Health

Stuff calorie counts. The Government should get its grubby mitts off our dinner

A few weeks ago, the Government wanted to help save restaurants. Now it wants to help ruin them instead. Or so we must assume, now that it’s forcing them to warn us about the number of calories contained in every dish on the menu.

The aim is to guilt-trip us into eating less. But, as well as spoiling a good night out, this kind of pursed-lipped puritanism won’t help us lose weight. After all, a meal in a restaurant is just an occasional treat. We have the vast majority of our meals at home. So if we’re overweight, it’s because of what we eat when we’re in, not because of what we eat when we’re out.

It’s absurd. Personally, if I want help losing weight, I’ll go to a health farm, not a restaurant.

Then again, the way things are going, it’ll soon be hard to tell the difference.

“Good evening, sir. Would you care to order some drinks?”

“I’ll have a glass of chablis, please.”

“Chablis, sir?”

“Yes.”

“As in wine, sir?”

“Yes.”

“As in alcohol, sir?”

“Yes, that’s the stuff.”

“I see, sir. Sir, are you fully aware of the health risks associated with drinking alcohol?”

“Well, yes, obviously, but…”

“Drinking alcohol to excess, sir, can cause not only weight gain but high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, stroke, brain damage, dementia and cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus and colon. Did you know that, sir?”

“Look, I’m only ordering a single glass of…”

“Not to mention gout, heart disease, liver disease, mental health problems and erectile dysfunction. That’s right, sir, erectile dysfunction. Did you know that, sir? Madam?”

“All right, all right. I’ll stick to soft drinks. Just a glass of coke, please.”

Coke, sir? If you don’t mind my asking, sir – exactly how much do you know about type two diabetes?”

“Oh, for pity’s sake. Just bring us a jug of tap water.”

“A splendid choice, sir. The tap water is excellent today.”

“I can’t wait. While you’re here, could we order our food as well?”

“Food, sir?”

“Yes. Food. We were rather hoping to have some dinner.”

“I see, sir. Are you aware, sir, of just how much butter goes into the average restaurant dish? Or indeed how much salt? Quite frankly, sir, you wouldn’t believe it. And as for the amount of sugar in the puddings! Have you any idea, sir, what eating here will do to your heart, your kidneys, your arteries, your…”

“This is ridiculous. Come on, darling. We’re leaving. Let’s have dinner at home.”

“An excellent choice, sir. May I recommend the forgotten stick of celery at the bottom of your fridge?”

Full of it

A simpler way to lose weight, or so I’ve read, is to eat more slowly. Chew each mouthful for longer. Apparently, you’ll end up eating less, because you’ll soon feel full.

Then again, there’s more than one way to define “full”. As I know from my six-year-old son.

“You haven’t eaten all your vegetables,” I’ll say. “Come on. Eat up.”

“I can’t,” he’ll say. “I’m full.”

Then, around 10 seconds later: “Dada, what else can I eat?”

“Hang on. You just said you were full.”

“I said I was full of vegetables. I’m not full of pudding.”

Crystal clear

Exclusive to this column: Matt Hancock’s list of clear, simple and easy-to-follow local lockdown rules for the coming week.

1. Residents of Gateshead will be permitted to meet up with friends inside a laundrette, sauna or hot-air balloon, but not a squash club, fishmonger’s or municipal bandstand.

2. Anyone in Somerset wishing to visit a petting zoo will need a permission slip signed by two witnesses, unless it’s a Thursday or their surname begins with N.

3. Families in Great Yarmouth will be permitted to meet their grandmothers for a game of Jenga, but not Buckaroo. Guidance on Boggle will be announced via Snapchat at midnight.

4. Residents of Melton Mowbray will be allowed outdoors to walk their dogs, but only in a counter-clockwise direction.

5. Bowling alleys will be permitted to reopen throughout Northamptonshire, but only on Wednesdays between the hours of 2.00 and 5.00am. All players are required by law to wear swimming goggles, a miner’s helmet and a pair of brand-new gardening gloves (latex not cotton).

Pop is dead

The last ever issue of Q magazine came out this week. It’s a shame. Personally, though, I don’t think it was killed by Covid.

I think it was killed by music.

The truth is, pop just doesn’t matter in the way it used to. These days we can listen to any song ever recorded, any time we like, free of charge. As a result, we pay it far less attention. When I was young, and the only way to get hold of a particular song was to take a 40-minute bus ride into town to spend £15 on the album it came from, you made sure you got your money’s worth out of it. You listened to that album intently. Obsessively. Poring over the lyric sheets.

Especially if you’d only bought it on the recommendation of a magazine like Q. On first listen, a timid little voice in your head would whisper, “This isn’t actually very good. In fact, it’s quite boring.” But then a louder voice would bark, “No! You had to do an eight-hour shift washing dishes to pay for this CD! You’re going to listen to it again and again and again until you jolly well like it!”

Music seems a lot less important, now that we don’t have to earn it.

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