Fad diets! You can’t move for them at this time of year. The Paleo diet – eat like a caveman. The Atkins Diet – ditch the carbs. The Raw Food Diet – er…eat raw food. The Mediterranean Diet – eat like that chap you met in Greece last year whose mother was over a hundred and who kept popping olives in his mouth like they were going out of fashion. Many of them have good things to recommend them. Some of them you have to be very careful with. Others are plain bonkers and should be avoided like the plague.
Daytime television is full of their inventors telling us the advantages of their system. They’ve nearly all got a book out and a DVD to go alongside it. The cynical part of me might think that they were just doing it as a money making exercise. After all, anyone can set themselves up as a nutritionist with a degree off the internet from some institution in California.
Food can be a complex issue and just keeping up with the science of it all can be difficult. Eggs, for example, used to be good (‘go to work on an egg’). Then they used to be bad (all that cholesterol is bad for you). Then they became good again (actually, all that cholesterol isn’t absorbed by your body anyway). I have a lot of sympathy for people who get confused by the science of it all. We don’t seem to know what is good for us and what is bad for us. It’s all a bit grey – like old-fashioned school mashed potatoes.
So what was wrong with the old, balanced diet approach? Have a couple of days off red meat. Eat more fruit and vegetables. Drink more water. Exercise 3 or 4 times a week (which can be anything from a brisk walk to training for the next Iron Man competition). And cut out processed food. Basically, if your food comes in a box with a picture on it (a pretty cow in a field, Venice in the sunshine or some other advertising trickery) it’s probably not very good for you. Eat well but don’t overdo it. We’ll all be happier for it.