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Food … and how to eat it

Twentieth-century nutritionist Adelle Davis told us to “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”

This helped to create a widely-accepted view that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Earlier, 19th-century English writer and playwright H S Leigh might have contributed to the start of the “breakfast is important” movement with his quite memorable quip, “If you wish to grow thinner, diminish your dinner.”

But there is plenty of modern research which suggests otherwise, or at least that this is not necessarily the case. This is good news to me because I operate on quite a different approach. I tend to eat like a pauper at breakfast [preferably around 11am], like a pauper at lunch and like a king at dinner. [Just in case you are interested, I can tell you that one of King Charles’ favourite dinners is wild mushroom risotto which he likes to partner with a rack of lamb.]

King Charles and I differ, however, on the matter of sweets. He does not generally eat sweets and – royal prerogative, I suppose – doesn’t even eat chocolate. Another difference that’s a biggie is the matter of coffee. Sorry, but how else could I kick-start my day? Certainly not by following the royal example of sipping tea.

Anyway, I like my nutrition advice to be simpler – and even witty. Miss Piggy is more my cup of tea: “Never eat more than you can lift” is one gem. ”Being fat is nature’s way of saying, ’You’re so good, I think I’ll make more of you,” is another.

On the matter of eating artichokes, she said, “After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps.”

In the 1960s in a university flat, we tried religiously to honour the nutrition advice of Adelle Davis. We may not have been able to afford a bookshelf, but we had Davis’ “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit”, which we

probably kept on the floor. Trouble was, we found that the positive effects of A were negated by too much B and the positive effects of C only occurred if you had D as well. I think E only worked in conjunction with X, Y and Z and you possibly had to be facing east or standing on one leg during consumption.

To make sense of all this, we drew up a huge chart which linked all the positives and negatives. For example, A was linked to B by a red line warning that too much B would negate the positive effects

of A. Another colour-coded line linked E with X, Y and Z. What we ended up with was an enormous, unmanageable chart that looked like the London Underground map with excessive tagging. I think we threw it away and went out for a burger.

But at least we had tried.

I think the best approach is simply to follow your gut [sorry!] and try to be sensible. That’s very general, I know, but I think it’s the way to go.

Ultimately, for example, the choice to consume breakfast is individual. There are both positives and negatives associated with either eating or skipping the meal, and both can be supported by scientific research. Whatever you do, don’t try to map it all on a chart.

I also think that, for further guidance, I’ll wait for Miss Piggy’s next oeuvre. She did make a promise: “I plan to write more books whenever I can find the appropriate writing attire and colour-coordinated pen.”

Meanwhile, bon appétit.

    Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.

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