Annemarie is the magazines editor and regular columnist for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Diet fads go against the grain

1 comment

I'm never going to invite Johanna Pitot round to come and dine with me.

She might be a lovely person and an engaging dinner guest. But she doesn't eat gluten, sugar, fish, pork and a few other things. That puts her in the chef's too hard basket. If she was coming round I would tell her to pack her own lunch.

When I hear people talking about no sugar, no carbs, no grains, no fruits, no beans, no this, no that, I just think, "no doubt, you're a pain in the ass".
Annemarie Quill

It was reported this week that Ms Pitot had complained to Air New Zealand following a flight to Los Angeles where she said the airline had not offered her a special meal, just "a teeny-tiny plate of brown wilted lettuce".

On the one hand you can sympathise that if someone had a special dietary requirement and was paying like everyone else then a business should offer them an alternative meal. This might be the case, for example, with someone with a severe peanut allergy or coeliac disease, where eating gluten could make them seriously ill or eating nuts could kill them..

We do not learn the circumstances of Ms Pitot's restricted diet, and if due to illness, then I sympathise.

But where does one draw the line with special dietary requirements?

Allergies aside, the sheer volume and variety of fad or restrictive diets that people are embarking on would make it impossible for airlines or indeed restaurants to cater for every individual need.

When I hear people talking about no sugar, no carbs, no grains, no fruits, no beans, no this, no that, I just think, "no doubt, you're a pain in the ass".

There seems no end to the odd diets people are going on.

An Australian man is experimenting with a diet of nothing but potatoes reported the Daily Mail, meaning he would be right at home on Mars with Matt Damon's fictional character, Mark Watney in the movie The Martian who had to survive on just potatoes. In another story a British woman had a diet of just digestive biscuits and toast.

Last year the food craze was the paleo diet which had us all trying to convince ourselves that cauliflower rice really was as tasty as Uncle Ben's and that giving up a delicious bowl of tagliatelle in favour of pasta made of courgettes which if we are honest has no resemblance to spag bol. Not to mention kale chips which taste like something scraped off your big toe.

Already this year the paleo diet is being challenged for its exclusion of grains which shows that many food diets are just fashions that go in and out.

It is commendable to try to eat healthy, to limit sugar and bad fats, but from what I understand of nutrition, a healthy diet is a varied one.

Plus restrictive eaters can come across as just rude.

It used to be the case that it was seen as bad manners not to eat what someone had prepared for you. Fine to reject it if due to allergy, if eating something would going to make you swell up and keel over but if it is just a question of taste or diet, the polite thing to do is put aside your personal preferences and just suck it up.

It is different of course if you are a paying guest but when you have an extremely restrictive diet I think there has to be some understanding that your needs might not be able to be served.

In this case, a business like an airline might offer an alternative or price reduction.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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