JANET STREET PORTER: I won"t raise a glass to this new fashion for abstinence

I won't raise a glass to this new fashion for abstinence



22:19 GMT, 12 November 2012

There must be a receptor in the British brain that refuses to recognise the word 'moderate' - how else do you explain our national tendency to binge

There must be a receptor in the British brain that refuses to recognise the word 'moderate' – how else do you explain our national tendency to binge

There must be a receptor in the British brain that refuses to recognise the word ‘moderate' – how else do you explain our national tendency to binge

We are very good at excess – eating, drinking and taking drugs. Not everyone, but a higher proportion than most comparable countries.

I'm typical – I love food, and rarely a day passes without a glass of wine. I consider myself completely normal.

However, a large number of us are
harming our health – a trend borne out by worrying statistics – and
experts reckon one in three middle-aged men and one in five women are
drinking more each week than they should.

recent investigation fronted by Joan Bakewell focused on pensioners
and excessive drinking. Two-thirds of adults are overweight and a
quarter classified as obese. The big question must be – is it possible
to change the British mindset to stop us harming ourselves

Blair's former spin-doctor Alastair Campbell has given a revealing
interview talking about his problematic relationship with drink.

was promoting the Dry January campaign, launched to raise money for the
charity Alcohol Concern, which asks us to give up booze for the whole
month and get friends and workmates to sponsor us.

In our house, I am already living through a period of abstinence – tempers are frayed, as my partner is into week two of his IF (Intermittent Fasting) diet.

This involves eating less than 600 calories on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and a lot of bacon sandwiches, butter, chocolate and meat the rest of the time.

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He blathers how this diet is based on the ‘caveman' principle. Back when men wore animal skins and beards, and went off to stab or shoot supper with arrows, people went without very much to eat except berries and leaves for days at a time until Fred Flintstone returned home with a stag, rabbit or squirrel.

I pointed out that modern hunter-gathering consists of wheeling a trolley around Tesco while wearing ludicrous combat shorts.

Yes, he looks like a baby seal, with a large swelling around the middle, but you can't turn the clock back to an age where choice wasn't on the agenda 24/7. Fasting days consist of eating a banana and steamed cauliflower and looking sanctimonious. I eat normally – bread, fruit, salad, pulses, eggs and fish, but am made to feel like a pariah.

The IF diet featured on a BBC2 Horizon programme in August, when the reporter followed it for five weeks and lost nearly a stone. Since the Thirties, scientists have noticed that mice living on a nutritious but low-calorie diet lived a lot longer.

Big deal, we're not mice and have a complex relationship with food and drink and pleasure. Abstinence won't change that permanently. I am opposed to IF dieting and the notion of Dry January, and here's why. The reason why people drink and eat to excess is to liven up their dreary lives, and why should we denigrate that

My partner taught in a deprived area of North London for two years, and most of the poor (mainly white) population seemed to be slightly drunk or stoned all day long.

The place was an environmental wasteland, residents had no jobs or dreary, low-paid ones. They lived in council flats surrounded by rubbish. The reason why some people drink to excess is complex and will not be addressed by spending a month sober. Going on a diet two days a week and eating eclairs and bars of Dairy Milk the other five days will not deal with obesity long-term either.

Many elderly people drink because they're lonely and bored, and unless we address those social issues, who are we to start moaning at them about the number of units they imbibe

The same with drugs: when people are dying in pain, what's wrong with doctors prescribing small amounts of MDMA so they can end their days with a smile on their face

We must not demonise all drugs because some have a vital role to play in end-of-life care.
The big issue, which banning drugs, promoting diets and campaigning for alcohol-free months fails to address, is why so many people feel there's a big hole at the centre of their lives.


Lulu goes bare on Bearfaced Day

Lulu goes bare on Bearfaced Day

Last Friday was designated BearFaced Day, in aid of BBC's Children In Need.

Loads of beautiful women, from Heidi Klum to Lulu (pictured), Caroline Flack and Louise Redknapp were pictured by top photographer Rankin without any make-up, in order to ‘persuade' us to go without make-up for a day to raise funds for a good cause.

YUCK! First, these photos could have been airbrushed.

Second, why would ordinary women welcome high-profile beauties telling them to take the children to school and spend a day in the office completely unadorned Talk about patronising!

Women use make-up as their defence against the world, and it's typical of models, presenters and singers to think they're New Age feminists by telling us to go without it for a good cause.

I'd rather wear lippy and send a cheque. Memo to Children In Need: please cancel silly stunts like this next time, it only annoys your core audience.


Debenhams is selling a new range of clothing named after iconic Sixties designer Ossie Clark, who died in 1996.

Ossie collaborated with textile designer Celia Birtwell to produce some of the most beautiful dresses that summed up that era, worn by Pattie Boyd, Ali MacGraw (pictured) and Bianca Jagger. He made my first wedding dress in lace and purple crepe.

Sadly, his former wife Celia says she lost the rights to his name in 2000 and what Debenhams is selling has very little to do with Ossie's original brilliance.

Celia designed a successful range for Topshop a while ago – why wasn't she consulted


Nadine Dorres in the jungle

Nadine Dorres in the jungle

Nadine Dorries isn't my cup of tea, but she's hard to ignore, particularly now she's stuck in the jungle with a motley band of campers.

I disagree with her position on abortion – she wants the time limit for terminations lowered – but she's one of the few Tory MPs from a working-class background.

Old Etonians run London, the Church of England and the Government, and one of Cameron's old school pals is behind the firm of head-hunters who shortlisted George Entwistle to run the BBC – what kind of message does that send to voters

Nadine (a bus driver's daughter who grew up on a council estate in Liverpool) hit a nerve when she complained about ‘posh boys' in  Government.

Let's see how she copes with life in the jungle and whether she comes across as articulate and receptive to other's opinions, although she didn't start well, being bossy and failing to navigate a river, spending two nights cold and wet under canvas.

After this, a drubbing from party whips will be a piece of cake.

Appearing on I'm A Celebrity needn't damage your reputation, though – I've been a regular on Question Time and presented serious documentaries.

PS: Mr Cameron hasn't honoured his pledge to appoint women to a third of Cabinet posts – it's running at 18 per cent. Way to go, posh boy!