In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s ‘that’ time of year. According to the Telegraph, the “average” woman spends over £470 just to get ready for the beach – in some cases, that’s twice as much as she spends on the holiday itself.
There’s the massage and the manicure and the pedicure and the spray tan …
Well indeed. Some women apparently actually spend time and money getting a spray tan before going and posing poolside. Okay, what someone does with their money is entirely up to them, but I’d suggest that it’s not “average – well, not beyond the ‘beauty halls’ of Debenhams, from which the survey emerged.
But there’s the diet too. After all, when you haul on your cossie, you want to look like – well, a supermodel, of course.
And there is nothing better suited to this than the famous Special K challenge, wheeled out every year on TV, which suggests that it can ensure you look stunning in a red one-piece.
I decided not to get caught up in signing up to the British version to get the information that way – but the TV ad has long given the impression of replacing two meals a day with a bowl of Special K, so that gives us an idea.
According to the Kellogg's US website, the diet over there goes as follows. Every day, you eat:
“Two Special K® meals
“Replace 2 meals a day with any? delicious variety of:
“Special K® Cereal
“Protein Meal Bars
“Two Special K® snacks
“Treat yourself to 2 tasty, anytime? snacks a day:
“Special K® Protein Snack Bars
“Crackers & Chips
“One meal of your choice
“Fill up on fruits & veggies whenever you want.
“Drink beverages like you normally do”.
Does the latter include beer? It is a beverage, after all?
Spot the common denominator of most of the above? That’s right – it’s all a load of Kellogg’s products. Which you’re meant to buy. And rather than actually suggest that our culture of snacking is, in general, part of the problem, Kellogg’s want you to spend more on snacks as part of your diet.
And seriously – who buys “protein water”?
Well, obviously some people do, lured by advertising campaigns that claim that it helps weight loss.
Over at wisebread.com (“living large on a small budget”), it's described it as containing “little more than regular water, sugar, whey protein, and calcium mixed together.”
And it concludes: “It is less nutritious than a glass of low fat milk.”
Yet reading the comments that follow reveals vast numbers of people looking for easy, quick diet answers – and being entirely happy to say that the article is flawed. Is it too cynical to suspect that some of the replies might be corporate?
The idea behind protein water is that it takes the edge off your appetite. Well so does water. And you can get Adam’s Ale out of a tap. A lot, lot cheaper than any product that you buy.
Looking up adverts for protein water in the UK, it seems to roll in at something like £20 for 12 bottles. In the US, Wal-Mart sells 10 sachets of Kellogg’s ‘Special K2O protein water mix’ (available in assorted flavours) for $5.48.
Two of those (or a similar Kellogg’s snack) per day? So that box gets you through five days.
Looking at Amazon in the UK, you find that Kellogg’s Special K red berry bar (23g per bar) is £19.90 for a pack of 10. Special K double chocolate meal bars – £17.99 for eight.
This stuff isn’t cheap. And Kellogg’s is far from unique. There is a whole, vast industry out there with a massive need to keep people insecure about their self image – so that they’ll keep spending money on the things that they desperately hope will miraculously give them that Baywatch body.
So it was with a modicum of surprise – and pleasure – that I happened upon this article in free magazine Stylist the other week.
It’s not often you see anything sensible written about dieting – it doesn’t earn much in advertising revenue – but this is a rarity.
They’re right: diets do not work.
And just in case any of you are wondering, I am neither spending £400 for assorted treatments nor dieting before heading south in a fortnight.
My limit is drinking plenty of water – a bit of exfoliation and a bit of moisturising cream. I'll have my hair hacked back again – but it's a waste of time having colour put in when I'm going to be spendin as much time as possible in the sun and salt water.
Oh. And as for the diet? That'll be proper food.