If it's December, it can only mean one thing: oily potato latkes and sufganiot shot full of jelly or chocolate, and in the days following, guilt over having ingested so many calories, especially of the saturated fat variety. This guilt, in turn will lead to the annual promise to myself to lose weight. This is a secret resolution, since if I blab about it to my friends I actually have to take it seriously, which is really not at all fun. What about the fact that I'm posting my intention on the internet for all to see? Well, let's just keep this between us.

Still, I have to make at least a half-hearted effort, so the question becomes: what gambit shall I choose this time? I boned up on the latest spate of diet books, and have decided to encapsulate them for you, as a public service to the cybersphere. Here's what I found:

  • "The Pineapple Principle" -- Every meal begins with a pineapple starter and ends with a hot chile pepper and mustard chaser. The combination of these "thermogenic" foods is supposed to scare the metabolism nearly to death, which makes it burn fat quickly. (Not recommended for people with acid reflux.)

  • "Protein A'Plenty Planet" -- Steak and eggs for breakfast, chicken or beef for lunch and dinner. A half a cup of broccoli or other green vegetable is allowed every other Tuesday. Fridays are "free" days, meaning you can splurge on radishes and an eighth of a cantaloupe. Theory: the protein builds muscle, while the elimination of joy in eating depresses the appetite.
  • the protein builds muscle, while the elimination of joy in eating depresses the appetite.

  • "Hollywood Celeb Special Effects Diet Beverage" -- For those who won't miss chewing, this diet consists of guzzling a concentrated, glow-in-the-dark vitamin-enriched drink that substitutes for a meal. Add water, shake, and drink up! Time saved by not eating allows more time to work out.
  • "My Body, My Life" -- Wildly popular book written by a college dropout, this plan calls for eight small snacks a day, so as to keep the metabolism humming at a steady pace. The drawback: each snack must be nutritionally calibrated to have exactly 42.7 percent protein, 39.1 percent carbohydrates, and 18.2 percent fat. Even tiny variations in this formula will make you gain weight. To help maintain this tricky composition, the author sells shake mixes, protein bars and other prepared snacks that take the guesswork out of eating and any available discretionary income out of the wallet.
  • "Writer's Cramp Your Way To Thinness" -- A plan based on journaling for five hours per day about every aspect of eating: what you plan to eat, when you plan to eat it, emotional "triggers" that make you want to eat, emotional reactions you have to each mastication cycle, how much you enjoyed your food, and your relationship with your mother. The theory: devoting all this time to writing leaves time for only one meal a day.
  • "If You Lived On Okinawa, You'd Be Thin, Too" -- Based on research of centenarians living on Okinawa who do little except drink tea, garden, and repeat the mantra, "Hara hachi bu," which means, "Stop eating and go out for Tai Chi!" I tried saying "Hara hachi bu!" at dinner but all that happened was the kids said "Gesundtheit!" at regular intervals while handing me tissues.
  • "Bad Carbohydrates and the Women Who Love Them" -- Similar to "Protein A' Plenty Planet," this diet shuns carbohydrates and explains why women who allow carbohydrates to control their lives may never marry or have emotionally healthy relationships. Includes success stories from women who found freedom from rice and grains. At their weddings, the guests threw quinoa instead.
  • "The Happy Hour Scarfsdale Diet" -- This plan allows dieters to eat as many carbohydrates as they wish, provided they are all eaten in one hour or less a day. I know a married couple who tried this diet as a tag team. But when I invited them over one night for what I hoped would be a leisurely dinner with us, they kept looking at their watches, asking impatiently when dessert would be served. Entertaining is hard enough without this added pressure. ]
  • "The Swedish Meatball and Sushi Diet" -- Geared especially for Jews, this diet allows you to eat at Kiddush and at the pre-wedding smorgasbord, but not a single thing at the meals following, not even that tiny potato puff.

I considered each of these books and their recommendations, then promptly rejected them. Not only do I hate anything that smacks of regimentation, I once tried Tai Chi and found it induced a state of catatonic boredom. I also hate mustard and am allergic to cayenne pepper. Instead, I am going to get in shape and lose weight with a program of my own devising. I will call it, "Chew Less, Move More," a name that aptly sums up the premise. I'll cut way down on white flour, sugar and fat, and eat more low-calorie and vegetable-based foods, until next Chanukah when I will once again have no choice but to gorge myself on greasy holiday delicacies. But by then I'll already have written my own diet book and stretched a catchy four word title into a 250-page bestseller.