By Guy Brandon, 5th January 2016
‘Tis the season when people typically start paying attention to their waistlines after a month of Christmas excess, along with all the attendant choices this involves. To low-carb, no carb or low-GI? To reduce fat, sugar or both? To cut portion size but otherwise eat normally, or to skip breakfast and eliminate empty calories? To join a gym or just make sure you do your 10,000 steps a day?
To support our choices, the ballooning weight-loss industry provides more information and options than we could possibly take in, just as the vast and powerful food industry produces ever more ‘healthy’ variations for us to try. We are fed a diet of half-truths and misinformation, and the official advice has changed more times than you’ve had hot dinners anyway.
Take the low fat debate, the subject of this recent article by the BBC. The food industry is just that – an industry, dedicated to making money rather than to promoting healthy eating. As the author writes, ‘The problem is low-fat can mean vegetables or just clever marketing for “we took out all the fat and then pumped it full of sugar”.’ Even experts, such as one nutrition professor at Oxford University, profess their frustration with this issue. ‘When there’s a huge wall of yoghurt, even I find it paralysing,’ comments Susan Jebb. ‘Lots of [low-fat] yoghurts are rammed with sugar, that is the thing that annoys me about yoghurt.’
Through a combination of self-discipline, self-loathing and rarely-used gym memberships, we’ll be back in shape just in time for Christmas next year. The picture is not unlike our finances, as it happens; Britons borrowed an extra £1.5 billion in the run-up to Christmas, the largest rise for eight years, and many consumers will take most of the next year to pay it back. Just as our waistlines are our own responsibility but choices heavily influenced by the food industry, our finances are subject to the influence of advertisers and credit-card companies.
Neither food nor finance are straightforward issues – and given the already complex nature of the subject, applying biblical principles to our eating habits can be even more overwhelming.
A forthcoming TBA… guide will offer a biblically-based approach to food and health. In the meantime, you might like to look at our Engage article from this time last year, titled Weighing in on obesity.