Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 29, Tuesday February 28, 2006




To do or diet

Every time I start a diet, and since my late twenties, that's been quite often, I read everything I can find on different diets. That's how I found Atkins, South Beach, Mayo clinic's diet and now I hear there's even a special diet based on your blood type.

This got me thinking: why am I so obsessed with my weight? And why are people, especially women all over the world so obsessed with their weight? Isn't body weight a topic we discuss endlessly at dinner parties and work lunches and over the phone with sisters or friends? I mean I know that Jessica Simpson follows the South Beach Diet. I don't listen to her music and I've never seen her videos or the movie she's been in, why on earth do I know her diet? What makes me pay enough attention to Madonna's macrobiotic diet but not to the news about civil war somewhere in Africa?

What an irony that I choose not to eat while most of the population around me is forced to make the same decision out of necessity and not vanity!

But, ironies aside, if you are among the privileged few who can make such a choice, I offer you a short list of my favourite diets:

Atkins, also known as the protein diet is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet which advises you to eat as much meat and fish as you like but restricts your intake of starches, including rice, bread, pasta and potatoes.

I've tried this regimen a few times and while I did lose weight really fast in just a few days, I also put it all and more back on just as fast. Also, the diet may give you halitosis, and may cause muscle cramps and diarrhoea.

Choose it only if you are desperate to lose weight really fast.
Hay Diet or Dr. Hay Diet restricts none of what you eat but states that you separate the type of food you eat at each meal. You can eat all veg or all meat at any one meal but cannot mix them.

I've tried this one only once and while I enjoyed not having to cut anything out completely, I wasn't overly joyous about my weight loss after 2 weeks.

Zone, a diet that Jennifer Aniston swore by proposes a 40:30:30 ration for carbohydrate, protein and fat respectively. It should work in theory but I never got to try this out as I found it rather difficult to calculate exactly how much protein there is in a fillet of red snapper.

South beach, my current experiment is confusingly similar to the Atkins Diet as it is also a low carb regimen that encourages you to fill up on meat and veggies and leave the starch alone. Unlike the Atkins, it is low in fat, so theoretically, it should work.

So, I'm living on vast quantities of salads and boiled broccoli and some chicken and fish, while gazing wistfully at other diners' buttered bread and steamed rice.

I just hope it'll be worth it.

By Kawshiki Nasser

Dearest Diary,
I am here today to put in writing, my pet peeve. I hate going to the doctor's. I guess in reality most of us feel this way except my friend Shefi, who absolutely goes on a high when she has a doctor's appointment, but then again, not everybody is a “Shefi”. I hate going to the doctors with a vengeance. I feel that even dying is better. Ironically though, I have been to the doctor's quite a few times more than my fair share.

Anyway, my first time to the doctor's was right after I got married. With the sudden influx of rich food in my diet, my body retaliated, and I got food poisoning. So the whole clan of in-laws had to take me to the CMH. With the stomach cramps, I decided to check out the bathroom. And that was it. A huge, brown, healthy (read: fat) cockroach was staring at me with such intensity, it cured me in a flash. My intestines choked up and I was ready to go home.

The second time I landed in a hospital was far away from home in Hong Kong. Again, my body was not used to such hard work as vacuuming, cooking, bathroom cleaning, etc, so my spine locked up. An ambulance was called. Six beefy men trussed me up like a sack of potatoes on to a cold, steel stretcher, wrapped me in a tiger-balm, menthol-y smelling blanket and whisked me away to the hospital. There, my doctor kept banging a small hammer on my knees and kept saying “tete? a tete?” “tete? a tete?”. I had such a look of bewilderment on my face that my husband decided to decipher my doctor's words for me. Apparently he was saying “bite your teeth”, “bite your teeth”. Oh Lord! Talk about miscommunication.

The third time was when my friend Asif decided I needed to have my thyroid gland removed. I readily agreed. A few days of shopping in sunny Bangkok prior to the operation seemed…well…very sunny. Anyway, I checked into the hospital and the first thing they did was, give me a gown to wear which did not have a back! Just strings! Mallaika Sherawat would be very comfortable in this sort of attire, on the other hand, I was rather squirmy. Rather “airy” in the day for me. My friends still make a big deal out of that incident because I checked in with my two sunflower cookie jars. I thought if I go up to the pearly gates, I wasn't going to leave my cookie jars behind.

The fourth time was in the land of “sawadika” again. To get my 5 pound fibroid out. Did my MAC, shoes and bag shopping and dutifully got my operation done. I was beginning to feel like a pro at the OT. I even instructed my anesthetist to knock me out even before they give the epidural. They obliged. Woke up to pain and discomfort, but entertained myself with my MAC cosmetics everyday. It was like playing with blocks. Lined them up, counted them, took them in and out of their boxes and had a blast. Then in the midst of such mindless fun, my sister let the cat out of the bag. She told me that, along with my uterus my ovaries were also gone. This came as a major shock to me as my husband thought that telling me this wasn't all that important just yet. Titash's comment didn't help either. He asked me to check with the doctors before I left whether my husband pawned one of my kidneys to pay the hospital bill. He still hadn't said anything.

Anyways the latest trip to the doc's office was in Bombay last month. I laid a heavy dose of guilt upon my sister. I said since she hasn't been there for any of my two operations, this time she had to accompany me. Well, to cut a long story short, the doctor part went well but another part also went very well. We two sisters bonded on a new level. We were stuck to each other like glue and chatted away way into the night and laughed and giggled like schoolgirls. On our breaks from the hospital, we went celebrity hunting, shopping, eating, beach combing, getting makeovers, working out (my sister, not me), and some more shopping. It was like re-discovering each other more as friends than sisters. And on this note I want to thank cum apologize to my brother-in-law for sparing her to be with us. I know it must be tough to live without her, not only because she is his wife, but for the live wire person she is. She livens up whoever she is with. So this is my turn. You'll have her for the next ten months.

And now in retrospect, my coming visits to the doctor ain't seeming so bad now that I want more…
So diary, to all the hypochondriacs in the world, have a good day the Sam Q. way.

Hot Beef Satays
4 tbsp coconut milk
3tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp soft dark brown sugar
10cm lemon grass, thinly sliced into rounds
4 red or green sliced chilies
2tsp crushed garlic
2tsp grated fresh root ginger
675g rum, sirloin or blade steak cut into 1cm cubes
Handful of torn basil, to garnish
1. Soak 16 satay sticks or bamboo or wooden skewers in water. For the marinade, mix the coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar, lemon grass, chilies, garlic and ginger and put in a shallow dish. Thread the beef cubes on the skewers. Put them in the marinade, turn them until well coated and leave for at least 15 minutes
2. Barbeque over glowing embers or char grill for about two minutes on either side, basting with the remaining marinade until golden outside and slightly rosy inside.


Computer virus: The epidemic

If your computer is loose at the seams, all it takes is a virus to unravel it completely. It is universally accepted that technology has seeped into literally every sector of our lives. Technologically speaking, the word "virus" is no more confined to everyday diseases and fevers…it has a more menacing meaning - an interpretation that haunts the dreams of "technologically advanced" people.

Generally, computer viruses are transmitted through the internet. They are engineered by virus specialists, and can range from being merely pesky to an alarming epidemic. Pesky viruses just sit in the computer, slowing it down, flashing unwanted messages and seem interested in switching off the computer in the middle of work. These species are the more "friendly" types, harmless (but annoying) as the bits of lunch that cling to your neighbour's teeth. However, not all viruses are as "nice". For instance, a virus called Mydoom Worm infected approximately a quarter-billion computers on a single day in January 2004. Furthermore, back in March 1999, the Mellisa virus forced a number of corporate giants, including Microsoft, to fully shut down their e-mail systems till the virus could be contained.

Like biological viruses, a computer virus has the ability to spread from one computer to the other. A virus, by itself, however, has no power. It is a "lifeless" piece of software that piggybacks on real programs. For example, if a virus attaches itself to a spreadsheet program, the virus runs every time the spreadsheet runs, and has a chance to reproduce.

E-mail viruses, the most common form of virus, replicates itself by automatically mailing itself to dozens of people in the victim's e-mail contact list. There are also "worms", that spread through the security holes, infecting a whole computer network in its wake. In addition, there are "Trojan Horses" which are programs that claim to do something (such as run a game), but once opened may totally erase your hard disk.

Security Measures:
Viruses invade. So, keep alert all the time. It is a must, again, a MUST- that you have an anti-virus software installed. Norton, McAfee and PC Cillin are some of the popular anti-virus software. Be sure that they are updated to protect your computer from new viruses. Remember, there are ongoing wars between the anti-virus firms and the virus-creators. Every once in a while, new viruses are tailored to outsmart the existing anti-viruses, thus forcing the creation of new versions of these software.

Also, avoid programs from unknown sources. This includes the internet as well. This is a major reason as to why viruses are sieved through download engines like Kazaa.

Moreover, it is important (rather mandatory) that you scan your e-mail attachments for virus before downloading. Spreadsheets, Word files and images are usually safe as they contain data. However, a file with an extension like .EXE and .VBS should not be opened without scanning, as they usually contain executable virus. This is to say, once you run the program, you are giving the virus permission to do anything to your computer.

Additionally, run disk cleanups and defragmentations every once in a while. It is easier if you set up an automatic cleanup, that checks your computer periodically at the specified time (eg. every week, bi-weekly or monthly).

It sure is difficult (an understatement!) to watch your whole life come crashing down because of a simple virus. Keep your computer healthy, and I am sure you will be fine.

By Shahmuddin Siddiky


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