Real Life My (very stress­ful) 4-day diet

Ju­dith woods and her fam­ily at­tempt to tackle a new diet – with hi­lar­i­ous re­sults…

Woman (UK) - - This Issue -

‘how big Is a Medium potato?’

It’s been a month since Pub­lic Health Eng­land told us we are all too fat, and or­dered the en­tire coun­try to go on a diet. and speak­ing as a writer con­stantly bang­ing on about the obe­sity cri­sis, I’m de­lighted that healthy eat­ing is fi­nally on the menu.

From the per­spec­tive of a wife, mother, sous-chef and cook, how­ever, I feel dis­mayed that calo­rie count­ing has been de­creed (in my house de­cried) as the rec­om­mended route to col­lec­tive weight loss. Re­ally? Is that the best they can do? I’m all for cut­ting back, but I have no idea what a 400-calo­rie break­fast looks like, or how to make a 600-calo­rie lunch or din­ner, as the new guide­lines or­dain.

How many calo­ries are there in a medium potato? In fact, how big is a ‘medium’ potato? I Googled this, ob­vi­ously, and I swear if I see one more food blog­ger rec­om­mend­ing we start the day with ham and cheese frit­tata or herbed ri­cotta and tomato toast, I’ll have to club them with a box of Coco Pops. Be­cause here in the time-poor real world, rustling up per­fectly calorific break­fasts and text­book 600-calo­rie sup­pers is a heck of a lot more chal­leng­ing than post­ing pho­to­graphs of a buck­wheat pan­cake ar­tis­ti­cally strewn with fresh berries on so­cial me­dia.

As it is, every day, over­weight or obese boys in Eng­land con­sume 500 ex­cess calo­ries. Girls in the same weight cat­e­gory overeat by 290 calo­ries per day. No won­der more than one in five chil­dren in Eng­land who started first year of school in Septem­ber 2015 was obese or over­weight. What chance do they have of man­ag­ing their weight when, from such an early age, they have been overfed, or fed the wrong sort of calo­ries, ei­ther through ig­no­rance or ne­glect?

Full steam ahead

Is the an­swer to this pub­lic health is­sue to turn us into a na­tion of metic­u­lous calo­rie coun­ters? I sus­pect the very last thing the de­cid­edly un­catchy 400-600-600 dik­tat will do is in­stil a healthy at­ti­tude to food.

Whether I like it or not (I don’t, par­tic­u­larly – but then I never asked to be nit-comber in chief ei­ther), I have be­come de facto cus­to­dian of my fam­ily’s calo­ries.

Hence, for four days, I have en­deav­oured to feed my fam­ily the cor­rect calo­ries. Spoiler alert: cook­ing by num­bers is hor­ri­bly stress­ful.

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