The Jewish Chronicle - - Features -

ACOU­PLE OF months ago I had a health check. It went pretty well. All my or­gans were still in­tact and my weight was more or less what it should be.

The doc­tor did add, in a con­ver­sa­tional kind of way, that I was get­ting to the age where I was prob­a­bly find­ing it a bit tougher to keep my weight down.

“Ac­tu­ally,” I replied, “I haven’t re­ally no­ticed any prob­lems at all. My weight never seems to go up that much.”

Clearly, the weight-loss gods were lis­ten­ing and took ob­jec­tion to my hubris, be­cause two weeks later I had put on two ki­los, and a cou­ple of weeks af­ter that, a few more.

Why the sud­den weight gain? Well, when a med­i­cal au­thor­ity tells you that you might strug­gle to main­tain your weight, there is a ten­dency to panic and sud­denly get fat. There was also the fact that I was ex­per­i­ment­ing with Ashke­nazi food dur­ing this pe­riod for a fea­ture I was writ­ing and had de­vel­oped a prob­lem­atic salt-beef sand­wich habit.

Clearly I needed go cold turkey, or at least cold turkey sand­wich, be­cause my read­ing told me that if I left my body to its own de­vices I could be in trou­ble.

Af­ter the age of 40, two things hap­pen — you be­come pro­gres­sively less ac­tive, which means that calo­ries which were for­merly burnt off are now be­ing con­verted into adi­pose tis­sue — ie lard.

Not just that — the mus­cles shrink and your bones lose den­sity while the fatty bits get more lumpy. So you can step on the scales and be ex­actly the same weight as you were 10 years pre­vi­ously, but ac­tu­ally be car­ry­ing a paunch.

If I was a woman, I would know ex­actly what to do — in­vest in Ryvita and low-fat cream cheese, while cut­ting back on the chocolate and white wine.

But I’m not a woman — de­spite my lumpy bits — and any­way, ac­cord­ing to a book I am read­ing at the mo­ment, di­et­ing makes you fat.

I am hav­ing to face the fact that I am older than I used to be. Not just that — I’m go­ing to get a lot older still. Not a great prospect, but a lot bet­ter than the al­ter­na­tive.

So is there any­thing to be done to turn back the clock? I have ex­plored meth­ods of weight re­duc­tion that don’t make you ap­pear ef­fem­i­nate. Of th­ese, I like the sound of the cave­man diet. This means eat­ing only what they ate in the Stone Age — the kind of pro­tein you can trap your­self (hope­fully there will be a shochet on hand to dis­patch it), plus berries and roots. Ap­par­ently every­one was and healthy back then, al­though to be fair, few of them lived past 27.

See­ing as I can’t find any record of Stone Age sushi, I am go­ing to pass. But I could go low-carb. There is proven weight loss in this method and no ob­vi­ous down­sides as long as you don’t worry too much about kid­ney stones and can­cer.

How­ever, my pre­ferred route is to fol­low the ex­am­ple of a South Amer­i­can tribe I have been read­ing about. Even when they get re­ally old — over 45 — they are still amaz­ingly healthy, mainly be­cause they run ev­ery­where and ex­ist on a sim­ple diet based on corn­meal.

I can fol­low that without any trou­ble. Corn­meal is in essence the same as po­lenta — I’m think­ing sla­pup Ital­ian meal, washed down with a bot­tle of red, fol­lowed by a brisk walk home.

Watch out for the diet book.

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