Why you should never listen to health advice from a soap star

The Good Life Letter 

27th November 2015

We must be heading for THAT time of year again.

You can always tell by what is on the TV, the music on the radio and the stuff being written about in the papers.

Images of portly red faced chaps will be everywhere very soon, if you haven’t seen them already.

Yup, it gets earlier and earlier every year.

Walk into any shop and the trappings are all around to see and groan over.

I mean we haven’t had Christmas yet and already the diet industry is gearing up for its annual frenzy isn’t it?

Sorry, you thought I was talking about Christmas?

No, that began at the end of September! I’m talking about the over hyped diet talk that used to be confined to January along with the holiday ads and sofa shop sales.

Now though the diet promotions and gym membership packages are running riot already.

Back into our consciousness comes the 5+2 diet, the cabbage diet, the Paleo diet and the Atkins diet plus about 2 million more variations.
Honestly if any of them worked we would all be stick thin – but plainly we’re not and therefore they don’t.

However that doesn’t stop a marching army of ‘celebrities’ (or at least the ones that aren’t eating bugs in the jungle!) and health ‘experts’ from extolling the virtues of eating gravel and doing yoga wrapped in bin bags.

Really there is no need – and certainly not now.

This time of year should be about warming and filling foods that insulate us against the cold, not micro herbs and juiced beetroots.
Our traditional seasonal fare is a nice stew rich with root vegetables and perhaps a nice dumpling on the side.

Slow cooked meat that tenderises in the stock, turnips and Swedes softened by bubbling broth and a nice bit of steamed kale to add back some crunch – that’s what you need when Jack Frost is spreading his icy fingers over the land.

But no, this is the food that is victimised as damaging to our health – instead we are encouraged to buy a juicer and set about the veg box to create a smoothie of vitamins and anti-oxidants.

Bah Humbug!

Good eating is always healthy eating

I read a piece by Alex Renton in the Observer Magazine at the weekend which claimed to tell the truth about healthy eating.

He describes his personal approach to diet as being “don’t eat crap” but admits to occasionally cheating with a bag of cheesy Wotsits every so often.

In the article he identifies how the food industry are making a fortune out of food hysteria surrounding fat content, gluten content and salt levels.

By providing ‘special foods’ which are fat or gluten free and with lowered salt content the companies can charge more, and make bigger profits from stuff they would have sold as it was anyway.

For instance foods that contain no gluten such as chocolate, potato crisps and communion wafers (I kid you not!) suddenly get a GF label and a price hike of 20% or more.

The rate of growth in the sales of GF produce is faster now than that of organic produce sales in the 2000’s.

This is big business.

Think about it, if a food packet states that its contents are a major player in the Paleo diet, or suitable for those on a low-carb regime the manufacturer actually has to put less in but gets to charge more!

Tell me now that the food industry doesn’t like a good diet promotion.

When I look at the latest new food fad I often get really troubled
because none of them seem to include the basic principle of balance.

We are meant to have a varied diet, bringing together the best of foods in season with those which we can store – our bodies don’t cope with long term restrictions in what we can and can’t eat.

Take diets such as the Dukan diet, the New Atkins diet or the Paleo diet – to a greater or lesser extent they are all reductionist in what followers can eat.

By excluding foods groups such as fats, carbohydrates or red meat you are depriving the body of much needed trace elements, minerals or vitamins – and that means having to use additional supplements to replace them.

The whole process of diets really does leave me cold – they don’t make sense and invariably lead to further anxiety and disappointment.

Variety is the spice of real life

I keep coming back to my personal food crusade, and I realise I may be beginning to sound like a zealot.

But to me this answer to all of the food conundrums out there is simple; whether we are thinking about obesity, malnutrition, intolerances, allergies or basic health – you need the variety.

Plus, and this is the really important part, you need control over what you are being offered to eat and how it is prepared.

The good foods to eat are not what some celebrity half-wit tells you they are mostly eating this week, but that which is in abundance and in season.

Right now for instance you can feast like royalty on game meats, sea bass, scallops and mussels. To accompany them there is the finest in greens hitting their peak such as kale, sweet parsnip, cabbage, celeriac and Jerusalem artichoke.

Then who can resist a fine apple pie or crumble for dessert – these are all at their very best this month.

The problem is that for many households being presented with a brace of pheasants, a basket of bass or even a haunch of venison the prospect of preparing and cooking them is too scary.

But things couldn’t be easier and the results will be delicious – it just takes a bit of thought, and the knowledge to let you take the step into the unknown.

That’s why my Natural Food Wisdom package was created, and right now there is a 20% discount on offer – but only until the end of November.

So, as the very last of the wild mushrooms disappear so will the offer – visit the shop now and enter your unique code at checkout: NFWNOV15

I truly believe that this will prove to be the perfect gift for anyone you care about – giving them the insight into making better food choices, the knowledge to choose the right foods for them whatever their state of health and the inspiration they need to try out a few ingredients which they probably fear.

Yours, as always


Ray

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