I remember when I first started dieting. This was the 80s when there was One-Cal and Diet Coke and that was about it. Diet meals were disgusting biscuit things like ‘Limmits’ and you could supplement those with a delicious ‘Slimma Soup’ if you were really determined. Ryvita, a short-lived dalliance with cottage cheese and tuna in brine made up the bulk of my first ever diets. No wonder I couldn’t stick to them. Yuck.
In the early 90s I turned to books like ‘The Junk Food Diet’ – Mmmm tasty – and I remember one called ‘Size 12 in 21 days’ which even in 1992 I thought might be a bit over-ambitious. They were still using real food though, even if there wasn’t much of it. Until someone decided that the way forward was to make diet versions of EVERYTHING.
Lean Cuisine wasn’t called ‘Mean Cuisine’ for no reason, those things couldn’t keep a sparrow going for long. They didn’t stop at diet meals – soon we had Shapers crisps and sandwiches, low fat and ‘lite’ biscuits, a watered-down version of just about any food you could imagine. By last year, Weight Watchers were even pushing diet PIES along with their ‘low fat but so high in sugar they could bring on diabetes’ desserts. The trouble is, all the fat was replaced with sugar, and because in a lot of cases the sugar content then went through the roof, they had to add a zillion additives and replace the sugar with chemicals in order to make them palatable. if indeed they were.
I gave up ‘lite’ foods a long time ago, even Diet Coke. And now it looks like I’m one of many as Mintel reported that the sales of diet foods have dropped from 21% to 19%. People are wising up to the fact that diet foods are usually fairly revolting versions of what you could lose weight on anyway if you just ate less of them. I have issues with Slimming World for this reason – so many of the recipes and eating plans are packed with Quark and sweeteners, Muller Lights and similar. I prefer to eat normal food and just not over-do it. Yeah, it’s the overdoing it that I’m working on but at least I’m not stuffing myself full of Aspartame!
(…and as I’ve been writing this I’ve just had another email from Rosemary Conley trying to seduce me into joining a class…there really is no end to the pressure at this time of year.)
The drop in people eating diet foods could potentially be down to money too – when they take away the fat and sugar they do tend to add extra pennies to the price. We’re all fed up with being ripped off and it seems that ditching fake foods, eating healthily and not eating so much is one way of saving money that could be spent on better things.
While 30 per cent of prople still say they would carry on eating diet foods to lose weight, twice as many decided that the lite revolution was over and they preferred to do a bit more exercise. Cutting down is also in favour – 55 per cent said they preferred to just make it simple by eating smaller portions. It’s a step in the right direction, definitely.
Are there any diet foods you actually like? I must admit I do love a Ryvita even though they aren’t strictly diet food. How about you?