The Health Nazis are at it again. Nanny State is about to tell us off for eating too much red meat. No more than 500 grams per week, children! About 1.1 lb per in proper money, which is about 3 or 4 rashers of bacon per day.
The stated aim is to ward off bowel and other cancers, which of course is a laudable aim.
But now that we can’t drink (you will be taxed) or smoke (you will taxed and arrested and tortured), it does seem that there’s not much fun to be had as we sit around, bored, waiting to die neglected, parched and starving in an NHS ward.
I wouldn’t mind so much if the science behind it was not either dubious or plain downright wrong.
For various reasons I put on weight last year. Then I had one of those moments when you have a look in the mirror and thought – I really don’t like looking like that. So I started trying to eat less and take more exercise. I started to look better, not surprisingly. Then someone gave me a copy of a little book called “Waist Disposal” by one Doctor John Briffa.
I don’t hold any personal brief for Dr Briffa by the way, but he seems to be a sensible chap. His is one of a number of eating plans which broadly recommend what can be called the “Cave Man” diet.
In simple terms, he points out that mankind has been around in its vaguely recognisable form for about between 70 – 40,000 years (although he obviously hasn’t been to Barnsley lately) and our bodies are perfectly adapted to be strong and well on the diet of what we have been for most of that time – hunter gatherers.
Note the clue. HUNTER gatherers.
He argues that we are not particularly well adapted to the produce of arable farming; wheat in all its forms, starchy vegetables, too much dairy and so forth. These only became at all commonplace some 3-4,000 years ago, and in evolutionary terms that is a nano second.
He also questions whether there is any reliable link between red meat consumption and cancer.
He does not recommend that you “diet.” Dieting just tells your body that there is a famine and causes it to react by trying to store energy whenever it can – by storing fat. Hence the syndrome of “yo yo dieting.” It all piles back on as soon as your body can get hold of some calories.
He recommends that you change what you eat. It is not just how many calories you eat, it is what type of food contains those calories. Out go wheat and starch based products like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. In come lots of fresh vegetables, fruit (in lesser amounts) and reasonable amounts of protein in the form of eggs, fresh red meat and fresh fish. As someone else with similar ideas said, if you are having a McDonalds it’s not the burger that will kill you – it’s the bun and the fries. But plenty of low “GI” veg to go alongside it because you need that too.
Hungry between meals? No problem. Eat some nuts. It’s what your ancestors did.
Consuming fat is not a problem but it must be natural fat. Your body needs it, but won’t store it unnecessarily if it’s receiving the right type of food. Consider the conundrum of the Inuit Eskimos.
“Diet-ists” will tell you that eating fat is a very, very naughty thing to do. But the Inuits, being human (I think) live very happily and healthily on a diet which consists largely of fat, namely blubber.
Because they are used to it and because the body does not store “healthy” fats. It stores what it needs and evacuates the rest. Unhealthy, unnatural fats screw it up and get stored. Give an Innuit a blubber sandwich (minus the bread) and he’ll be fine. But give him a pizza or a bucket of KFC and he’ll expand like a puffa fish and die of a heart attack in 10 minutes.
Or take Cyprus, which has a notably high life expectancy. The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables – and red meat and fish. Olive oil is an important and regular ingredient. Garnished with red wine and cigarettes too, I should add.
It’s not rocket science. You are a hunter gatherer. It’s just a hundred generations since your great great etc grandfather would eat as much a McMammoths in a sitting as he could fit in, because he needed to.
You are designed to eat lot of seeds, berries, vegetables meat and cigarettes!
OK, I made the last bit up to be naughty. Of course if you live solely on Chateaubriand and Marlboro’ Lights you may have problem, although I have done in the past and found it singularly uplifting, particularly in Paris in 1990. But regular and moderate amounts of FRESH red meat are fine. What you are not designed to eat is coco pops, crisps, processed sugar, white bread (the same thing), Coca Cola, pizzas, Alco-pops and processed food which should be banned under the Geneva conventions against chemical warfare.
Meanwhile, with the assistance of new gym, I am about 10 lbs lighter in a month and a lot fitter. As Doctor B explains, exercise, by the way, is very good for you in many ways; it makes you feel and look better and radically cuts down risk of disease, particularly diabetes and yes, the dreaded big C, but in calorific terms it’s a relatively inefficient way to lose weight in itself.
If I didn’t consume industrial quantities of red (full of sugar) I would have lost a lot more.
So once again the Health Nazis poke their nose in with a message of misery which is negative, ill informed and does not address the real issues.
The real issue, Nanny State, is the 6 year kid I saw wondering around a Yorkshire town last week having bag of crisps for breakfast (I predict she’ll be on Ritalin by teatime). It is the fact that you people no longer know how to source or cook fresh food. It is the Coca Cola Corporation and the purveyors of fast food and processed food, the supermarkets.
But you won’t take them on, will you? I rather think you like them.
Over to you, Lord Sainsbury.
Note: Biographical detail.
Randy Hack is a well known wit, raconteur and bon viveur. His books include “Let’s Get Trollied,” “Drink Yourself Sober” and the Sunday Times No 1. Best Seller “Retox Your Life with Randy Hack”.