Pitting the Fad Diets Against Each Other

We took a look at some of the media's recent dietary darlings (aimed at both women and men) to see how they compare to the current gluten-free blitz. 

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Though the New York Post is sticking by the Manhattan Girl diet, many media outlets have decided gluten-free is the diet du jour. But is it only a flash in the proverbial pan? And which fad diet is right for you? We took a look at some of the media's recent dietary darlings -- "Manhattan Girl," "Gay Food," and "Paleo" -- to see how they compare to the current gluten-free blitz.

The Actual Diet:

Gluten-Free: Cut out grains like wheat, barley, and rye. This also means saying no to certain types of flours, which probably means you will have to say goodbye to breads, cakes, pies, cookies, and crackers, unless they're marked "gluten-free". You can definitely partake in delicious things like hominy and, as the Mayo clinic notes, arrowroot. The Mayo Clinic also says that the diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease, but it's also found some mainstream legs.

Manhattan Girl: According to The Post and Eileen Daspin's new book, this one come from Daspin's skinniest Manhattan friends. "Daspin reveals that Manhattan women don’t starve themselves — they eat good quality food and the occasional treat," according to the Post. This means reducing Chinese food into "string beans and rice", turning Tootsie Roll pops or 3.5 Twizzlers into a "cheat," making sure there's something to throw away on your plate, and eating lots of quinoa, spelt, Kamut, and rye. Oh, and diluting alcoholic drinks with ice, water, and seltzer. On the health benefits, Daspin argues, "I think it's unhealthy to deprive yourself of stuff."  Jezebel's Madeleine Davies, has her own snarky take on the Manhattan Girl diet in which one of the integral components means never being able to afford more than a side salad.

Gay Food: "Gay food is lighter and brighter. It feels art-directed, not just tossed together and deep-fried, with an attention to aesthetic and dietary detail," wrote The New York Times' Jeff Gordinier on a lunch date with Gay Food chieftain Simon Doonan. This tongue-in-cheek approach means incorporating meaty, fatty "straight" foods with lighter "gay" foods like sushi, salads, and greens.

Paleo: Anything a caveperson would eat--fruits, vegetables, wild game. This means avoiding bread (which didn't come until the advent of agriculture). The New York Times' Joseph Golstein wrote in 2010, "The caveman lifestyle, in Mr. Durant’s interpretation, involves eating large quantities of meat and then fasting between meals to approximate the lean times that his distant ancestors faced between hunts." Details magazine puts it simply, "If you can't hunt or gather it, you can't eat it."

The Defining Quote:

Gluten-Free: “If you eat that I can't kiss you," said gluten-free dieter Stacy Abrams in a DNAinfo report. Her date had just ordered a German pretzel for dinner. "I will get really sick," is never good date fodder.  Runner up goes to Salon's Molly May, who writes after embarking on her new diet, that, "First, the brain fog lifted. Instead of plodding, I pranced from task to task ...I woke ready for the amazing day ahead, and if that involved being on hold for 52 minutes with my credit card company, then so be it.

Manhattan Girl: "The oil on the string beans is enough to moisturize the rice ... I eat with chopsticks, which helps [me] take smaller bites," said one of Daspin's friends.

Gay Food: "There’s a lethal amount of fat in guacamole," said Doonan in the Times interview. "A friend of mine was just going off to Mexico, and I said to her: ‘If you get kidnapped, remember to tell your kidnappers: no guacamole. You cannot be in a confined space ingesting guacamole. You’ll become so enormous.'"

Paleo: "I didn’t want to do some faddish diet that my sister would do,” one Paleo dieter told The Times. 

The Person:

Gluten-Free:  "All across America, Gen Y women, and some of their hip elders, were attaching the label to themselves as if it were a sparkly tiara," writes May about the Gluten-Free fad.

Manhattan Girl: Daspin's skinny (and possibly hungry?) New York City friends.

Gay Food: Gay men, but it's because they balance gay and straight foods best. "Gay men don’t stay trim because they only eat gay food. I don’t live on macarons and lettuce," says Doonan.  Doonan does say that his book and its not-so-serious diet regimen is aimed at his female fans.

Paleo: New York bachelors, according to The Times, which dubs them "urban cavemen."  They're quick to remind you tough, "The tribe is not indigenous to New York."

The Celebrity Endorsement:

Gluten-Free: Novak Djokovic. Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Susie Essman. Keith Olbermann. Drew Brees.Chelsea Clinton.

Manhattan Girl: The Post tabs women like Sarah Jessica Parker and Tina Fey, who live in Manhattan, as proprietors of a Manhattan Girl diet. But for now, it's mostly Daspin's skinny friends.

Gay Food: Barney's creative ambassador Simon Doonan.

Paleo: Apparently, at one time, Megan Fox.

And Are They Dateable?

Gluten-Free: It sounds a bit difficult, but yes. "The hazards of going out to eat on dates for gluten-free New Yorkers can be daunting. Singles have to call a restaurant in advance, warn their waiters of food allergies, and double check the meal is safe — all to avoid the chance of accidental contamination by wheat, a ubiquitous ingredient," reports DNAinfo's Serena Solomon.

Manhattan Girl: We don't really know, but going by the brand of logic The Post employs: Sex and The City's Carrie Bradshaw was a "Manhattan Girl" and she had lots of dates.  Just don't make fun of your date's lone string bean sitting atop her "moisturized" rice.

Gay Food: Sure. But say goodbye to comfort food and certain pies.

Mr. Doonan asked about the pie.

“It’s a cappuccino mousse with an Oreo-cookie crust and whipped cream,” the waiter replied.

Mr. Doonan made a gurgling sound.

“I thought it was maybe going to be organic pears lightly braised in ...” he said, then trailed off.

“We are, how you say, comfort food,” the waiter said.

“Yes,” Mr. Doonan said. “Thank you.”

Paleo: We'll let this charming Paleo dieter from the Details profile speak for himself:

Dressed in a black polo shirt, his Equinox gym membership tag suspended from his key chain, he speaks of this transformation as if it were indeed some sort of religious experience. "Everybody these days wants to talk about food," he says. "On a date or at a party, all I have to do is start talking about my diet and I have people's attention for the next hour."

Photos: via Shutterstock and Yuri Arcurs, flickr user: Oceanic, AP

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