The Pregnancy Pee-Pee Diet

{This ISN’T mine.}

It seems like I have been seeing zillions of ads for something called the hCG diet. Now, anyone who’s ever obsessively read the instructions that come with the pregnancy test sticks knows that hCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin–a hormone that’s produced very early on in a pregnancy.

I love pregnancy tests, and obsessively took test after test WAY TOO EARLY each time I was pregnant. And a few times I was not. Anyway, it’s the hCG in pregnant urine (pee pee) that makes the pregnancy test “positive.”

hCG is thought by some to be the hormone responsible–at least partly–for the nausea that pregnant women often experience in the early weeks. Both my pregnancies were heavy on the nausea–as in weeks of moaning and gagging on the couch and being unable to open the refrigerator.

So what’s this hCG diet thing? Apparently, a doctor named Albert Simeons first tried using hCG injections–plus a starvation diet of 500 daily calories–in 1954. And recently, thanks to aggressive Internet promotion, the diet has been making the rounds as a ‘miracle’ weight loss tool with astonishing claims of weight loss of a pound a day or more.

But there are a few things to consider:

1. hCG used in this way is NOT approved by the FDA–in responsible clinical trials, there was no evidence that hCG actually aids in weight loss.

2. 500 calories a day is next to nothing–easily only one-third or one-fourth what most of us actually need in a day. The potential for nutritional deficiency is very, very high.

3. Weight loss from such an extreme diet pretty much never lasts.

4. hCG comes from urine. Eee-yuck!

My take: stay away!

The Newest Fad Diet VS. The Vegetable Volunteers

Well, WOW. I would not have guessed that yesterday’s post about a wacky fad diet would’ve garnered so many page views. But it did, and I can’t help but wonder why. I rather hope it is because people are looking for a reason not to follow the latest “should & ought” from the newest guru. Nearly every day, it seems, someone tells me of some new approach to eating or not-eating or exercising or not-exercising and all I can say is this:

If I were still in the grip of disordered thinking and behavior surrounding food and body, the Internet would be a living hell. HCG diet! “The Plan”! “Paleo”! The Primal Urge Diet! HELP!

And yet? And yet–there is this:

My compost pile. An occasionally smelly, sometimes-ugly, always buggy home to the biggest, juiciest worms on the North Fork. The place where the scraps from our table become the food for next year’s food. Nothing goes to waste here. It takes care of two big problems:

What to do with trash?


How to fertilize the garden?

in one easy move. In this pile go the eggshells, coffee grounds, burned slices of toast, and forgotten leftovers. Here’s where I put the custard that didn’t come together quite right, the bread that went stale, and the yogurt that got moldy.

Here, everything, even the most putrid, vile stuff, is reborn into something new: dark, rich soil that feeds the garden and brings forth new life. And so it goes on.

And sometimes, there are unexpected graces:

This pretty little butternut squash grew from a forgotten seed discarded in the compost pile last autumn. There that little seed rested all winter until, come spring, it grew into a plant that bore another beautiful fruit.

In this ugly, forgotten corner of the garden (where the compost pile was located previously) a number of vegetables “volunteered”–they sprang forth from scattered seeds and persevered to bring something beautiful and edible and life-giving.

Oh, these little events–“random” butternut squashes, potatoes, and tomatoes growing from compost piles–don’t get much press, I know. But to me, they point beyond themselves to a story that’s much, much greater: it’s the story of beauty from ashes, a promise that somehow, the crazy, smelly, wasted and mixed-up bits and pieces of this world can be transformed, redeemed, into something that’s at once totally different from and organically connected to what’s come before.

Yes, indeed. There are glimpses of grace within and among and emerging from the confusing bits and pieces of this life, and they are worth holding onto.