In college, my pal, Martha, embarked on six weeks of The Red Diet. She ate only red and white foods, while red lights flashed on her tummy and drumming music blasted through the stereo. We chuckled watching her gobble up sirloin steaks (red meat), vanilla ice cream and Twinkie innards. After six weeks, she wasn’t a portrait of health, but who were we to judge?

Oh, the long and checkered past of the alternative diet.

This month marks one year since I gave up flour and sugar entirely. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, that does not include almond flour or any gluten-free products. I’m a purist, for better or worse. Real fruits, veggies, organic meats and legumes are my staples.

The number one question I get is, “Do you feel better?” My dualistic response is a puzzler. Yes, and no. Yes, I enjoy sleeping better and less joint pain. But no, I do not like constant food planning and feeling the odd duck in social situations. At a recent happy hour, there was no rosé for me (bummer!) but I easily crossed my legs (winner!). See what I mean?

The number two reaction I get is, “I could never give up ______” [reader, it’s always chocolate]. But the thing is, you could. You could! Look at Martha and her red diet. Sure, she had unlimited mashed potatoes, but she had to give up lemon tarts! (A decidedly yellow food.)

What I’m getting at here is you have to pick your weird. Would you rather feel like a wacko packing canned food for a flight to Philly or a nerd who has to nap every afternoon from eating too many donuts? I choose the former. For now. Weird, right?

But hey, it’s Austin. And I’m right on-brand. 


Cate Berry is an Austin-based children’s book author and mother of two. She also teaches writing workshops for young people at

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