From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

What’s the Point?

I can resist everything, except temptation.


The women in my family have been living by a number systemfor the past several weeks, so the other day I decided to get in on the program, too. This program now assigns every edible item on the face of the earth a corresponding point value, and according to your present weight, you get a preset number of points (or food) that you can eat. Therefore, if you’re lucky, that means you can have three meals a day . . . as long as you don’t mind gum for one of them.

The points add up quickly. For example, a slice of bread is 2 points, an enchilada is 9 points, and a meal at McDonalds is 1,229,789—or better yet, your last meal on earth.

The night before my diet was set to start, I checked out the chart to see how many points I could eat each day. Based on my weight, I’m allowed twenty-five. Seeing as that wouldn’t work for me, I decided that because I’m a man, and therefore I have the role of hunter-gatherer in the family, I should have extra points. So I gave myself thirty points a day. In other words, I added up the equivalent of twenty-five points and realized that if I stuck to that meager plan, I wouldn’t be able to operate heavy machinery. But don’t think that extra seven points buys me a trip down the buffet line. There are only degrees of starvation.

Actually, I did think that the first day went fairly smooth—mostly, I guess, because the night before the diet, I binged as a farewell to my old eating habits and woke up the next day barely able to walk. Still, by evening, I was starving. So my wife asked me how many points I had left for dinner. I rolled my eyes.

“I have enough to enjoy a tablespoon of dirt,” I answered, “as long as there aren’t any bugs (five points) in it . . . or mulch (nine points).”

The diet has gone downhill from there. To be successful, you really have to learn how to space your points out evenly throughout the day. That way, by dinnertime, you still have enough so you don’t get a hunger headache, or your stomach doesn’t rumble and frighten small children.

There’s a discipline to the program, which, incidentally, my wife is really good at following. Just yesterday morning she was bragging about it.

“I banked three points yesterday,” she announced.

I looked up from licking the bottom of my cereal bowl. “What does that mean?”

“I didn’t use three points,” she exclaimed.

I wanted to cry. “I’ll give you ten dollars for them.”

“You can’t buy MY points,” she answered.

“Why not?” I argued, “You’re not using them.”

“Yes I am,” she retorted. “I can apply them to my points today. I’m going to have a latte with my lunch.”

“Yum,” I said. “I’ll give you five dollars just to smell your breath.”

I think I might have to up my daily points—like maybe by 1,229,789.

Ken Swarner

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