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Digital Subscriptions > Delicious Magazine > June 2018 > Why summer diets are a flawed notion

Why summer diets are a flawed notion

Planning your summer holiday? Do yourself a favour and give the time-honoured beach-body diet a miss this year, says chef, food blogger and author Anthony Warner, aka The Angry Chef

At this time of year, a powerful industry springs into life, using time-honoured techniques to make us feel ugly, inadequate and ashamed. Look in the mirror, it says. You’ve become too fat to enjoy the summer. If you don’t buy into our false hope, then you’ll never wear a swimming costume, never enjoy the beach, never really be loved. It’s hardly surprising that as the weather warms up, instead of embracing the good times, many of us embark upon a diet.

This is a great shame because, when it comes to food, we’d perhaps all benefit from doing more of certain things – eating more vegetables, more oily fish, a bit more fibre – rather than the judgemental avoidance diets that have long been a part of the run-up to summer. I’m frequently criticised for this view. I’m told there’s an obesity epidemic and that in saying people should eat what they want I’m exacerbating, perhaps even causing, a huge health crisis.

I have even said sugar isn’t evil and that eating at a certain fast food chain now and again won’t kill you, which is apparently tantamount to boiling kittens alive.

ILLUSTRATION: ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES

The vast majority of people who start on a diet will fail… The diet industry knows this all too well”

But research consistently shows that the vast majority of people who start on a diet will fail, ending up the same weight or heavier in the long term.

The diet industry knows this all too well, because its future profitability depends on these cycles of hope and disappointment. They know we will be feeling just as fat and inadequate next year. And remarkably, instead of blaming the flawed products on sale, we have been persuaded to blame ourselves.

Our weight is one of the most strongly genetically determined characteristics ever studied. It is almost as heritable as height, and far more so than many things we accept as beyond our control, such as the risk of developing hypertension, breast cancer or schizophrenia. Most of us live with a predetermined set-point weight, and although we might be able to shift this a few kilograms, our size is really just part of who we are. But a persuasive industry depends upon us believing that we can morph our bodies into whatever shape is currently deemed as ideal.

It’s time we put an end to this because it’s destroying our health and society. The endless cycles of weight loss and regain that the industry depends upon are well known to contribute to many metabolic diseases. Rates of eating disorders, body dysmorphia and mental illness rise every year.

A multi-billion-pound industry depends on us hating how we look and refusing to accept the glorious variety of size and shape within any human population. Diets claim they will make you healthier, but any industry that demands you feel ashamed about your body does not care about your health. If it did, it would be concerned for your mental health too.

And it would admit that the products it sells are designed to let you down.

Healthy eating should be about getting more good things into your diet, coming together with friends and family, and letting food become a source of joy in your life. If you really want to feel good this summer, perhaps you should just try to eat well.

Anthony’s book, The Angry Chef: Bad Science And The Truth About Healthy Eating (Oneworld Publications), is out now

Do you agree with Anthony or do you take a different view? Tell us at info@deliciousmagazine.co.uk and we’ll print the best replies

ITALIAN WITH A TWIST

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About Delicious Magazine

We’re celebrating summer in our June issue with cocktail cheesecakes – hic, hic, hooray, fish dishes and delights from the Med, not to mention the FREE 16-page Italian special. Elsewhere Ben Tish roasts pork with peaches, Gill Meller grills a rack of mutton and Felicity Cloake embarks on a Famous Five-style feast. Followers of foodie fashion will love the Caravan cornbread brunch, Berber & Q sharing feast and the latest hot cake from Dominique Ansel’s bakery. Plus we have two sweet and succulent strawberry and meringue desserts.

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