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COLUMN: Whole 30 has come to Rome and it will steal your friends

You know how every few months a new fad diet comes around and it seems like almost everyone you know is trying it?

Remember the Atkins Diet? And the South Beach Diet? I don’t know exactly when the fad diet started but whenever it was, it started a cycle.

Every so often the new one comes out. All it takes is for one attractive celebrity to endorse it and everyone jumps on the bandwagon.

Angelina Jolie eats a piece of kale for dinner every night? Maybe if I do that I’ll find my own Brad Pitt.

Did you know the guy who plays Thor in those movies eats only tree bark while he’s filming? That’s why he’s so ripped. Maybe I’ll get abs like his if I do the same thing.

We tend to forget that a lot of these celebrities also have personal trainers and exclusive gym memberships to help them look the way they do.

I had friends who did the Paleo diet a couple years ago. Remember that one? And then there was one where you only eat stuff that’s in the Bible.

Who comes up with these? And more importantly, who buys into ’em? I’ll tell you who. MY FRIENDS.

At the moment, I have a few friends doing the Whole 30 diet. It’s the new thing. Apparently it asks you to cut out major food groups, including grains and dairy, for 30 days. You don’t count calories or step on a scale and you only exercise if you’re an overachiever. The pounds should melt away and your body and soul will be transformed forever.

I’m skeptical but my friends who are subjecting themselves to it say it’s not so bad, and one claims to have lost more than 20 pounds (even though you’re not supposed to weigh yourself until the 30 days is up).

Essentially, you can eat meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, nuts and fruits. But it’s the stuff you can’t eat that makes me shudder. You can’t have sugar (including artificial sweeteners and even honey). No honey? That’s ludicrous. Honey is the best thing in the world, in my opinion. Totally natural and delicious.

I’m already distrustful of these Whole 30 people.

Also you have to cut out alcohol completely. I love my friends dearly but alcohol makes them fun. I don’t drink, since it would probably make me even more obnoxious than I already am. But without it the people I hang out with seem like empty shadows of their former selves. I’m having withdrawals and I’m not even on the diet.

Whole 30 also doesn’t allow grains (like oats, corn and rice) or legumes (beans, peanuts) and dairy.

What did dairy ever do to them? I can’t understand how drinking milk or eating some delicious sharp cheddar is bad for you.

Listen, I’m not technically a dietician but here’s my crazy idea for a diet. Eat what you want in moderation and try to burn as many calories as you’re consuming.

If you’d like a doughnut or two as a snack, go ahead and have ’em.

Just make sure you walk around the block a couple times or play some tennis or take the kids for a trail hike.

You like eating gravy biscuits in the morning? Have at ’em. But do 30 minutes on the treadmill to balance it out.

Those pork rinds or cold beers too tempting to pass up? Have a few.

Just ride your bike for an hour or sign up for pickleball.

Do you see what I’m saying? Diets are great if they allow you to eat healthier and smarter and improve your overall health. But they aren’t a magic pill that makes you skinnier overnight. They don’t (or shouldn’t) replace exercise and an active lifestyle.

I’m a pretty slim guy. Sometimes people say to me “oh I wish I had your metabolism” or “you’re so lucky. You can eat whatever you want and you never gain weight.”

That stuff infuriates me. Fat doesn’t magically leap off my body. If I eat junk food all the time my pants don’t fit. I get a gut. My face swells up. I get man boobs. But I do my best to not let it stay that way.

What’s my secret? I get off my butt and I get active.

I play tennis or I drag myself out of bed in the morning and go to the Young Men’s Christian Association where I might swim, or I might run on the treadmill, or I may go down to the weight room and pretend to be as strong as the other guys there.

I sign up for 5K or 10K races or longer ones. And I run them. I don’t win them, but I finish. I sign up for obstacle races. I talk my friends into doing them with me and we have a good time.

None of us are ultra-athletes but we get out there and we do the best we can.

I guess what I’m saying is I applaud my friends for having the discipline to stick to a diet. I certainly don’t have that kind of discipline. I love glazes and dipping sauces and fried anything way too much.

I just hope they realize that they don’t need the newest fad to get healthy. They don’t need some celebrity or a best-selling book to tell them what to eat.

Also, I’m probably still a little bitter about the alcohol thing. Drunk friends make the most entertaining stories. Whole 30 has robbed me of my weekend entertainment of photographing the drunken antics of my friends and sharing them on the Internet.

I just want my friends back. I don’t care if they’re skinny or fat or svelte or pleasantly plump or big-boned or whatever it’s called. I just want them inebriated enough to make poor decisions in front of me. Is that too much to ask?

Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune.