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2021: reasons to be cheerful

Judith Wills / 01 January 2021

2020 is behind us, and a new year is here. There's plenty to look forward to in 2021, including all the things we missed out on last year.

Friends and family watching fireworks together
With 2020 behind us it's time to look ahead to a more positive year

So. Twenty twenty one. At last. Thank goodness you’re here. You surely can’t be any worse than the old disastrous bad-luck infested year we’ve just got rid of. And perhaps you’ll be better.

So very many of my friends and family – and indeed, I – found the old year a very unlucky one, a trying one, and a time to have to try very hard in order to keep cheerful by whatever means. Yes, Covid was and is a ghastly pandemic few of us could have imagined but in 2020 it almost seemed to be part of (or perhaps the cause of?) a greater negative force that kept coming back, to make coping with the threat or reality of covid not the only grotty thing we had to do by a long way.

Almost everyone I speak to talks of how difficult the year’s been on many levels. We had a massive tree fall down on our house which caused many months of problems and little peace or comfort. My friend lost most of her savings through an online scam. Another good friend, fit as the proverbial all his life, has recently become virtually paralysed and bedbound due to a rare nerve disease. I could go on – I hardly know anyone who has had a good, or even a semi-normal year, even if you can discount the myriad immediate effects of the pandemic.

On a global level it’s been worse than ‘normal’ with devastating fires, floods, civil unrest and more, the like of which we haven’t seen for years. Apparently, Nostradamus predicted 2020 to be dodgy, in case you want to know.

And what, you may ask, has all this misery got to do with diet, food and health?

Well, I’ll tell you.

You may recall that the spring of 2020 was when we all began to put on our ‘lockdown weight’. We were home too much. We couldn’t see friends, couldn’t go to work (maybe didn’t even have a job anymore), couldn’t do much at all, in fact, except eat and drink and be, if not merry, then slightly numbed to it all. By summer it was online (no shops open!) to get clothes in a larger size.

And of course, having put on the lockdown weight it was then a cause to get even more miserable at the thought of having to lose it again. So it was Joe Wicks time or Sophie Ellis Bextor’s kitchen discos, or on your bike. See me on a bike round here? No – it’s either so hilly it’s impossible, or too dangerous with the increased number of harassed guys/gals in large delivery vans tearing round the lanes bringing our endless supplies from Amazon or Sainsburys.

So do I have a plan for a healthy 2021? Sort of. What you do is be thankful for all the potentially good things the year may bring, and soon. You realise that we’ve had the shortest day so spring’s well on its way. Good. Tick. It’s only a few weeks till pancake day, and then soon it will be snowdrop time too. Two more ticks. And with a bit of luck, most of us will soon be protected from Covid too, fingers crossed. Big tick. Big fingers crossed.

And so on - let us say/pray that the rogue year has gone, this year is going to be better, and so we have to get our bodies feeling and looking good to get them into the happy vibe, too.

You all know what to do by now. You barely need me to tell you, but I’ll dash through a few basics that always work for me. Foodwise, don’t buy what you don’t want to end up on your waist (eg sweet treats). Eat a healthy diet with lot of veg – believe me at this time of year nothing’s better than a glorious veggie soup with a bit of mature grated cheese on top, or a Balti butternut squash and lentil curry on pilau. And a few nice pancakes allowed, February only. Get moving, even if it’s no more than a walk round the block every day. Anything physical that you do that is more than you were doing, is good. Try to do a bit more regularly as your fitness improves.

As covid, hopefully, gradually lessens its grip as the year progresses, get out there and do all the stuff you weren’t able to do last year. Keeping busy and interested in life, and helping others if you can is THE best way to forget all about chocolate and cakes and puddings, and much better for your happiness levels.

You’re still here. I’m still here. Let us rejoice, and enough positive voices might just do the trick.

Happy New Year!

The Food Bible

Judith Wills is the author of the bestselling The Food Bible, White Owl Publishing, out now.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.