I HAVE never paid attention to celebrity diets. Or any diet, for that matter. In fact, I am pleased to say that I am 34 years of age and have never dieted in my life. That dreadful two-day hangover in 2009, when all that passed my lips was fat Coke and rude words, doesn’t count.
The Cabbage Soup, the Atkins, the Raw Food, the Manhattan and the Cosmopolitan (OK, this is a cocktail – just testing); all of these have happily passed your soft-bellied correspondent by while I reached for another sausage. My reason for this can be condensed into the following, which I might use as my epitaph: LIFE IS TOO SHORT AND FOOD IS TOO GOOD. Dieting, I believe, is for people who will do anything to avoid exercise.
But once in a full-fat moon, a diet comes along that is so downright silly I must speak out. And so I give you the Gwyneth Paltrow no-carb diet. Yes, the woman who named her child after a piece of fruit and once said, “I feel everything double ... and I’m also Libra so I don’t like confrontation or anger or anything,” gives us the secret to healthy living in a book called It’s All Good.
Anyway, I won’t go into the details. (Spoiler alert: turns out it’s not all good at all.) Instead, for your ease, I have paraphrased the book into three simple steps. 1. Remove any foods from your life that give you good cheer, comfort, energy and make your home smell like happiness. 2. Similarly, do not permit your children to eat these foods, even if they are not named after a piece of fruit. 3. Go forth in to the world with your rumbling, melancholic washboard stomachs and enjoy.
Now anyone who has tasted a good macaroni cheese – the kind that comes in an enamel dish, is smothered in molten grilled cheese and smells of warm milk, mustard and better days – will see that this is just more cruel anti-carb propaganda. These are the same people, I guarantee, who want us to work a six-day week, turn all green spaces in cities into car parks and wear six-inch heels to the supermarket. We must resist. We must keep calm and carry on eating macaroni cheese.
What did carbs ever do to us? A potato was once an innocent vegetable. That most versatile of roots, to be baked, boiled, mashed and roasted on Sundays. We would never have got through the war without it. Now the only non-threatening potato is the sweet variety, because apparently it’s slow-release. The rest of them are dangerous. They make you – whisper it – bloated.
Which brings me to rice, now considered another no-no carb. Millions of people healthier than us live on rice. Ma and Pa Ramaswamy, for example. Like any good South Indians, rice features on their table at least three times a day. A meal isn’t a meal if the pressure cooker hasn’t hissed out a vessel of steaming white rice. The first solid food to pass my lips was rice mixed with ghee.
It’s no secret that eating vast amounts of carbs is the digestive equivalent of swallowing stones. I know this from bitter experience (and a truly unforgettable macaroni cheese). But as long as you burn off the energy, you will probably be OK. And that’s the best guarantee anyone can give. However, if want something more concrete, a bowl of rice, pasta or mashed potato will make you very happy indeed.