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Carb Load

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 11/6/2002

I have a friend who is overweight, and she is on the Atkins Diet bandwagon. Lately, we cannot go anywhere to eat without her condemning the carbs I love. Every time I eat a sandwich or order fries, she takes extra pleasure in telling me what a "carb pig" I am (in so many words). She knows it bugs me but she won't stop. She's also involved in numerous online "friends of Atkins"-type groups. I am not a fan or an advocate of this diet--to me, it's just not healthy. "Hey, Gladys, pass me the Big Mac without the bun . . ."--yeah, that's really healthy! I know it's her own frustration at not being able to eat carbs now that she's worshipping Dr. Robert Atkins, but I've got to tell you, if I hear one more carb factoid, I'm going to sling a stromboli at her! I swear to God, I'm ready to bury her in 500 pounds of cookie dough. Furthermore, if I told her that Dr. Atkins is dead (I believe it was cardiac failure!), I bet she'd change the subject.

I work for a leading soft pretzel company, but even though our pretzels are very low in fat, she still insists they are bad. She's my best friend, but if I hear her say "too many carbs" one more time, I may have to back a bread truck over her.

Flour Power

Dear FP:
Sorry, darlin', but your assertion that Dr. Atkins is dead is just wishful thinking. He did have a heart attack last spring, but it was neither fatal nor, he assures us, diet related. There is also mounting evidence that, far from the crackpot conventional wisdom has been declaring the good doctor to be for the last 30 years or so, he may actually be right. The New York Times Magazine of July 7, 2002, published a compelling front-page article by Gary Taubes, who writes for the journal Science, titled "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?"

It's unfortunate that there isn't some large, lovely island where humorless and fanatical converts could be exiled until they regain their sense of proportion: ex-smokers with ex-drinkers, the newly svelte with the newly surgically enhanced, and the freshly saved with multilevel-marketing millionaires. An I-found-the-answer-and-if-I-can-do-it-you-should-do-it paradise. But since there isn't, and even though your friend is being a royal pain in the ass, you need to bear in mind that losing weight is damned hard and she needs your support. You might try a sort of put-up-or-shut-up compromise. Tell her that if she will lay off accusing you of poisoning the populace with your pretzels, you will allow her to mention the evils of carbohydrates once--and once only--for every three pounds she loses. If that doesn't shut her up, try eating alone.

My best friend since junior high has started telling really nasty lies about me. I recently started seeing this guy I really like, and she told him that I've been promiscuous, that I have an STD, and that he should stop seeing me and start seeing a doctor. This is completely untrue. I've never been promiscuous--the only man I ever slept with I was in love with for more than a year before we were intimate. We always had safe sex, and I'm in perfect health. My new guy and I haven't even gone past kissing yet. He told me he didn't believe her, but I'm still really upset. Why would my friend try to ruin things for me? Should I confront her? What can I say? I always trusted her and thought we'd be friends forever. Should I even try to find out what's going on?

Feeling Betrayed

Dear FB:
Of course you're upset, sweetie--this is not what we expect from our friends. If what your new beau says is true, and he's not misunderstanding, mistaken, or even lying (it's been known to happen), it could be that she's jealous of you, attracted to the guy herself, or deluded enough to think that by trashing you she might be able to pick him up on the rebound. Or she's jealous of him and the time you spend together and thinks if she can get him to take a quick powder, you'll to turn to her for comfort and companionship. Or she could be trying to get back at you for something you did or she thinks you did to her. Or it could be something else entirely. What it is not, if it is in fact true, is OK. It could even be a sign of severe emotional disturbance.

I'm not suggesting that you give your erstwhile (ersatz?) pal the benefit of the doubt, exactly, but it would be grossly unfair to both of you to turn your back on her without at least asking for her side of the story. Sheer curiosity alone would compel me to confront her. It might be better, to avoid a scene, to meet somewhere public to discuss it, and, as will probably be necessary, to wish her well and say goodbye. As sad as it is to give up on our friends, when a pal turns toxic there's not much else you can do.

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