By Mordechai Schmutter

One of the big things about having a month with 85 days of yomtov is that after all those weeks shopping and cooking and then a full week of living in the backyard, you’re like, “What did I used to do before I spent 90 percent of my time making food and sleeping?”

Dieting. That’s what we used to do. Ask around.

The last time I wrote about my weight was around a year ago, when I was trying to shed some pounds for my brother-in-law’s wedding, and I promised to do a follow-up article if I’d lost any real weight. And you’ll be happy to know that I kept that promise. There was no follow-up.

A big issue is that it turns out that when I don’t eat, I have problems thinking and being creative. Yes, you might say it’s psychological. I only can’t think because I think I can’t think. But the truth is that if I think I can’t think, then I can’t think. Who’s going to come in and tell my brain that I can think? My stomach? It’s just making angry noises.

So my goal is that any diet I go on should be for a really short time. But how can that possibly be effective? If I diet for a week and lose 50 pounds, doesn’t that mean that there was 50 pounds of food I was previously eating in a given week in addition to the food that I actually did eat that week? I don’t eat enough to lose that kind of weight that quickly.

But then I found out about a three-day diet. Three days! It’s like a three-day yomtov, except you don’t eat.

Or maybe it’s like a fast, except that you eat. Barely. You get to eat specific portion sizes of specific foods. It’s kind of like when the doctor says you have to eat on Yom Kippur, and you’re measuring everything in shot glasses.

It’s not better than fasting. The diet starts off with Day One, where you eat barely enough to keep you alive, and then you eat less and less, so that by Day Three, you’re eating the crumbs from Day Two. The diet, officially, is called “The Military Diet,” in case you’ve ever wondered why soldiers aren’t fat. The idea is that diets are more effective if you spend the whole time thinking about food. This is why whenever you skip a meal by accident, you don’t lose weight.

But according to what I read, the science is actually a lot more complicated than that. Apparently, scientists who are not named–just a grand term the article uses: “scientists”–figured out exactly what you need to eat so all the foods chemically react with each other to help you lose weight. For example, they figured out that on Night Two, you have to eat two hot dogs and some broccoli. The broccoli isn’t as effective without the hot dogs.

I don’t recommend this diet. For one, it’s dangerous. The paperwork itself warns the reader not to try this twice in a row. You can’t anyway, because I don’t know if, for example, supper of Day Three (a cup of dry tuna, half a banana that you started on Day Two, and a cup of vanilla ice cream) is a Shabbos meal.

So I would say to consult your doctor, so he can recommend a psych evaluation. I didn’t consult my doctor. I got the idea for this diet from my high-school students, who came over to me and said, “Mr. Schmutter, you should go on the kind of diet where you lose a lot of weight really, really fast.”

“Excuse me?”

“No, we’re on it too. I’m on Day One.”

Everyone I’ve spoken to was on Day One. I rarely saw anyone on Day Two. Do they die before then?

The truth is I don’t think any of these kids should go on a diet–especially a diet that’s been proven by “scientists.” But this isn’t my battle. I only see these students for 40 minutes a day, minus time coming late, time leaving early, time asking if they can leave early, and time going to get food.

Hey, here’s a way to lose weight: Stop eating in class.

So I tried it, as an experiment, because I’m OK with a diet if it’s temporary. I figured it’s three days. I can do three days in my sleep. Literally. I can just sleep for three days.

Well, no, I can’t. I have my six jobs. I can’t take three days off life.

And not all three days were difficult either. Day One isn’t so bad–I guess because you’re living off the nutrients from Day Zero, when you gorged yourself because you figured, “Hey, I’m dieting tomorrow.” For me, Day Zero was my brother-in-law’s wedding. (The one I was supposed to lose weight for. Not that he had another one.)

But I didn’t get a stitch of work done the entire time I was on this diet. Unless you count thinking about food and recording my thoughts:

Day One

-     This diet lets one have way too little of certain things and way too much of others. Right now, I’m having a single, lone piece of toast with two tablespoons of peanut butter. I can’t even find the toast. But in the meantime, I’m not allowed to put milk in my coffee.

-     Ran into my first major snag. Tonight, as part of supper, I’m supposed to have 3 ounces of chicken and some vanilla ice cream. I’ll tell you this: I’m not blowing my one serving of vanilla ice cream on the pareve stuff. So do I have a six-hour break in the middle of supper? Or should I have the ice cream first? If I eat the ice cream first, I might not have enough room for my 3 ounces of chicken. Or my half a banana.

-     Um, how on earth do I measure 3 ounces of chicken on the bone? Is that including the bone? How much do bones weigh? I can’t believe I’m actually weighing the bones. I don’t even have a tiny scale. I have to step on my bathroom scale with a chicken bone and then again without it.

-     I refuse to buy a small scale for a 3-day diet.

“Sir, I’d like to buy your tiniest scale.”


“I’m going on a diet.”

“Wow! How much do you expect to lose?”

Day Two

-    The second half of my banana is brown.

-    Lunch–a full cup of cottage cheese. This is the most cottage cheese I’ve ever eaten in one sitting in my life. I hope I lose weight from this.

-    Licked off the plate. I haven’t licked off a plate since I was a kid, but hey, one cup is one cup. I also licked the cup.

-    This is the slowest I’ve ever eaten crackers.

-    If I eat all three days’ worth of food in one day, can I lose the weight three times as fast?

-    OK, for supper tonight I get two hot dogs. But no buns. Because buns were the problem.

-    Is there a point in experimenting with this diet if I forgot to weigh myself before I started?

That’s where the notes end. About halfway through Day Two, I found out that I had to make an emergency sheva berachos for my brother-in-law. The diet went straight out the window. I had two wraps, a cold-cut sandwich, several kinds of salad, and a piece of chocolate cake. I was glad I hadn’t weighed myself before starting the diet.

Alternatively, I could have just made everyone have what I was having.

“Hot dogs and broccoli?”

“What do you want? I found out about this sheva berachos four hours ago! Eat your half a banana.”

All in all I wouldn’t recommend the diet. I got nothing done, the students who were on it didn’t show up to class, and it’s impossible to keep the weight off, because as soon as the diet is over, you eat a restaurant. It’s more for if you have a thing in three days that you need to lose some weight for–like if you need to go to the doctor, and you don’t want him to tell you, yet again, that you’re obese. You want to walk in starving and attempt to eat the popsicle sticks.

I also don’t know for sure that it works. If it’s possible to lose 10 pounds in three days, then it must also be possible to gain 10 pounds in three days. That’s terrifying. I’d rather live in a world where neither is true than where both are true. v

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to



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