Why I think January diets are rubbish

Crash diets after Christmas aren't sensible. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Crash diets after Christmas aren't sensible. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ditching processed food, committing to cooking from scratch, and moving more are the key to staying trim, says Charlotte Smith-Jarvis.

I read a shocking statistic recently. The average woman can spend up to £25,000 during her lifetime on weight loss.

I don’t know about you, but to me that money equals several amazing holidays, a heck of a lot of pairs of shoes or (less excitingly) a decent chunk sliced off the mortgage.

In an industry worth over £2 billion, money isn’t the only cost when it comes to slimming though. There’s a huge emotional cost too. I watched a vlog just the other day where the commentator asked women whether they would say the mean mantras they tell themselves to their friends. It was a resounding “no way”. We’d never walk into a mate’s house, look at their ‘well used’ kitchen and call them a lazy slob for not cleaning up. And it’s unthinkable (unless you have that kind of relationship) that you’d ring up your bestie and tell them you think they’re looking a bit chunky and could do with shedding a few.

But we all (women and men) are guilty of chiding ourselves.

As I write this from my home office, I can see a crate of treats left over from Christmas. We’re talking fudge, Scottish shortbread, turkey and cranberry flavoured crisps – even prosecco jellies. And I can’t help feeling a pang of guilt, just for giving them a sideways glance.

Modern day thinking has it that come the new year we should throw out all the junk and seal our lips to anything containing a modicum of fat.

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Denial is unrealistic though. And to label foods as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ insinuates we should feel guilty about eating any of the latter. As a working mum, I could do without anymore guilt in my life thankyou very much. The lack of time to do homework. Forgetting to pay for a school trip on time. Being too busy to help with reading every night. These are the realities of parenthood, and to have to think about weighing out cabbage, or making superfood smoothies every morning, is putting pressure on people who already feel the heavy thumb of life weighing down on them.

The only ones who can possibly afford the time and energy to devote their lives fully to their bodily temples are the hipster Millennials, who seem to spend more time (sadly) photographing their lettuce leaf, clean, carb-free lunches and jumping around doing HIIT, than actually enjoying food. What a waste!

As someone who a few years back lost three stone without paying a hefty fee for a weight loss club or gym membership I can tell you there isn’t a magic one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a case of simple maths – eat a bit less, move a bit more.

A lot of our collective weight gain issues come down our love of convenience food. I hate to admit it, but in my late teens/early 20s, I lived off supermarket ready meals. I didn’t think twice about filling my freezer with them. And the weight piled on. It wasn’t until I took myself back into the kitchen and started cooking from scratch again that the pounds fell off.

I didn’t meticulously count every piece of food, or weigh every morsel on my plate. I was simply sensible. Eating three meals of ‘real’ food and one ‘treat’ each day really worked.

So instead of standing on the scales crying, hating yourself for eating a biscuit, and spending your cold hard cash on diet clubs, go fall back in love with cooking.

Buy seasonal, local ingredients and turn them into something amazing. Eat more fruit and veg. Try and do a bit of exercise every day. And for heaven’s sake, remember a little bit of what you fancy is good for the soul!

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