The i newspaper carried a little article this week about the top 10 diets in the UK. One of those included was gluten-free, and as sure as night follows day a coeliac sufferer popped up to say the paper was being dismissive of those with a genuine medical condition. You know the sort of thing, a bit of righteous indignation.

I happen to know a bit about coeliac disease, since I know somebody who suffers from it, and it’s a pretty gruelling condition to deal with. Even so, I fired off, and got published, a letter to the paper. It was edited slightly, but got the point across.

‘People with coeliac disease have no choice but to avoid gluten. However, if you’re merely an adherent of a health guru, with no evidence of any personal health issues associated with gluten, you’re just being a picky eater.’

For some reason they removed my reference to the Hemsley sisters, and my comments about bearded hipsters in Whitechapel. Hey ho.

Serendipitously, in that same issue of the paper, I found out about the latest fad diet, and this truly is a belter even by the barmy standards of fad diets. It’s a new weight loss regime, which you can always expect in the new year. The deal is this. You lay off solids completely, and drink four pints of skimmed milk a day. I didn’t make that up, by the way.

Milk makes you feel full; there again so does water. But four pints is only about 1000 calories, and on that sort of daily energy intake you’re likely to lose weight, I’ll admit that. I doubt that in the short term you’re going to come to much harm either.

However, in the long term what will happen is what happens with pretty much any and every exclusion diet, and that is that you will fail. I guarantee that you won’t live the rest of your life on skimmed milk. I’d wager you can’t last a month with falling off, or maybe onto, the wagon. And failure will always be damaging to your psyche, which is already at a low ebb because of your poor body image and self esteem.

When you do fail, you won’t have done any of the clever dietary adjusting that you need to do to make things lasting. I’ll leave it to an NHS weightloss consultant to explain.

‘… deprivation doesn’t work because it just leaves you felling miserable and obsessed about things you’re not allowed… willpower alone is doomed to failure because it saps your mental energy…(and) you need to enjoy to do it.’

I think that covers it.

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