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114 HEALTH & BEAUTY Stop the Insanity Health & beauty advice from Rowena Kitchen


am the person that checks out your shopping if you are ahead of me at the check out. For many reasons: firstly, I am curious and like to learn about new things. Secondly, I like to match people to their choices. You know, who is buying a bunch of celery and a can of green lentils and who has chosen six loaves of white bread? It is fascinating and free enter- tainment. I was behind a woman in her seventies, dressed well, make up and hair done, clearly a woman who cared about herself. She was busy unloading ice cream, jelly, chocolate, cake and so on in vast quantities. Her final item was two packs of Weight Watchers yoghurts. I simply couldn’t help myself and said that there was no way the yoghurts were going to cancel out the rocky road and Mars bars. We both laughed and connected as you do while waiting in a queue. Well, as women do. What came next broke my heart. Her husband had lip cancer and was in agony after having a very invasive operation and all those foods cooled his mouth and made him happy. She had Par- kinson’s and was finding it hard to look after him. Yet she was STILL dieting. I wanted to throw the yoghurts out the win- dow and get her to eat the cake. Where was her enjoyment? The stranglehold that body image has over us has reached tragic proportions. When Kate Moss said nothing tastes as good as skinny feels like she incited millions of young girls to copy


I


her. What an idiot. She may think that and that’s her opinion but she has a responsibility to her fans. Mary Berry says she only eats one piece


of toast although she longs for another one! What is going on? Are we all doomed to struggle to stay thin right up to the time we are popped in our coffins. ‘We are all thin in the graveyard’ - to quote an Irish friend of mine who didn’t give a stuff about her weight, ate what she wanted and was trim because she stopped when she had had enough. We do not know what is enough these days as we, in the Western world, have more food


You can make a tiny effort with herbs grown in pots on the window sills


than we know what to do with, while others starve and eat it simply because it’s there. Our grandparents did not have cupboards bulging with multi packs of crisps and freezers chock full of ice cream and pizza. Basket shoppers was the term for the way they shopped. The potatoes at the green grocer were tipped straight in the basket and the meat wrapped in paper and string balanced on top. They shopped daily or weekly with a list of meals and did not vary from it. This made great economical sense but today many of us cook three dif- ferent suppers to keep all members of the family hap- py. Most families had a vegetable patch of some kind and they salted, pickled and preserved foods for later in the year. Not in the current artisanal shouty way with expensive jars and pretty ribbons that negate the saving. We are literally playing with our food. The cheapest foods are carbs. The most expensive protein. So what choice does the shopper make when working to a budget and trying to stretch their money. We are told by the government to eat five portions of fruits and vegetables a day (Stop the presses! since starting to write this the number has gone up


to seven) and I am glad to see my local supermarket has set up a stall at the entrance giving free fruit to children. The question of how to get the right vitamins and


minerals into our diets without breaking the bank is not as difficult as it looks if you are armed with just a little food knowledge. Not that our children are get- ting that in schools anymore as home economics bit the dust many years ago - along with sewing but don’t get me started because I WILL get on my soap box and give you an earful. A quick sprint round the internet will tell you which


Illustration by Lisa Wyman


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