We’ve had so many warnings on health we no longer listen

Eating healthily?: Advice varies so much on what is good or bad for us, argues Rachel.

Eating healthily?: Advice varies so much on what is good or bad for us, argues Rachel. - Credit: PA

Every day another report of 'expert' advice telling us what we enjoy will kill us.

Only hermits and Highland crofters could be excused for shovelling three sugars in their tea, guzzling half a bottle of wine with their supper and frosting their chips with salt without 'this could seal my fate' catapulting into their thoughts.

No one over 25 could have crunched on a Pringle or sloshed the Baileys over ice over Christmas without at least a smidgen of a thought of the looming Grim Reaper as safe levels, limits and saturated fats rang in our ears from the scattergun of health 'warnings'.

To be healthy, shiny, bright and oozing longevity, we should subsist on raw organic veg alone – beware fruit; it contains the evil sugar. Fruit rots teeth, you know.

But even exclusive consumption of kale and blueberries can't guarantee of a long and healthy life. There are no guarantees.


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My closest friend from school was the most health-conscious wholesome eater who never smoked, rarely drank and exercised and loved the outdoors. She was dead at 34 from secondary cancer in two sites after fourth-stage ovarian cancer.

A life of miserable abstinence, piously sipping water with salad – hold the dressing! – while everyone else is downing Chablis and dipping bread into baked Camembert might give you a chance of a longer healthier life, but there are no definites. And will you be happy?

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Have we ever been so hectored about what we should and shouldn't eat and drink?

It's tiresome, tedious and so repetitive that the frequent 'warnings' are becoming like wallpaper. Is anyone even listening now?

Those of us who made it through the Seventies on regular doses of Vesta curries, Pot Noodles, corned beef, Angel Delight and bottles of day-glo coloured Hubbly Bubbly with not so much as 'do you think you should?' can't get worked up about the warnings, I'm afraid.

Back then, a supermarket's fresh fruit portfolio stretched to apples, bananas, oranges, grapes and grapefruit. Even 'fresh' orange juice was considered a luxury and served as a starter. Then there were Wagon Wheels.

I can't remember any warnings about danger food until research made eggs cholesterol-laden killers – now disproved. I rest my case – and too much salt was bad for you. But today, with such huge choice of fresh fruit and veg, we're treated as weak-minded idiots who can't make our own decisions. Those fortunate enough to have reached 50-plus dodging the saturated fat bullet, type 2 diabetes, clogged arteries, morbid obesity and every other food and drink-related malady predicted by doomwatch experts are now being warned that a few glasses of Rioja or Chablis could be their real problem.

Among the young alcohol consumption is declining.

The people we should really be worrying about now, apparently, are the over-50s, drinking more because of how their lives are turning out.

The largest survey of its kind – 17,000 over-50s —found that a fifth drank more than the old government guidelines. Shock, horror.

Anxiety, retirement or fear of it and personal setbacks set them reaching for the bottle. Or simply because they enjoy it?

Who could blame them, realising they will need to work until they're 70 to eke out their measly pensions? From what I see, enjoying a daily drink or two is more about relaxation and reward than stress itself.

Life changes dramatically after 50 in so many ways, practically, physically and emotionally.

So what if sharing a bottle of wine a night is part of all the changes we embrace? It's just a drink, not self-medication.

Four in 10 said their drinking had increased after retirement. Could that be because, without the worry of daily work, they're free to enjoy what they like?

To ring the death knell because they enjoy more to drink when they want to slow down feels a fuss about nothing and a concern to shelve.

Excessive drinking and alcohol abuse is one thing, but enjoying better wine and more of it than we could afford in our 30s is another.

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