Recently Heat magazine ran yet another article that could have been a parody. It makes you wonder if one day a bored Heat writer will file an article called 'Beat Clinical Depression with the Signs of the Zodiac!' as a joke, and noone will notice.
We checked whether the article '102 Celeb Diet Tips' had the byline 'Chris Morris', but it didn't. However it did contain plenty of little gems like:
'When tempted to nibble, Mariah (Carey) pops an ice cube into her mouth so she feels like she's eating. Best of all, the body uses 40 calories to melt an ice cube, so she burns calories without consuming any.'
Yup, there's nothing like an ice cube to set you up for the day. But Mariah may be on to something: the reason why diets work or don't work is usually quite simple. Either you eat less calories than you use, or you don't. There are thousands of diets of varying degrees of kookiness, but all probably work on the same basic principle: people start taking notice of what they're eating and reduce their calorie intake.
But Heat's diet tips ('Try them - they really work!') neatly summed up the way we've invented science and logic, but are still happy to believe in any old quackery when it comes to health and nutrition.
Take actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, who 'always separates her food and eats her potatoes before her meat. She believes that her body digests food better this way'. Well you can believe it all you like, love, but it isn't going to make it true. We're prepared to be open-minded about the possibility that not combining certain foods may have some dietary value, but the flaw in eating your potatoes before your meat is - to state the obvious - that it's all going to get churned up together anyway in your stomach a few minutes later.
Elsewhere, the stars' dietary tips border on the masochistic. Jennifer Aniston is on a low-carb diet which forbids one of her favourite foods: bagels. The solution? 'She scoops out the middle and eats only the shell'.
Other self-deniers include:
- Claudia Schiffer: 'I don't drink alcohol, not even to celebrate an occasion, and I steer clear of caffeine';
- Mel C, who dips her roast chicken into soy sauce as a substitute for mayonnaise or gravy; and, of course,
- Madonna, who sticks to a strict macrobiotic diet, which involves lots of tasty wholegrains and chewing each mouthful 50 times.
Macrobiotics, in case you didn't know, is a diet that's been known to kill people when they take it too far, and which comes with a load of metaphysical Eastern twaddle. But of all the celebs listed in Heat, probably the most pathetic (in the dictionary sense) diet tip comes from, quelle surprise, Leslie Ash.
Leslie 'has a novel way to prevent herself nibbling her kids' leftovers' - she covers them in washing-up liquid. Says Leslie: 'Otherwise I will just pick and pick.'
This brings to mind a genuinely distressing mental image: Leslie Ash desperately fighting her craving for leftovers, like Popeye Doyle after he's become addicted to heroin in The French Connection 2. Leslie sees a delicious plate of peas in cold gravy, a blob of mayonnaise turning translucent, or a choice bit of spat-out gristle... can she control herself? Will she wolf them down? NO! She grabs the washing-up liquid and squirts the offending foodstuffs! She's safe... this time...
What's even more depressing is that at the root of Leslie's leftovers craving is surely the fact that Leslie was, at one point, one of the babes of BBC TV - maybe even more attractive than Jan Francis or Janet Ellis, although that's a moot point.
Like Norma Desmond she clings to her beauty, staying trim by not noshing those leftovers like a crazed pig. But in the fight against the ravages of age there can only be one winner...
It's easy to accuse Heat magazine of promoting body fascism in the most sadistic way: endlessly parading abnormally toned bodies then providing the tools for getting them, eg. 'Instead of Christmas dinner, why not try a small glass of water?'
But maybe the readers are actually having the last laugh. You may be a bit overweight, but at least you aren't doubled up with guilt because you ate a bagel. Or maybe this is reading too much into it. Maybe Heat readers just don't think about very much at all. These are, after all, the same people who, in a poll of 'sexiest women', managed to vote Nadia from Big Brother into