When writer Gary Greenberg was 14 years old, he tried his first beer. He was on a boat in the middle of a river in Maryland with friends and family. All his friends were waterskiing while his family was staying back to enjoy some drinks. Greenberg had broken his leg and was in a cast longingly looking out from the deck.
At this point in Greenberg's telling of the story, his mom's best friend comes over to offer him a drink. She pulls out a Miller High Life and hands it to the young lad. Greenberg takes a sip, then pours the contents of the can into the river.
“It was the worst thing I ever tasted,” he recalls. “To this day, I still have no taste for Miller High Life."
Now 66, Greenberg has self-published a book about his relationship with beer and how he stays fit: The Beer Diet: How to Drink Beer and Not Gain Weight.
The Boca Raton resident describes the book as a sort of memoir that allows him to share stories about his life — and beer. “It’s a health book wrapped around beer,” he explains, adding that he wants the reader to feel as if it's a conversation wherein he's “telling you about beer, rugby, and my life.”
The writer admits that after his first beer as a teenager, he didn’t really go near the stuff until college at Penn State, where he played rugby.
“Beer and rugby go together because when you play a high-contact sport, you need a little anesthetizing after the game,” Greenberg explains. “It’s rugby tradition to grab a beer with your teammates and the same guys that you fought on the field are now your best friends after a beer.”
Originally from Philadelphia, Greenberg moved to South Florida in 1983 and has lived in Boca Raton for more than two decades. His college years nurtured his love of the hoppy beverage, but it was his many years working as a journalist covering the health beat that influenced his lifestyle. Greenberg says he’s able to maintain his athletic physique because of everything he’s learned through the years about body health.
The Beer Diet is a compilation of stories, recipes, and nutritional advice that Greenberg has found works for him. Acknowledging that every body type is different, Greenberg says he hopes people will read his book and be able to develop their own unique regimen.
“I’ve spoken to some of the smartest people in the natural-health industry," he says. And his book "gives that insight. The main point is that you have to make tradeoffs.”
One of the driving factors that prompted Greenberg to write The Beer Diet was coming to terms with reaching middle age and realizing his metabolism was going to slow down. In about the span of a decade, he gained about 20 pounds. He began to make adjustments — like trading lunchtime sandwiches for fiber-rich soups — and he lost the weight.
The biggest takeaway from The Beer Diet is that in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and drink all the beer your heart desires, you need to be willing to make compromises. Beer on your mind? Have soup for lunch and leave the doughnut in the box.
“I average about 20 beers or more a week,” Greenberg admits. “It’s more than I should drink, and I’m aware of that,” he says. But in spite of the calories from the beers he consumes, he’s able to maintain a healthy lifestyle because of what he does leading up to that first beer of the day. Early-morning workouts and a sensible diet are two of the main points he offers to his fellow beer lovers.
Greenberg has also started a YouTube channel where he shares lighthearted videos about beer. He’s hoping to make a brand around being the Beer Diet Guy. “It’s all just fun stuff," he says. "I don’t want anyone to take it too seriously.”
The Beer Diet is available on Amazon. Greenberg has pledged to donate a percentage of his book sales to Boca Helping Hands, a local food bank.