Fear-of-Death Diet really works

With the holidays right around the corner, it's time to consider The Fear-of-Death Diet. Of all the diets I've tried, none has been more successful than The-Fear-of-Death Diet. It's a lot like that well-known adage: "Nothing clarifies the mind like a hanging." Especially your own.

I came across The Fear-of-Death Diet by accident at my doctor's office. Most of my "numbers" were not good. Since I was an avid, decades-long lap swimmer, I thought I could eat whatever I wanted. Apparently, my "numbers" told me otherwise. In addition to the grueling 45-minute lap swims four times a week, I also had to eat more of the "unmentionables" - fish, leafy green vegetables and fruit. Not much of a reward for 45 minutes of wet deprivation, commonly called lap swimming.

And, after all, I did eat fish - breaded and deep-fried to make absolutely sure I didn't know I was eating fish. And vegetables. Doesn't hot Italian giardiniera on pizza, sausage sandwiches, beef sandwiches, hot dogs, salami sandwiches and baloney sandwiches count? Come on! Picky, picky. Oh, and what about fruit? I had always eaten plenty of fruit - bananas (in banana spilt sundaes), pineapple (along with the giardiniera, of course, on pizzas), apples (stuffed, of course, in a pie), pumpkin (also in a pie, under a heavy layer of whipped cream) and, most especially, cherries (of a particular type, I admit) in my Manhattans. There you go, doc.

But, as you can guess, my doctor didn't agree. He asked me how long I wanted to live.

"Forever," I said. "Just like everybody else."

Not possible, he said, and particularly not on my current Grim-Reaper Diet. I needed to switch to the Fear-of-Death Diet and start eating baked fish, green leafy vegetables (no giardiniera?) and fruit. I even had to give up that very special variety of cherries I loved in my Manhattans. You know what that means. Right. I switched to martinis.

So now I have been - more or less - on The Fear-of-Death Diet for the last 20 years and I guess it's working because, well, I'm writing this. It's been a real struggle, though, not to reward myself with real food after all those grueling hours of wet torture in the pool. But, on the good side, the Grim-Reaper has been knocked to the curb (at least for now) and I'm still planning on living forever. Just like everyone else.

So, if you're looking for a new diet, avoid all those fad diets that come and go. Get with the diet that takes no prisoners, The Fear-of-Death Diet. But be warned - it's a real killer.

- Bill Barre of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].