Are all diets equal?

All diets are the same aren’t they? the overriding message of all diets is ‘eat less move more’ its that simple. So if its that easy why do so many of us fail to get it right?  lack of discipline, boredom, being hoodwinked by the media (it is a multi million pound industry after all ),lack of education or just by being lazy and not putting in the amount of effort needed.

Sure, a lot of these things will apply to a lot of people . I do believe we are what what we eat and I can’t fathom out if out if the nation is obese because we just eat more or if we just make bad choices, but can it be a simple as that can it? That we just have too many choices and we keep making bad ones.

I was never taken to restaurants as a child in the 70s, there just wasn’t the choice we have now and also due in part to my mothers obsession with  cleaning and a general mistrust that any restaurant would not be as clean as her kitchen (probably true) so the only opportunity I got to eat out was once a year when when we would do the annual school uniform buying trip to Croydon , it would take all day , hours on the bus and endless trudging in and out of shops, would be rewarded with  the child’s meal of fish fingers, chips and beans in BHS It was ok to eat there because mum had seen a documentary showing their ‘state of the art’ dishwasher so she was confident that all the cutlery was sterile. it is not surprising therefore that when I left home and started socializing that I loved going to restaurants, it was all new to me and quite a novelty to the rest of the country. Italian, Chinese, Indian, steak and chips , we made trips to London to visit a place called McDonalds .I loved it all.

So my diet at home was healthy? far from it. Mum cooked wholesome fat laden meals ( I still have never come across anyone who can make puff pastry the way she could). I think she still remembered rationing and liked the fact she could buy what she liked. you could say she had plenty of choice.We had home made, deep fried chips, steak and kidney pie or pudding, steamed suet pudding, sausages fried in lard, tea time snacks of toast and dripping. bread and butter that was more butter than bread and when it was the end of the month or she hadn’t had time to go to the shops we would have sugar sandwiches. I am struggling to remember any aspect of my diet growing up that was what we would call healthy today. So what was different, maybe it was portion size, I don’t remember being hungry (unless It was my own making, if I didn’t eat my dinner I went to bed hungry and on occasion made to eat it the next day) meal planning followed a similar pattern each week, roast dinner on Sundays  followed by cold with mash, reheated hash on Tuesday, sausages or chops or liver Wednesday and Thursday and Friday was fish day, Saturday it was not unusual to have a fry up, including egg bacon, kidneys, tomatoes. I don’t think mum was the most creative cook but I do think she kept us well fed on a tight budget.

We didn’t eat between meals, if we were hungry we would have to wait- no discussion, even as a baby the view of the day was to feed every 4 hours regardless of how much they screamed, and by all account, I screamed a lot. so maybe we were more disciplined because the food was not drip fed so when we sat down to eat we were hungry and eat until we were full. I also remember mum walking to buy food on an almost daily basis. we had a small fridge that had an ice box at the top, freezers were not common and even in her later life she  thought that freezers were only good for keeping ice cream, bread and peas in. We lived about a 15 minute walk from the butchers and local shop and mum was well known there. we didn’t have a car until I was a teenager so we walked everywhere, into town 25 mins, to school 20 mins as I got older I cycled and of course being in the outskirts of London buses were cheap and consistent.

Assuming my experience is not that unusual, what do we learn from this. I was not an over weight child despite the fat overload in my diet, so I must have needed those calories to walk everywhere, I didn’t snack between meals. Mum was not bombarded with tv and newpaper articles telling her that she should improve the dinning experience of her family and generally undermining her ability as a mum. Oh and she also didn’t go to work, so she was able to cook meals that sometimes took hours for her family.

At this point you start to realise how society has changed the way we eat, time is a very precious thing,  we want to have food that is quick we want some food that we believe is nutritious and doing us good but we want it without the hassle , we want it given to us on a plate-literally- but we have stopped giving any thought about the  thing that is our fuel, without  it everything else around us goes to pot. If we stop paying attention to what goes into our bodies how can we expect to rely on our bodies to carry us through our lives.So no, I don’t think all diets are the same, they share many key points but  they are not equal and the responsibility of taking charge of or health lies with each of us.



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