In spite of requests in the comments, I cannot tell you the name of my novelist mother, because I am only allowed to have a xanga under conditions of strictest secrecy. In particular, #2 son has told me that he will be mortified if his friends can ever recognize him in any cute stories I might tell about him.

Not that it is impossible to figure out who I am, but it has to be more trouble than the junior high will go to.

I had to go pick #2 son and Pinky up on Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. from a friend’s house. I had directions, though no actual street name or address or anything, but eventually I fetched up at a farm. There was a nice border collie to greet me, and a pool with a rock waterfall, and cattle, and a basketball hoop, and a trampoline, and I was admiring all these marvels as I went up to the door and rang the bell.

No answer. I knocked, I went around the house, I peeped in the windows. Nothing. I figured that, if the boys had to be picked up at 7:00, someone would surely come down soon, so I sat on the porch and read for a bit.

It did cross my mind that, since I did not have any address or street name to go by, it was possible that I was at the wrong house, and was sitting by a total stranger’s pool at 7:00 in the morning, enjoying their waterfall under false pretences.

It was this reflection which prevented me from diving in.

In any case, I waited there for half an hour, and then gave up and went to the gym for half an hour on the treadmill, and the two bits of time combined gave me the chance to read The Shangri-La Diet, so I can report to you fully.

The main question is, of course: is it insane?

There really are two parts to this question. The first is, does this wild claim seem plausible? And I guess, having read the whole book, I can imagine that the wild claim in question could be true. The author is saying that drinking oil and sugar water is an appetite suppressant. He himself only eats one meal a day, and sometimes only every two days. I daresay that would lead to weight loss. And his arguments about it being an appetite suppressant seem plausible. I do not know enough about rats and associative learning to be able to judge — we will have to get Sighkey in on that — but the argument seems at least internally consistent. So yeah, I guess it could work.

But the other part of the question is this: is this an insane thing to do? After all, plenty of things are appetite suppressants without actually being smart, as this famous ad reminds us.

The Shangra-La diet proposes that we swallow 29-60 grams of sugar, two or three times a day. Do not think this is a small amount of sugar. A chocolate-coated, caramel and nut ice cream bar only has 19 grams of sugar. I could not even find anything in my house that contains 29 grams of sugar. The government food pyramid, which has been pretty heavily influenced by America’s convenience food lobbyists, recommends a limit of 22 grams of sugar a day. The author claims that people following his diet, with as much as 180 grams of sugar a day in addition to eating whatever they care to, will naturally choose to eat less sugar than usual, but I can’t imagine that he could be right, because the amount is so large. Who among us is already eating that much sugar? (And, for me, since sugar is a no-no for those concerned about triglycerides, this would be particularly worrisome.)

What’s more, you have to do this forever. The author admits that, as soon as you stop drinking the stuff, you will gain weight. And I daresay he is right, because you will not have made any changes in your behavior. So we are talking about something fairly unhealthy on a permanent basis.

We should bear in mind that this book is directed toward the person who has tried dieting repeatedly without success. I don’t believe in dieting, myself. I don’t think everyone has to be thin, and I am more concerned with health than with weight. However, I dieted once. My doctor told me to, so I got the book Change One, which said the same things my doctor had said, but in a practical and step-by-step way, because I am biddable and good at following rules when the directions are clear.

I lost weight, and have maintained that loss for a couple of years. I would not say that it was difficult, though I faced some challenges with which I will not bore you, but which should help me do the same thing again, now that my doctor is getting onto me again. I did have to follow the rules about eating and exercise, and to learn to accept hunger. There was a point at which I wondered whether I would be hungry for the rest of my life, but it was followed soon after by a point at which I stopped feeling hungry. I also stopped losing weight at that point. Having lost a good bit more than the 10% of body weight that experts say is realistic, and required for health benefits, I quit following the diet. I kept eating right and exercising, and maintained that loss.

However, when my triglyceride levels were the same this year as last, my doctor — though impressed by my muscular development — reiterated his views on diet and exercise. I am intending to go back to the stricter rules, for the sake of my lipids.

Roberts says, if you are doing what your doctor says and eating right and exercising, his bizarre ritual will just make it easier. My mother said I could try it out for a couple of weeks, what’s the harm? So I tried drinking a cup of his sugar water, and I am here to tell you that it is literally sickening. Roberts, in the Q & A section of the book, suggests that you see a doctor if all that sugar makes you sick, but I have just seen a doctor, and have no troubles with insulin function or anything of that kind. It makes a person sick to drink two to four tablespoons of sugar in water, IMHO, because that is a sickening thing to do. I got through the entire cup in the morning and about half the cup in the evening, but I do not think that I could do that again. Maybe people like the author who usually drink sugary drinks could do this more easily than I.

Obviously, the sugar method is not going to be the right choice for me, but there is an alternative. You can instead take two tablespoons of oil a couple of times a day. This will come to the entire amount of fat I ought to eat, which is not realistic, but it is at least olive or canola oil. My problem with this possibly healthier option is that I am afraid that I could not bring myself to drink a spoonful of oil, let alone a quarter of a cup each day. Capsules don’t contain enough to do the trick, Roberts says, and he claims that you get over the loathsomeness of drinking oil with time. You are not allowed to brush your teeth or do anything else to take the taste from your mouth for at least an hour, so give up those thoughts of fixing the problem that way.

Will I try the oil? Hmm….

It seems to me that between tolerating hunger and having to drink sugar or oil, tolerating hunger might be the less unpleasant of the two.

As for #2 son, he was snoring away, as was everyone else in the house. I picked him up an hour or so later with only mild recriminations. After all, I enjoyed reading by the pool. Too bad I didn’t take a picture for the Summer Reading Challenge.