essay but can’t respond to every writer.