Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Healthy eating and an odour of sanctity

The recent figures on childhood eating disorders make chilling reading.

Over at Orphans of Liberty, Angry Exile points out - with his customary acerbity - that while the MSM are quick to point the finger at 'size zero' models and the celebrity culture, their own constant reference to the 'obesity epidemic' may well be playing a significant part.

Obesity has given the Righteous a mighty stick with which to smite the unbeliever and the righteous are wielding it with a vengeance; their new morality - derived, I suspect, from the slimming clubs attended by NHS administrators - is an easy one; fat = bad.

A while ago, I posted on NHS staff berating cancer patients for their supposed alcohol consumption or lack of exercise with no evidence whatsoever, justifying their action with the false syllogism:

Cancer is caused by unhealthy lifestyles.
You have cancer.

ergo You have an unhealthy lifestyle

Never mind that the patient hates alcohol and her last drink was a sherry with the in-laws at Christmas, or that she walks seven miles a day with her dog; the gospel of Healthy Living must be preached.

These evangelical harpies recently struck again; a friend was in hospital when a bright-faced young woman came in and introduced herself as his dietician before launching straight into the First Lesson for the day; 'You have to cut down on red meat".

"How much red meat do I eat, then?" my friend replied. This puzzled her; " I don't know," was the baffled answer, "How could I?" Then she brightened up; "But you have to cut down, anyway."

My friend - a Cambridge graduate who has managed to feed himself well for decades while pursuing an active career - ran logical rings round her as she tried in vain to deliver her creed for Healthy Eating; eventually she gave up and went in search of easier prey.

Our secular society is in danger of creating a whole new priestly caste - the Nanny State embodied in an army of 'experts' loudly proclaiming their revealed truth of 5-a-day and reduced-calorie diets and casting out the unholy trinity of salt, sugar and fat.

The message is pitched at a volume designed to reach those whose lifestyles feature more television and takeaways than home cooking and exercise - subtlety is, I think it's fair to say, not the order of the day.The 'healthy eating' message, complete with graphic portrayals of the fate of non-believers, is delivered with aggressive evangelical zeal to even the youngest of hearers.

And, just as some children in the past became fervently religious, a few over-conscientious, sensitive children are taking this message to extremes. The 'odour of sanctity' reported in the cells of ascetic medieval saints was almost certainly ketosis - which produces sweet-smelling acetone in the breath - resulting from extreme fasting in the name of religion.

Who would have guessed we would see its re-appearance in the 21st century?


  1. So, the NHS can't afford to pay for people to keep the wards clean, but can pay for little Miss Fussbucket to go swanning round hectoring patients?

    If I ran that Trust, I'd give her a mop and tell her she might as well make herself useful!

  2. "The 'odour of sanctity' of the medieval saints"

    Could have been their hairshirts too. Imagine how ripe they must have been.

    I agree about the new secular priestly caste, I think it has been with us for a long time. The role is sanctified by long tradition you might say.

  3. Nice to have you back. As a couple who have to be fussy about food we go to all sorts of lengths as to what we get and where. It is getting more and more difficult as the choice of outlets shrinks and the supermarkets exert more control. What is astonishing in looking at archive films is how live and healthy so many young people looked in the 1940's and 1950's as opposed to today. The trouble is that it is much more complicated than just healthy eating. I suspect that sitting here on a hot day banging away at the machine will not do me much good!

  4. 'The NHS...can pay for little Miss Fussbucket to go swanning round hectoring patients?

    Excellently put - I'll pass it on to my friend!

    AKH - those hairshirts weren't only ripe (it was untreated goat's hair, wasn't it?) but I seem to remember it being claimed that the more verminous they were, the saintlier the occupant.

    Ta, Demetrius; I agree there's much more to it than food, but I wonder if wartime rationing also played a part - along with a lack of chemical additives (of which more tomorrow); digging for victory had the added benefit of plenty of vitamin-rich fresh produce for anyone with a garden.