|Daniel McLaughlin culminates each month's diet with a multi-course feast open to the public.
wants to free you from your food phobias, and that's why he's eating a different diet each month of 2010. "I was curious," he writes on his blog The Thirteenth Diet
, "How can there be so many mainstream diets in our country where people can scientifically prove opposing theories and still be right?"
From macrobiotics in January to Ayurvedic in August, Philadelphia resident McLaughlin takes to one prescribed way of eating (see all twelve diets here
) each month, experimenting with recipes and techniques to make delicious meals meant to persuade doubters they, too, can live happy and healthy on diets perceived as restrictive. "I'm just a normal person, not some astrophysicist of food," says McLaughlin, who designs and builds furniture, as well as serving tables at Old City's Amada at night. "I give myself 30 days to really explore each diet and learn its inner workings. The end result is taking shape --I'm trying to form "the thirteenth diet"... that takes parts from all of these mainstream diets to create a 'super diet'."
Self-educated in nutrition, McLaughlin was accepted to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition
in NYC last year, but ultimately decided it was not the right place for him. "I wanted to be a food therapist," he said, "but it seemed limited in scope. This project will allow me to reach a much broader range of people," he said, adding that he has plans for a book based on the yearlong project.
To demonstrate the pleasure, rather than privation of eating according to a diet, McLaughlin cooks and hosts a feast in the last days of the month in his South Philadelphia home, dubbed Wharton Heights. April's Gluten-Free Feast
, a single seating of 24 people, will happen this Fri., April 30
at 7 p.m.
Interested parties may reserve a space for the five-course meal by filling out the contact form
on The Thirteenth Diet's website, or by visiting their Facebook page
. You can see the menu, which includes bread, gnocchi and other typically glutinous treats, here
. Word-of-mouth buzz may make future feasts a harder ticket to come by; producers from WHYY's radio show "A Chef's Table" will be recording Friday's celiac-friendly event.
When I suggest people may react negatively to his project based on the unfun connotations of the little word diet
, McLaughlin responds with self-deprecating mirth. "You know, I saw that KFC Double Down commercial and I thought, 'the world needs me more than ever!'
"We've been trained and marketed to to want extreme sweets and salts, but when you start eating right your palate adjusts and you don't want that anymore... in the traditional sense of the word, diet means the food you eat every day, as your way of life. Everyone should be on a diet."