Belfast Telegraph

Why trying to go on a diet is never really a piece of cake

By Nuala McKeever

Some people make New Year’s resolutions, I make lists. Every new year I determine to keep track of everything I spend and everything I eat and drink.

These lists usually end up with one entry — on the day I decide that “something needs to be done here”. I take a blank page in my notebook — a book that really only seems to contain lists that get started but go nowhere — and in a triumph of hope over experience, I set forth the latest plan of action.

I’ve tried setting the page out long ways, sideways and randomly. I’ve tried listing the days of the week and putting slots in for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. But there’s so much off-piste snacking going on that three slots just doesn’t cut it.

If I just list everything as I eat and drink it, the messiness of the entries offends me aesthetically, so that doesn’t work well either.

In the end, the impetus to “do something about this” wears off pretty soon after I start to “do something about this”.

But this time. this time.. I’m serious. I mean it! I’m really going to keep track of what I eat and drink and spend AND — this is an exciting new category — I’m going to write down how much food I throw away!

(Yes, I know I need to get out more. I’m doing all this to save money so I can afford to go out at all, never mind more!)

I’ve just been stunned to read this week about how much food we throw away.

The charity Fareshare, which takes left over supermarket food and gives it to human beings who need it, has just revealed it has saved 23.5 tonnes of food from going to landfill.

Now, we could have a really good rant here about why supermarkets are throwing out this food in the first place. I mean, if it’s fit for “poor” people to eat, why isn’t it fit for everyone to eat? And if it’s not fit to be sold because it’s past its date, why is it being given to anybody? Don’t they fear poisoning the poor as much as the middle class?

But on a personal individual level, there’s something to be done too. The latest stats I could find online show that in 2007, we in NI threw away 184 thousand tonnes of food! The biggest throwaway is salad, with bread and apples close behind.

Funny, the amount of chocolate, cake, biscuits and sweeties thrown away is a lot lower than the “healthy” stuff. Hmmm

I kid myself, when I tip fruit and veg that has gone off into the wee kitchen caddy for composting, that at least it’s being put to some use. But that doesn’t really justify buying it and not eating it in the first place. I could blame the fact that buying food for one person is difficult since it’s hard to eat your way through a whole tub of hummus on your own when you know you’ll have to admit to that on your “Every Single Thing I’ve Eaten Today” list.

Perhaps the bottom line is something really old fashioned like, “just buy less food” or “just show a bit of restraint” or “try jumping up and down on the spot and if there’s bits wobbling around your waistband, then put that food back on the shelf and move on”.

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