I’ve eaten a whole head of celery, four large carrots and half a dozen apples in the last two days. Never let it be said that this January diet isn’t hard Granny Smith core.
Actually it’s not a diet at all. In fact, I’m the only person I know who’s not on a diet or a detox or a therapy involving extreme carbohydrate deprivation, fasting for a couple of days or slathering myself with cucumber goats-yoghurt-nutrishake and the acids of rotting blueberries.
I don’t see the point of having a great Christmas if you follow it up with a rubbish January.
With the celery, it was just a matter of picking up a stick, starting to chew and thinking “Mmm that tastes surprisingly refreshing and ok.”
I like celery’s style. I don’t care what they say about the science but it’s bound to be calorie-negative. It’s also satisfyingly crunchy and noisy enough to irritate people sitting near you. I could probably ensure no-one sits next to me on the train if I had a whole head of celery in my hand. As Nigella says “A head in the hand is worth two in the bush.” (verify Ed.)
Also, you don’t just swallow celery in the way that chocolate melts and slips down deliciously and effortlessly. Celery takes several munches per mouthful. It follows, I think that you expend more calories eating it then is actually contained in the air, water and green string that makes up your average celery stick.
It’s the same principle with Ryvita, a comestible which is virtually indistinguishable from cardboard with some salt and peppercorns trodden into it. It is only rendered edible by spreading it with a quarter of an inch of salted, English butter. Chewing to convert it to a swallowable state uses up the calories you will be consuming.
If only more foods were like that. The negative energy balance can only be a good thing – especially weighed against the ease and speed of consuming say, a jam doughnut or a jammy dodger – a misnomer if ever I heard one as a jammy dodger is the most passive of biscuits. It doesn’t so much dodge as give in without a whimper to the demands of tooth and tongue.
I spend a lot of time with satsumas. I peel them first, creating one continuous curl of fragrant peel but then it takes concentrated time to remove unwanted pith and daintily part the segments, eating one at a time but deconstructing each segment in precisely the same unhurried way to get to the juicy unspoiled fruity centre. If only I was expending more energy during that preparation time, a satsuma would be calorie-neutral too. So I experimented and my tests revealed unequivocally that preparing a satsuma while riding my turbo-trainer makes it a calorie-neutral fruit.
Although I did dribble satsuma juice on my top tube, I think it counted as a ‘win-win’ and convinced me that we really should be thinking of ways to make more food calorie-neutral in order to solve the obesity crisis.
One answer is to work harder for it, rather in the style of that 90’s TV series, the Crystal Maze (Who can forget Richard O’Brien and Mumsie? Oh you have already. Well you, then)…we should have to pick locks, climb over things, solve puzzles and all the time have a team of idiots shouting at the tops of their voices at the same time the problem solver can’t make out any of their helpful advice.
Ok, so that’s only workable in a TV studio so on a more practical level, let’s ditch the neat lazy world of supermarkets where everything is packaged. Convenience is the dirty work here. Convenience is making us fat.
We need to work harder for our food – trudge through fields to dig vegetables… climb ladders to pick fruit…go fish or chase runners to snatch their beans.
You think that’s too physical?
Ok then, maybe just package everything in corned beef tins! I usually find they are the height of inconvenience.
By the time you’ve dropped the little key, retrieved it again from under the washing machine, pierced the top of the tin, wound the little metal strip around the key, cut your finger badly on the sharp edge of the metal… washed the blood streaming from your finger and put a plaster on the cut… started winding the thin metal strip again but this time it shears off completely….and when you try the tin opener, it doesn’t do the trick because it doesn’t like the 90 degree corners and finally you need to go and borrow a circular saw from a neighbour to remove the one end……..
Just stop and think for a moment – yes, you’ve just endured a long, risky, annoying, injurious process which has raised your blood pressure and was only minimally rewarding BUT you probably used up at least half the calories of the food inside.