GOOD MORNING. Hope you are having a good one—better than us. There’s deep gloom at the Jam Household since school starts tomorrow. The children are moping around, trying to find bits of uniform that haven’t disintegrated, missing school books, shoes that match, etc. Adults are trying to find clothes that still fit.
The newspapers are running re-runs of this column, while your humble narrator seeks out new topics before next Monday, when fresh columns will appear in the press. (Ideas welcomed.)
Meanwhile, several readers have been moaning that they have put on weight over the summer. Holidays are terrible for the waistline. One reader named CS wrote: “why can’t human brains tell the difference between being bored and being hungry? seriously, this is making me fat.”
Actually, her letter talked about “human brians” so I’m not sure if she is referring to humanity as a whole, or just people called Brian.
No matter, the debate is the same: here’s a bit of discussion on that topic that I sent off to someone, I think it was Readers’ Digest.
HERE’S ONE of the great mysteries of modern life. All the Westerners in my office keep in shape by cutting noodles and rice from their diets. All the Asians in my office keep in shape by eating nothing but noodles and rice. How come?
This observation proves one fact conclusively: I spend too much time watching other people in my office eating.
Here’s another mystery. If you skip 10 desserts over 10 days, you lose one pound. But if you eat ONE dessert on the 11th day, you immediately GAIN TWO POUNDS. How does that work? It must be something to do with quantum physics.
My wife has a penchant for molten chocolate cake, but no longer eats it. She just applies it to her hips.
If you are interested in nutrition, as I am, the most important thing, of course, is to have children. This is because you can use them for weird and bizarre experiments, a process known as “parenting”.
But at first, I couldn’t try out any feeding experiments on my youngest child, who turned out to be an Air Baby. Air Babies refuse to eat normally but extract nutrients from thin air, just like those hydroponic plants you get on tree branches in Sri Lanka. If we ever tried to get her to eat something, she would holler, aggrieved, “But I ATE SOMETHING LAST MONTH.”
We took her to a doctor.
He said that there was a test to see if small children were thriving. He shook her chubby cheeks. “She’s fine,” he said. “At this age, they have an instinctual knowledge of what their bodies need—and it’s more trustworthy than what adults think they need.”
So we stopped trying to make her eat normal meals and just put food on the table to see what she chose to eat.
The first day, she ate only plain rice—three bowls of it—but no meat or vegetables. The second day she ate no rice or vegetables—but a whole steak, chopped into tiny bits.
The third day she ate no rice or meat but no less than four large bowls of dau miu – a Chinese vegetable that’s a bit like spinach.
We suddenly realized that she was in fact eating a healthy balanced diet, although stretched over a week instead of half an hour like the rest of us.
This discovery led to me getting a reputation as The God of Parenting.
This is how it happened. One Saturday, we invited three other families over for dinner. In the run-up to this, the Air Baby had lived on Ribena fumes on Thursday and desserts on Wednesday.
As luck would have it, on the day we had guests, she was having a Vegetables Day.
The other parents watched astonished as this tiny child ignored the French fries on the table and just ate vast amounts of greens.
“Wow! How did you train her to do that?” they asked, their eyes as green as the spinach.
“Skilled parenting,” I lied.
In the meantime, I have decided that the best diet advice ever comes from Miss Piggy of Sesame Street fame, who said: “Never eat anything at one sitting that you cannot lift.”
I am heading to the gym to practice bench-pressing three-kilogram cheesecakes.