For many of us, as we head into the new year, this is a time for resolutions. One of the most common involves “doing something” about our diet.
I’m not a fan of diets, not least because so much of the diet industry is owned by the same food industry that makes us fat in the first place (for example, Slimfast is owned by Unilever, Lean Cuisine is owned by Nestle and Weightwatchers is part-owned by Heinz).
However, there is one dietary regime that makes a lot of sense to me. This is the so-called 5:2 diet, where on two days per week you eat significantly less calories than the other five days. Very simply, the logic underpinning the diet is that on those two “lean” days you start to use up your body’s fat reserves to make up for the lack of calories being eaten.
The fact is that our bodies have not had time to adapt to the rapid changes in our diet. We are pretty much genetically identical to our palaeolithic ancestors, with the same basic digestive system, but our diet is drastically different. 80% of the food now found on supermarket shelves didn’t exist 100 years ago, and back then conditions like diabetes were relatively rare.
Those hunter-gatherer ancestors of ours would have relied upon hunting and foraging for their food in a world where the availability of food would have been dictated by seasonal shortages and abundances. As in the 5:2 diet, on lean days they would simply have gone hungry, whilst on other days they could feast.
It isn’t simply our digestive system that hasn’t adapted to the modern diet: our brains haven’t either. We still eat as if tomorrow might be one of those “lean” days. Except, of course, that for most of us it never is. The result is that we eat too much, and amongst the consequences of our overindulgence are weight gain, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and a host of other chronic conditions.
Everything around us seems designed to help stave off the spectre of those ancestral lean days. Part of the allure of the supermarket is the availability of so much food all in one place. Travelling up and down the aisles picking products from high and low shelves, we are like ghostly echoes of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
For me, any dietary regime which causes us to think about and appreciate our food, and which is in tune with the natural and historical rhythms of the human body must have something going for it. I’m not planning to follow a new dietary regime in the new year, but if I was, this would be the one.
Finally, I would like to thank you for reading and following this blog, and I wish you a happy new year!
This week’s recipe is quick, light and delicious, and is my go-to healthy snack. It very easy, taking just a few minutes to put together but, wow, does it taste good!
I’ve left out the quantities from the recipe because they are so easy to put together and you can be the judge of how many you want to make (unless, of course, you’re on a “lean” day).
celery with peanut butter and smoked paprika
organic peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1. Break the celery into sticks. Wash and then use a vegetable peeler on the ridged outer surface, gently paring it down until smooth (this removes the irritating stringy parts). Cut the sticks into 3-4 cm lengths.
2. Use a knife to fill the groove of the celery pieces with peanut butter. Sprinkle a pinch of paprika over each one. And that’s it!