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David Katz, M.D. Headshot

The Election Day Diet

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Vote every four years, and lose 27 lbs in two days! No, not really.

The morning after Election Day, I can't help but think that the typical human body, and the body politic, could both benefit from a bit more stick-to-it-ivity. My personal politics, and yours -- and whether yesterday was a good day or bad day -- are beside the point. The point is that the point is blowing in the wind!

Whether it's a national recession, the slow progression of atherosclerotic plaque, or gradual weight gain -- we want quick fixes. We want the active ingredient, silver bullet, have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too solution, and we want it now! In public policy, politicians promise us that every election -- and we seem prepared to believe it, every election. Even if the promises from the guys replacing the guys who failed to keep their promises sound an awful lot like, well, those promises, which sounded like the promises before them ...

And then there's the fact that some promises simply take a while. This is near and dear to a preventionist's heart; what we do now may prevent a cancer 20 years from now. Talk about delayed gratification!

Very rare indeed is the patient truly patient enough to commit now to eating well and being active for such delayed returns. Oddly, the same patient will do exactly that with their 401k.

And our society is less patient still. Fix global recession, and global warming while you're at it, within a political cycle or you are so outta' here!

And then there's the problem that what we do now will be meaningless 20 years from now (or by the next election) if we lose patience with the lack of results this time tomorrow, and reverse course.

In health, it's not politicians who make the quick-fix promises, but the charlatans. Lotions, potions, pills, and programs that guarantee effortless weight loss, hair growth, muscle building, bun toning, age defiance. Here, too, we believe again, and again.

The truth is that meaningful results -- for your body, and the body politic alike -- require a clear goal, a plan to get there, and resolve to stay the course. Usually, there is actual work involved -- goshdarnit! We need both a way, and the will to follow it. On again/off again diets, and on again/off again public policy are a sure way to get nowhere.

Will we learn to turn a deaf ear to false promises of quick fixes? Will we remember, come next election, or next New Year's resolution, that the slow and steady tortoise beat the hare? The answer, like the next bestselling diet book and the results of the next election, is blowing in a very unsteady wind.