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'Diets Are Sad'... Quit the January Detox!

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Agreeing with an advert that seduces you into buying a product you don't need is a rather rare feat, now that marketing and Photoshopping have created an unachievable fairy tale forever out of reach.

So it was somewhat of a surprise to actually take a shine to the latest campaign from Pret A Manger.

During a recent trip to London, I couldn't help but notice a poster in the window of their Victoria Station branch (which I appreciate was no doubt strategically Blu-Tack'd to woo passers-by into its consumer net). Yet the message was so starkly different to the relentless assault of television commercials, magazines, smartphone apps and internet pop-ups telling us how to look like a Victoria's Secret supermodel or Men's Health cover star, that it practically deserved a Nobel Prize for engineering an alternate path in opposition to the media's mantra. It brandished the simple statement 'Diets Are Sad'.

The sentiment was accompanied by an image of a lone ranger gingerbread man with a gaping hole in its tummy to insinuate hunger. There was no towering calorific triple sarnie to make you salivate down your Primarni suit, while struggling to function on a handful of edamame beans. Relying on the power of words alone to entice customers in seemed a bold, yet applaudable method, rather than relying on an edited, enhanced, and ultimately fabricated vision of a doctored photograph.

While the self-esteem boosting slogan may seem like the comforting conviction you'd expect from a friend to ease the post-Christmas-muffin-top January blues, I'm also fully aware business is business. There's no question potential buyers are preyed upon in a ploy to ship gluttonous lashings of mayo down our oesophaguses faster than we can say 'BLT'.

Nonetheless, whatever the motive, the message is crystal clear - diets ARE sad.

And while Pret are a food chain, and their motto is unlikely to appear on a billboard for Topshop promoting their latest range of size 12-16 clothes, perhaps we can beat to their drum in 2013.

The countless Facebook updates about 'detox Jan' or 'juice diets' highlight that indulging over the festivities seems to be a punishable sin that can only be rectified by then abstaining from life's joys.

Weight and food intake will always be subjective in how one seeks to look after his or herself, but tipping the scales by a few extra pounds at the beginning of a new year should not then equate to starvation to re-sculpt back to unattainable proportions.

Then comes the stream of follow-up statuses, with people chastising themselves for caving into carbs - or God forbid, SOLIDS - once the self-imposed malnourishment has failed due to the irrational and unpredictable mood swings that materialise while living off liquid alone.

Going back to regular routine, minus the morning Bucks Fizz and mince pies, seems to be so 2005.

This yo-yo effect, all or nothing, disallows for anything in-between. We must be gorging or deprived. It's superseded the British charm of talking about the weather. Everyone's in the club.

The front cover of OK! magazine this month boasts that readers can 'Get a body like Denise Van Outen' - despite the fact she has just spent several months dedicated to Strictly Come Dancing, whereas the majority of the population are either sitting behind a desk at school or in the office without round-the-clock tuition, nutrition, monitoring and personal training.

It brags that the inside pages possess the secrets of how to 'lose over a stone in six weeks'. What if the reader in question is an impressionable 16-year-old who doesn't even hit the nine stone mark to begin with? What if... ? What if... ?

What if we boycott these headlines and revolutionise the way we think about diets? What if we create new year resolutions that allow us to achieve things instead of denying ourselves?

To indulge shouldn't result in belittling your reflection at the end of the day. To refrain shouldn't be rewarded with a pat on the back for only consuming vegetables from the blender.

After all, we're here for a good time, not for a long time.

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