Just as the English were shovelling the last remnants of Christmas pudding down their throats, Public Health England came out with the non-festive bombshell that 8 in every 10 people aged 40 to 60 in England are overweight, drink too much or get too little exercise. So although we’re living longer, we are in poorer health because we store up problems as we age. It’s being called ‘the sandwich generation’ and the blame is being put on desk jobs, fast food and the daily grind.
Most of my clients, fortunately, are people who keep fit and getting a massage is just part of their routine of looking after themselves. When I get a client who could lose a few pounds (or more), they often ask me what they can do to live a more healthy lifestyle. My advice is generally reduced to a sentence: ‘Eat lots of salad and vegetables, eat slowly, always ask yourself why you are eating, and find some kind of exercise that you enjoy.’
My parents brought up six children. We were poor but none of us was fat because my mother cooked wonderful, healthy food for us every day. My mother didn’t put on weight until after we started leaving home because it was then that she got a very stressful full-time job, turned to ready-cooked meals and no longer had the physical exercise of looking after six kids.
My Italian partner (a food writer) says the English seem very conflicted about food – there are all those TV programmes and cookery books and yet we don’t seem to know how to eat. We binge in ways people from Mediterranean countries would find grotesque.
The Public Health England quiz is worth doing – even if you’re healthy, you’ll probably find there are still areas where you can improve. It got me doing a few extra lengths at Highbury pool this morning.