Middleagemum.com: a word or two about diets

january non diet food

The distinctly NON diet food that we have been eating during January

I refuse to talk about spring clothes with five inches of snow on the ground so while we are having a momentary fashion pause, I’m going to have a quick middleagemum.com rant  about diets in January.

Ever since time began, January issues of magazines, Sunday supplements and pretty much every paper fill up with This Years Magic Diet stories, EVERY YEAR it’s the same, you can almost tell someone’s age by how many Januarys and therefore how many diets someone has been through.

What was the first ever diet you remember? Mine was the grapefuit diet learnt (as I remember) from Cosmopolitan which, in the pressure-cooker-image-neurotic-environment of a girls boarding school, we were all on when I was about 15. Not for very long as usually someone fainted in school assembly after a day or two on it and we were sternly warned off it by our headmistress. There was also the hot water and lemon diet, which did no one any good when it was discovered that we were drinking from the hot water tap and poisoning ourselves (rotting pigeons in the hot water tank) .

Cottage cheese played a big part of diets in the mid 70s and then there was the one involving Cabbage Soup, the Scarsdale diet, Atkins and countless other ones that were bigged-up as being The One for losing those extra pounds. This year we are all going to be magically transformed by the 5:2 diet, which involves eating normally for five days and then less than 500 cals a day for the remaining two days.

Take a look out of the window this January morning, chances are it’s either snowing or has been recently and it’s darn cold. Who in their right mind restricts calories when it’s this chilly? This weather demands chunky warming soups with cream, hot chocolate, sausages and mash, apple crumble and custard, fish pies, toast with marmite  and all things warming and hearty. This is NOT the time to diet, unless perhaps you are Australia or anywhere hot all year around, when I guess you are excused, but I bet even hot countries have diet months.

And why does every magazine have to run an obligatory diet story every January? It’s like there’s a rule that we have to all read at least one diet story in January so we can feel individually guilty for having eaten like pigs over the festive period.

Well here at The Women’s Room we doing the reverse of dieting in January, we are eating to stay cheerful and warm. Can we also remind you that if you a roughly between the age of 47 and 55 years, you are EXEMPT from dieting as your hormone-crazy menopausal body will work twice as hard to make you stay slightly plump-ish (we wrote about it here) so unless you want stick arms and legs and a barrel shaped middle, do not diet, eat healthily and stay fit, obvs, but don’t diet. Instead you have approximately eight years off the diet bandwagon to go have some fun.

Isn’t that a fantastic thing to know? Isn’t it great to be released from the tyranny of portion control for a few years? We’re not encouraging you to eat cake non-stop, but just go easy on yourself, come to terms with the extra curves and go and do something interesting. Apparently when the menopause is over, normal dieting works again and I have heard anecdotally that it become quite easy to loose extra pounds.

If you do want some general dieting advice, after years of observation we’d say, “eat less, move around more’. That seems to do it.



  • j ballard says:

    ohh the D word had me hiding under my cozy duvet with my phone! Don’t ruin a Snow Day off school with rubbish diets… its all about hot chocolate and buttered toast today!
    Lets hope the hormone menopausal weight loss works..who knows by 60 l shall be size 0!

  • Jane says:

    I have never ever been a slave to tyrannical portion control and indeed never been on a diet on my entire life.whats the point? Like you say eating slighting less and doing more when you feel you need it, is definitely the intelligent woman’s way of keeping healthy.
    Joan Collins tweeted a diet tip the other day, saying ” if you feel hungry, try cleaning your teeth” which I thought was such a sad thing for a 79 year old to say. We are lucky to have enough delicious food to eat in the western world and should celebrate and enjoy it. I love making stews, soups and pies to see the family through the winter, just as much as I enjoy lighting fires and candles and trudging through the snow.
    J x

  • Rosemary says:

    Dunno about the pounds slipping off after 55 – it hasn’t been my experience. But hell, it’s January, it’s freezing AND it’s my birthday, so I’m sticking with the comfort food for another couple of days. My favourite diet is an ancient one from Vogue, which involved chicken, lobster and a bottle of champagne a day. You were guaranteed to lose 6lbs after a weekend of that. They don’t make them like that any more!

  • Becky says:

    I like the sounds of Rosemary’s diet – I think I’ll have to give it a go ! I hate dieting more than anything else – the guilt that it forces you into feeling ALL THE TIME is draining. I have been trying for years and years to loose the same stone and a half and I am honestly approaching the point of saying – what’s the point ? I am what I am, eat drink and be merry tomorrow I’ll wear an abbaya !!! Coincidentally the time for the health kick in this part of the world seems to be directly after Ramadan and Eid finish when the very unhealthy habit of eating very fatty stodgy food all through the night and sleeping much of the day is over – then is the time to eat cabbage soup !

  • amanda says:

    Becky I’m so with you, dieting and all that guilt over YEARS and YEARS is so very boring…let’s move on and do fun stuff. Altho I could quite happily adopt that Vogue diet Rosemary suggested as it sounds fun! If I drank a bottle of champagne I’d just sleep the rest of the day away…so perhaps that how it works? A

  • Mrs P says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I am 59 and dread to think how many January diet articles I’ve read! They drive me mad. Can’t magazine editors think of anything new to write about? (i could start a rant about magazines right now actually but I’ll restrain myself) I want to spread a little ray of hope. Being long past the menopause and after a life time of a body that has always wanted to be rounder than I would like, it IS suddenly easier to lose weight. And looking back at all that angst worrying about being a mere 10lbs heavier than I would like I realise that it’s all just a waste of time. It doesn’t matter! So hang in there, eat lovely things, exercise to make yourself feel good and be positive about getting older. Sorry. Got a bit evangelical there!

  • Rohini says:

    I’m 30 this July and just married after 10 years of ‘courting’ – can i just check that is also an acceptable to get off the diet bandwagon for a bit?! : )

  • Amanda says:

    Rohini, MOST DEFINITELY. And congrats! (Also, love the word courting) A

  • Linda says:

    Such clever, sensible women!! If ANY month warrants comfort eating, its January!! ;-)

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