You are what you eat 26



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The other day, for the first time in a long time, I went to a very posh eatery which required that I climb into a suit and tie – despite a swelteringly hot and humid day in Brisbane – and I made an amazing discovery.

For some of you it is possibly not that amazing but, having been retired from the drudgery of the daily grind for a couple of years and freed from the suit-and-tie uniform, I discovered that my suit had shrunk and, of course, I blamed the drycleaners. I also had some difficulty buttoning up the top shirt button but I artfully concealed that behind the knot of my tie while I cursed our latest soap powder which, like the dry cleaning, had caused fabric shrinkage.

We get a lot of silly advice around this time of year about what we should and shouldn’t eat. Fatuous rubbish like, “You are what you eat” which, presumably, means that trim, taut and terrific cannibals only eat skinny people.

I am, and always will be, of the school which believes firmly that food is an important part of any diet. In fact – and I have seen deplorably sad evidence of this in others – the first thing you lose on a diet is your sense of humour. Ditto those who are giving up smoking. There is no greater fanatic than a convert.

Undeniably, my body is a temple – always was and always will be except that which began as a little church is becoming a vast cathedral. But, as I cheerily and even cheerfully tell everybody, it just means that there is more of me to love. And that must be good, right?

The legendary Mae West, who celebrated her voluptuousness until the day she died, had the right attitude. “I never worry about diets,” she said, “The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.” Very possibly, Miss Piggy was inspired by Ms West when she said, “Never eat more than you can lift”.

There is no shortage of diets around and all of them more or less rely on inducing a feeling of self-loathing. The same goes for those absurd exercise programmes and everybody should know that, for example, the author of the 1977 runaway best seller, The Complete Book of Running, James Fixx died aged 52 while jogging while Michel Montignac, the author of Eat Yourself Slim was dead at 65. Nathan Pritikin, the so-called “Grandfather of modern diets”, was dead at 69. He was also a “longevity researcher” and committed suicide. I would have thought that Rule 1 of How To Live A Long Life is don’t commit suicide.

One diet which particularly appeals to me is the one followed by William the Conqueror who, worried about his increasing obesity, took to his bed and consumed nothing but alcohol. I’m sure it works if you don’t care what you look or feel like and it has the added bonus of losing not just weight but whole days and even weeks once you really get into the swing of it.

But the ultimate diet is the cardiologist’s diet – if it tastes good, spit it out.

Vegetarians and vegans are a particularly loathsome lot in my considered opinion. Their holier-than-thou attitude really gets up my nostrils when they preach from the alleged high moral ground about not killing animals for food.

I once had a spirited chinwag with a vegan lady who lectured me on the sheer immorality of killing any of God’s creatures and she only paused once in her diatribe to slap dead a mosquito which landed on her arm. I don’t think she understood why I walked away laughing.

Try reminding this lot that one of the most famous vegetarians – and he was also a teetotaller and rabid non-smoker – was Adolf Hitler. It seems the more committed he became to this lifestyle, the more insanely unbalanced he became. I eat meat, I drink and I smoke and not once have I felt even the slightest desire to invade Poland. Has to mean something, doesn’t it?

Before you get stampeded into a diet, reflect on what is the purpose. The American comedian Erma Bombeck once so rightly observed, “Just think about all of those women on the Titanic who said, ‘No thanks’ to dessert that night, and for what?”

Happy New (non-dieting) Year!


Are you going to be dieting in the new year? Why or why not? Do you like your body the way it is? Tell us below. 

Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. No, I’m living proof that one can survive eating what you like, and I have over 75 years experience to speak off.

  2. I am one of your loathesome lot who loves the vegetarian way of living, mainly for health reasons. But even we loathesome folk put on weight if we don’t watch our diet. I have cut out sugar from our diet and this has stopped those horrible little calories getting into our wardrobe and shrinking our clothes. In fact, I have slowly lost weight over the past few months.

    2 REPLY
    • Morvyth
      Vegetarians are not loathesome.
      I am not a vegetarian. However, I don’t try and push my way of life onto others.
      My pet peeve with a lot og vegetarians is the way they try and convince others that their way of life is the only way. I have been called every name from stupid to murderer because I eat meat.
      I just say, respect my choices and I will respect your choices.

    • There is nothing wrong with a vegetarian diet! We live in a democratic society where we can choose what we want to eat

  3. ‘A little of what you fancy…does you good’ Everything in moderation…Use it or lose it.,.doing these things keeps this 67 yr old fit & active, weight stays at a constant 64kilos…(except at Xmas!)…Come New Year, its double the distance walked daily with my dog..

  4. You are right, you are what you eat! What I could eat when I was younger, not gaining weight. Now gaining weight

  5. Great article, good for a chuckle.

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