Don’t you just get sick of all the diet and so-called healthy lifestyle stuff that begins being thrown at you on 27th December and continues relentlessly throughout the month of January?
I know I do. You can’t open a paper or magazine without pages and pages of diets – either boring or ridiculous – shouting out at you. And then we have weekend supplement after weekend supplement filled with apparently ‘easy’ ‘delicious’ virtuous recipes very few of which the average normal person would want to cook, or even shop for, even if they really were easy and delicious.
Cooking every day is hard enough without having to grapple with some of the ‘important’ ingredients I’ve noticed in lots of recipe collections this month. Hemp milk, seaweed, kelp noodles, drops of cannabis oil in your smoothie – just what we all want, aren’t they?
And of course, we’ve to take the newer vegan meat-replacements on board our plates, too. Just as we’ve about got to grips with cooking Quorn mince instead of beef mince sometimes and are thinking we may try tofu instead of chicken in our next stir-fry (if that’s you, do buy marinated tofu as at least it has some flavour) we’re having to wonder what on earth to do with the trendy pork replacement, jackfruit out of a can, or seitan – a processed wheat gluten, in case you’re wondering and yes, everyone bar you and me is apparently into it right now.
Oh, I don’t know. I still like eggs or a piece of decent mature hard cheese. Or for my meat and dairy free days (which I do feel like once or twice a week) I find nothing wrong at all with a lovely butternut squash curry with some chickpeas thrown in for protein, or a lasagne made with roast peppers, courgettes and aubergine and topped with vegan cheese sauce (all the supers do one now; most are good).
My point really is that while it is good to evolve our eating habits to be better for the planet and better for us, the greatest minds in the words will be debating for years on what really is best for our world and our future (just think about the latest row about avocados (NO-GO now, in case you missed it), and, as I found out when researching my latest version of The Food Bible last year, there is no greater folly when it comes to your health and waistline than to jump on board every new trend, and/or take as a given what some self-serving doc or salesperson is trying to persuade you is the one thing you can’t live without. It’ll cost you a fortune, probably will do you no good at all, and will be unlikely to make you happy.
And on top of all the diet and trendy eating debates raging through the early weeks of the year, we of course had the ‘Is obesity a disease?’ row all over the media for a couple of weeks after the Royal College of Physicians said it was.
No, of course it isn’t a disease. Just look up the definition of disease and you will see being fat doesn’t fit. Yes, obesity can cause disease, and yes, some – a very few - diseases can cause obesity. And yes, obesity is a condition which costs the NHS and the UK economy a great deal of money.
But the plain truth - something to savour for February - is that being fat, or very fat, is usually a lifestyle condition that has a simple solution. Eat less, especially of high-sugar, high-refined carb foods, and get your body moving. And that in the world of diet, food, health and fitness is probably the only truth that will never change.
You haven’t spent your January forcing yourself to drink hot water and lemon juice every morning, have you, by any chance? Good. There’s little health or diet benefit (unless you would have downed a large brandy otherwise or two cans of full-sugar cola) and it has now been proved that the teeth of regular lemon juice drinkers are eleven times more likely to be eroded than those of other people. A black coffee or a cup of tea is just fine, honestly.