No, I haven’t embraced Islam, I’ve started the 5:2 diet. This is where you “fast” or at least greatly reduce your calorie intake on two days each week. I have never followed a diet before, I’ve heard too many reports of rapid weight loss being followed quickly by rapid weight gain – so-called “yo-yo” dieting.
When I read about the 5:2 diet it seemed to be coming from a different angle. It’s based on solid scientific research and seeks to tackle the issue of fat-loss rather than weight-loss. It looks at how our metabolism works.
Our bodies have been developed over millennia by evolution, which works on a very long timescale. Here in the west, we are facing a relatively new phenomenon of plentiful supplies of food. And the market pushes food and especially sugary food at us all day, everyday. Luckily the present government are so caring that they are doing everything they can to reduce the amount of money we have to buy food. Perhaps we’ll all be on the 5:2 diet soon, whether we like it or not.
But I digress, the point I was trying to make is that our bodies are trying to cope with constant eating which they are not designed to deal with. Fasting gives our bodies a chance to catch up and deal with – metabolise – the food, especially carbohydrates that we eating too much of. If you think about our hunter-gatherer ancestors, they had a small but regular intake of nuts and berries with intermittent meat from animal kills. That’s pretty much still what our bodies are expecting. So breakfast, lunch, tea, plus a Mars bar mid morning and crisps and biscuits on the sofa in front of the TV … well it’s bound to lead to problems!
I’m not evangelising for this diet or any other. I am trying to explain rationally the thinking and research behind it that has convinced me it’s a good thing to do.
I like to think that I’m a rational person. I was brought up in a Christian household and I have no problem with the ethics of Christianity – at least the strain we followed. Care for others, do to others as you would like others to do to you, blessed are the peacemakers, etc.
The culture it has spawned has been amazing. I love visiting cathedrals and listening to Bach’s Mass in B minor. But I never got the God thing. Why does there have to be someone out there, in charge of everything?
Going back to our hunter-gather days, we couldn’t explain why the sun rose every morning, or the change of the seasons, or storms or volcanoes. Having a god, or gods to thank or blame made as much sense as anything else. But now we can explain why these things happen. We understand gravity, the solar system, meteorology and plate tectonics – why do we still need god?
That’s a rhetorical question by the way, but no doubt someone will try to enlighten me in the comments section.
The basics of religion are irrelevant, but mostly harmless from my point of view. I have friends who are religious and lead as good a life as my atheist friends. The trouble is that people do things in the name of religion that are not good and then wrap them up as part and parcel of being a true believer.
Women’s oppression runs through most societies and we are gradually pushing it back, not fast enough, but we’ve made quite a lot of progress in the last 100 years. And yet the Church of England is still debating whether to let women be bishops, and some strands of Islam insist on covering women from head to toe, or worse mutilating their genitals – all in the name of religion.
It’s not religion, it’s not in your holy books. These are cultural practices and culture develops and moves on. We live in the 21st century and society has progressed. If you want your religion to be relevant, you need to move with the times.
I’ll be back next week with more of my views from South of the River. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me: @BeestonJeremy.