Ah, here it is, once again. After the regular intake of stories that demonise drunk women, we are subjected to a nice bit of body-shaming via billboards, TV ads and pop-ups, all telling us that we are not good enough, and quite clearly need to get off our arses and get on some sort of diet.
A quick internet search will reveal all manner of diets and fads. Keeping up with all of them, and what they mean takes some work. Apparently, the DASH diet is very popular, while the Paleo diet is dangerous as it eliminates whole food groups (so why is it a thing?). The MIND diet combines the DASH and the Mediterranean. You might be forgiven for thinking you need some sort of training just to understand all this twaddle, never mind actually going on any of them.
And of course, what do you need to go on the diet? Spend a crap load of money. There's the book, the app, the diet planner, the special delivery service, the shame alarm, the warning bell on your fridge that goes off whenever you open it. If it's marketed as 'healthy living,' you can bet your wobbly arse that there are a whole load of products to go along with it.
In a way, I feel a bit left out. Having ditched any sort of fad dieting years ago, it's almost a bit of an anti climax to just carry on my eating habits and life in exactly the same way as I did last year, except perhaps with a bit less meat and cheese than I was eating over Christmas. We're beguiled by this idea of a 'new you.' It's all very romantic to think you can change what you eat, join a spinning class and then be one of those superwomen you see online that have seven children, manage their own online business, while running marathons, being witty and looking amazing all at the same time.
Don't get me wrong, I really like the idea of re-evaluating things, having a look back at what I achieved last year, what I'd like to do this year. All too often we're running about like headless chickens, it's nice to be able to have a little pause, slow down and appreciate what we have, what we'd like to have, before throwing ourselves back into the fray.
But the idea that the sole area of myself I should be working on is my physical appearance is, quite frankly, nonsense. There are skills I could be learning, languages, musical instruments, glass blowing (ok, maybe not), a whole plethora of opportunities that I could be taking on, yet somehow the biggest concern seems to be how big my arse is and if I can have a go at emulating a bunch of women on the TV or in magazines who've been personal trained and Photoshopped to within an inch of their lives. Frankly, I can think of far more useful ways to spend my time.
The not-so-hidden-secret is, of course, money. The diet industry is enormous. And largely, useless. If diets actually worked, we wouldn't need to be sold them every year. If diet food and drink actually made us thinner, they wouldn't need to keep selling it to us. Apparently (I'm not at all surprised), sugar free drinks have been found to actual exacerbate problems that lead to obesity. The response from The British Soft Drinks Association? "Scientific research shows that low-calorie sweeteners, such as those found in diet drinks, help consumers manage their weight as part of a calorie-controlled diet." What a wonderfully vague phrase. If you're controlling the calories in your diet, you could say that cake can also help you manage your weight. Once again, we're being pedalled food that is actually bad for us, with a 'diet' label slapped on it, to give us the false sense that it is healthy.
It isn't rocket science. The healthiest diet in the world is simply food that hasn't had much done to it. The less processes your dinner has gone through, the less likely it is to make you fat or ill. But that's not very exciting, is it? That's not going to make a flashy advert, or sell a lot of books and products. Because the big secret is; there isn't one.
So this year, why not ditch the fad diet for simply a new way of seeing the food you eat. Instead of lining the pockets of people who've been duping the public for years, invest in a trombone, or a glass blower. I guarantee it will give you more fulfilling results.
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