“Johnson rushes to put UK junk food advertising on a diet.”

So says the Financial Times. It’s hardly a rush. BJ has been promising to do this for months. The plan could include a ban on the advertising of unhealthy foods before 9pm. Though, in my opinion, there’s something to be said for banning them altogether! But that’s never going to happen.

Some might say it smacks of a “nanny state”but it’s a bid to tackle the high levels of obesity in this country.

The soft drinks levy (the so called “sugar tax”) was introduced in April 2018 with the aim to help combat childhood obesity and related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. It applied to drinks containing more than 5g of sugar per 100ml. At the time the pundits thought that all the brands would all be up in arms. But what did they do?  In order to avoid having to pay the tax, they actually reduced the sugar content in their food and drinks! Sales – if anything – have benefited as have all those children and adults who were addicted to sugary drinks.

What is really needed of course is education. We could start with a return to teaching home economics in schools.  If children, right from primary age, learned about foods and how to cook them they might turn into the kind of adults who could cook a meal from scratch rather than turning to the nearest fast food take-away and ready meals for their family’s needs.  It does tend to be the poorer families who eat less healthily. This is tragic because – aside from the benefits of eating healthier food –  much of the unhealthy food costs a good deal more than the healthier options.

Proposed new rules are also thought to include the introduction of compulsory calorie counts on restaurant and takeaway menus. I’ve seen this done in the USA and think it a good idea. Having said that, I’m not sure how much notice the Americans take – look how much obesity they have there!

Way back in April I wrote about how OH (other half) and I had changed our eating habits overnight.  It all began just over ten years ago when OH (other half) was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Before they could do the surgery, he was told he had to drastically lose weight.

The way to do it, he was told, was to have his main meal at lunchtime and something light – such as soup – in the evening. Like most people, we were used to having meals the other way round. But we thought we’d give it a try.

I had been making my own soup for years. It’s tasty, nutritious – almost a meal in its own right. So we started having soup in the evenings. And still often do. I make my own from scratch. It takes about half an hour. Not that much longer than it would take opening up a can or packet and heating up its contents. And of course a pan of home made soup goes a lot further and is a good deal healthier than tinned. What’s more, when you make your own food, you know what has gone into it!

OH was also told to exercise more. Not go to the gym or do anything he’d never done before. Simply to walk more.  And not at a gentle amble. But to walk briskly. On our way home that afternoon we also took a detour to John Lewis where OH bought some running (aka walking) shoes. And he started walking from the station in the evening rather than having his normal chauffeur driven service – me.

He began walking more every day. And at lunchtimes he would try to have the kind of meal he would previously have eaten in the evening. Not easy when you’re working full time but he managed this most days. Obviously there were times when we couldn’t stick to this regime such as when we were going out to eat with friends. Remember those days?

The weight immediately started dropping off him. It was amazing.

As for me, I had never dieted in my life.  But I felt it only fair to keep him company. So, whatever he ate, I ate. And what he didn’t eat, I didn’t eat. As a consequence, I also started losing weight.

I started out a size 16. Within three months (yes, three months!) I was a size 12.  OH (other half) lost three stone!  He looked amazing – slimmer than either of us remembered him ever being. We both had to buy new clothes because nothing in our wardrobes fitted us any more. This was actually very handy timing because about two months after the prostate surgery (which was successful I hasten to add) it was our daughter’s wedding.

The good news is that not only did OH lose weight (and get cured from the cancer) but he has kept the weight off.  My other half is now half the man he was. And we still enjoy a bowl of soup most evenings.




© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems



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