Let's talk food.

Normally, it's my favorite topic to talk about.

Not this week.

I got zapped with a gastrointestinal infection. I haven't eaten anything but crackers, chicken broth soups and Jell-O for a week.

I've been chugging Gatorade like a Pittsburgh Steeler line defenseman on an August 100-degree practice day in Heinz Field. (Doctor's orders. You would never find this God-awful sweet-tasting stuff near my lips otherwise! Ugggghhhhh!)

The smell of food even affects me. Cooking? Out of the question. Poor Harry has been existing on salads, soups, and leftovers, until they ran out.

I've learned that I can actually go a whole week without a cheesesteak. It's killing me, but it can be done.

I am going through food withdrawal. It hasn't been pretty.

When you can't lift your head up off the pillow, there's little to while away the time except watch TV. That's how I spent my weekend.

In my unscientific research, did you know that over the course of 10 hours, American viewers see approximately three hours of commercials, twice what they would have seen in the 1960s?

Do you know how many of those commercials are food commercials? If I had to guess, I would say out those three hours, two-and-a-half hours must be all about food.

I can sing the jingles to every fast-food restaurant known to man.

I can tell you what this week's specials are at Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Chili's. And I'd kill to be able to eat that Cajun Shrimp Pasta from Applebees right about now.

But back to my um, "research."

In one experiment, seven- to 11-year-old children who watched a cartoon that included food commercials ate 45 percent more snack food while watching the show than children who watched the same cartoon with nonfood commercials.

From only a half-hour of television viewing a day, the increase in snacking caused by food advertising would lead to a weight gain of nearly 10 pounds a year, unless mitigated by reduced consumption of other foods or increased physical activity.

In another experiment, the researchers found that adult participants exposed to unhealthy food advertisements in TV programming also ate significantly more than those who saw ads with a nutrition or healthy food message. Additionally, these effects persisted after the television viewing.

I can support that theory by saying that I have never rushed to the refrigerator after seeing the commercial of happy healthy children dipping beautiful fresh vegetables in Hidden Ranch Dressing or grabbed my car keys to rush to the grocery store for fresh fruit. Unfortunately for me.

In the experiments with both children and adults, food advertising increased eating for all available foods, even foods that were not specifically presented in the advertisements.

"This research shows a direct and powerful link between television food advertising and calories consumed by adults and children," said lead author Jennifer Harris, PhD, Director of Marketing Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. "Food advertising triggers automatic eating, regardless of hunger, and is a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic."

Duh. I think that's called "brainwashing." And I am living proof of this diabolical plan of the evil Food Devil.

It is suggested that reducing unhealthy food advertising to children is critical. (No. You think?)

I'll tell you something else that doesn't help us foodies. Watching shows like "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" with Guy Fieri. And the ultimate worst? "Man v. Food" with Adam Richman. He's always looking for the biggest and wieldiest eats, with some of the craziest eating challenges around the country.

Last night he ate a sandwich that included cheeseburgers, a mix of fried onion rings, chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks topped with macaroni and cheese. When he closed his eyes and told us how good it was, I wanted to leap off my recliner and grab it out of his hands! I almost licked the television set!

I am sooooo hungry for some disgustingly incredibly high-carbohydrates food that I day dream about it. I'm sitting here envisioning a thick juicy steak from Outback and a loaded baked potato dripping in butter, cheese and bacon. I yearn for a garlic bread cheesesteak from Tony's. I want to wallow in a plate of steaming spaghetti with meatsauce.

Geeesch! I don't need a doctor, I need a year's worth of rehab at Fatty Arbuckle's Fat Farm!

While I would love more than anything to have my appetite back, I have noticed something I haven't seen for a long time. My jeans are a bit loose in the waist. I could get use to that.

Hmmm. Could this be the start of something smaller?

I want to feel better. Really I do!

So God, I promise, as soon as I can eat again, from now on I'll try my best to eat less, like only one slice of Palmerton Pizza's scrumptious cheesesteak pizza instead of two. And when Harry eats an orange at 8 p.m., instead of Martin's Kettle Cooked Chips, I'll have an orange with him. And, and, and, gulp, I am going to try to not have a Coke a day. Maybe just once a week.

Hey! I said I'd try. I didn't say I could do it Cold Turkey!

Hmmm.

Turkey, turkey. My kingdom for a turkey sandwich!