Jayne Dawson: All these food warnings are becoming hard to swallow

STEAK CLAIMS: A new study suggests that too much protein could be bad for middle-aged people.
STEAK CLAIMS: A new study suggests that too much protein could be bad for middle-aged people.
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Oh dear God what next? Is there any diet, any foodstuff that does not have the potential to kill us?

Currently it is protein. You know, that stuff that has been an Entirely Good Thing since Raquel Welch sashayed the earth in a prehistoric bikini in One Million Years B.C.

Some time after that came Dr Atkins, encouraging us to find our inner Henry VIII and gnaw on a leg of something for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Women have been doing their darndest to live off pure protein ever since,ignoring the headaches and chewing a few rationed pieces of gum to mask the bad breath.

It wasn’t just the desire to lose weight, though nothing shifts the pounds like protein and nothing but protein.

We believed it had other benefits. Protein builds us and sustains us, we were told. Wussy people who live on carbohydrates are all soft and flabby, we were told, but people built of protein are solid and fit and muscled.

We got the picture: carb eaters were the texture of a sliced white loaf, they were spongy and pale and bland.

Protein people, on the other hand, were solid as a lamb shank, fit as a butcher’s dog. Taut and very probably tanned. Good enough to eat, in fact. No wonder we all refused the bread and ordered the steak - on a good day anyway.

Until now. Now it turns out, we could have just been on the coffee and fags diet all along - because following a high protein diet, particularly when you are middle-aged, could be as bad as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. In other words you could be forgiven for believing it’ll kill you as soon as look at you.

What would the comparison have been in the days before cigarettes, I can’t help but wonder? How could a real caveman have been warned of the dangers of his diet? It’s as bad for you as squaring up to a really annoyed bison, perhaps?

Anyway, we are where we are - confused. But as protein’s star has waned, another food group is on the up. Unlikely as it once would have sounded, it seems like the only safe thing to eat now is lumps of pure fat.

For years I deprived myself of butter, eating nasty alternatives made of water and spreadable chemicals, only to now be told that Fat is Good, fat is where it’s at, diet-wise

A bit like a repentant politician fresh out of prison, fat has been rehabilitated.

I find it annoying. All that time I spent weening myself off fatty chocolate and onto boiled sweets - all for nothing.

Oh no, now I’ve done it. I’ve gone and said the S-word. Hush my horrid mouth. But it’s really not easy is it? There is only one thing worse than a high protein diet these days and that’s a high sugar one. What happened? What did I miss? Well some research apparently, work that said our sugar-loaded diet could be the death of us. That everything from diabetes to heart disease becomes more likely when you chomp on sugar, day in, day out.

But wait, I have an idea. It’s radical, but I’m just going to get it out there: let’s just - deep breath - eat sensibly.

I know - mad. But think about it. If we start ignoring all the miracle-fix diets, all the shortcuts, maybe we will be live out our allotted lifespan without too much trouble.

Let’s not try juicing our way to health because nature didn’t intend us to zap our systems with the juice of six oranges, three apples and a cucumber all at once; let’s not detox because our bodies tend to let us know if we have in fact been poisoned, and let’s not fast two days a week because that just leaves us pointlessly hungry.

Let’s just eat a little bit of everything and stop being amazed that huge amounts of anything ruin our complex human systems - and let’s draw a veil over the fact I have eaten a full bag of chocolate-covered popcorn while writing this - no protein though.


Caroline Verdon: Nothing quenches your soul like the taste of a great cuppa