IS there anything more dispiriting in life that a low-fat yoghurt? Nope – glad that one’s sorted then.
I never knowingly eat low-fat anything unless it’s an apple. Any product which proclaims such a reduction isn’t proper food: it’s a messed-up nutritional experiment and a dietary apology for whatever it should be.
It’s long been a rule-of-tum in this house to spurn anything with the words ‘low fat’ on the tub. If picked up in error, these dietary doppelgangers are put down sharpish. Although that word is generally used to refer to “someone who looks like someone else”, I reckon it’ll do nicely here, too. That’s because a low-fat yoghurt looks like something else – and what it looks like is a proper yoghurt with the amount of fat required to make it taste nice and feel right on your tongue.
Low-fat foods have been tampered with something rotten to live up to the label, often by having their sugar content raised. They taste thin and nasty and I have long believed they cannot be good for you.
So it was cheering this morning to wake up to headlines such as “Official advice on low-fat diet and cholesterol is wrong, says health charity” (The Guardian) or “Low-fat diet bad for your health” (Daily Mirror).
The National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration believe the advice to eat low-fat foods and to lower cholesterol is having “disastrous health consequences”.
In what is described as a damning report, they say the focus on low-fat diets is failing to address Britain’s obesity crisis – and add that what makes people fat is snacking between meals.
Instead, the forum advises, we should be eating wholefoods such as meat, fish and dairy – and full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese could help with weight loss and protect the heart.
Years ago we used to eat margarine – I know, the shame of it – of the sort that proclaims its health benefits. But we went back to butter. This is because butter is natural and delicious, while margarine spreads are unnatural and unpleasant (as well as being far too processed and manufactured).
Of course no report about diet and food comes without its hecklers, and the Daily Express quotes Dr Alison Tedstone of Public Health England as saying “calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs, and ignore calories is irresponsible” as “international health organisations agree too much saturated at raises cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and obesity”.
I guess in the end you have choose what to believe, and I just choose to believe that low-fat yoghurt is false food – and a false friend to anyone foolish enough to believe that eating such a nasty thing will be good for them.
The report also points out that the influence of the food industry represents a “significant threat to public health”, adding that the recent Eatwell Guide from Public Health England was produced with representatives from the food and drink industry.
That always looked like a dodgy arrangement to me, seeking the advice of the people who want to sell you manufactured food of questionable worth.
Professor David Baslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, says in the report: “Current efforts have failed – the proof being that obesity levels are higher than they have ever been, and show no chance of reducing despite the best efforts of government and scientists.”
My own advice is to eat proper food and cook most of it yourself – nothing fancy most of the time, just real food that hasn’t been ‘factory fiddled’ in the name of good health.
Oh, and here’s a plug: if you want a good yoghurt, buy Longley Farm ones (full fat, naturally). I’ve been eating those since I was a boy, when sometimes I used to freeze the pots, against the advice on the label, and eat them iced.
And the same Yorkshire dairy produces the best natural yoghurt around, pots of which are nearly always to be found in our fridge. A small dish of that sharp but thick and lovely full-fat yoghurt with a drizzle of honey makes for a perfect quick pudding.