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Dr. Roberts’ Good Ol’ Southern Diet

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By Dalton Roberts, Chattanooga Times Free Press* • • December 16, 2008

“Remember, Atkins was a New Yorker. He had no concept of fidelity to southern roots and culinary traditions.”

If you want to make your fortune as an author, just crank out a new diet book. Judging by the number on the market and how long they stay on the bestseller lists, it must be the key to fame and fortune. I could write one but I am going to share my own diet with you today at absolutely no cost except the fifty cents you paid for this newspaper.

One of my motivations is that I care for you. I’m a politician and I wouldn’t lie to you. I am completely fed up with the way fat people are abused by the hollow promises of expensive diet books. Another motivation is that I am a super nice guy and want you to learn to trust me so I can write on more interesting topics like improving your love life.

Like you, I have seen hundreds of friends follow a diet long enough to shuck a few pounds but I have never seen one person keep it off. Let that sink in. Not one person. So you have nothing at all to lose by trying my diet.

The good news is that my diet will not require you to be gnawing on a cow all the time. None of that Atkins all-meat-and-no-potatoes foolishness. Neither will it require you to graze all the time in soybean fields.

Some experts criticize the meat and protein diets for the high fat level. My main criticism is that they are all unpatriotic in forbidding cornbread. It is unthinkable for a southerner to eliminate cornbread from its time-honored place on the daily table. Remember, Atkins was a New Yorker. He had no concept of fidelity to southern roots and culinary traditions. If anyone tries to take away your cornbread, get you a rifle and take a stand.

If you like meat, you will have no problem staying with my diet.

It allows barbecue for breakfast, squirrel and dumplings once a week and a Sunday dinner of possum and sweet potatoes. Possum and squirrel are readily available in this part of the country and birdwatchers consider it patriotic to serve squirrel. The highway department provides appreciation certificates for those who serve possum.

If you don’t know how to cook them, my sister has a cookbook from Hog Valley, Florida(1) with a wonderful recipe for squirrel and dumplings. It doesn’t matter how you cook possum and sweet potatoes. It has the same memorable aroma and sweet taste no matter how it is cooked.

The secret to healthy meat eating is to never overeat. There is no record in the annals of dietary science of anyone ever overeating squirrel and possum, making them the safest meats for human consumption. You can’t beat a record of zero heart attacks.

When you dine out, the only requirement is that you sit in the smoking section. It will clog all eight sinuses and take away your taste. Ever notice how much less you eat when you can’t taste?

Your age will determine how closely you have to adhere to my diet.

From birth to 10, nothing will make you fat but Milky Ways, Snickers and milk shakes. From 10 through 40 nothing will make you fat except gravy and biscuits. From 40 to 60, a simple diet of tree bark will widen you in the middle. After 60, oxygen will do it. It grieves me to tell you but after 60 you must quit breathing to lose a pound.

The centerpiece of my diet is a daily breakfast of biscuits and sawmill gravy.(2) All you want. I am especially faithful in following this part of the diet. Most of the time I don’t want a bite for lunch and nothing to drink except Alka Seltzers. Hey, Alka Seltzers don’t have a single calorie!

If you adopt this fine diet, please send me before and after pictures. I can see the ad now: “Just look what possum can do.”
* This article is reproduced with kind permission of the author, Dalton Roberts (“The Downhome Philosopher”), from the Friday, May 7, 2004 issue of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chattanooga, Tennessee To read more of Mr. Dalton’s amusing columns, visit his website at E-mail Dalton Roberts at

1. Perhaps The Original Road Kill Cookbook?

2. A thick milk gravy cooked in pork sausage fryings; variation of the ham-based red-eye gravy.

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Article Comments Post a Comment

southern food
Posted by: mamacilla
Jan 14, 2009
guess i might as well trade in the tree bark for some spaghetti. hilarious!
Reply Reply
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