Fiona Duff: Ditch diet plans and use willpower

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So that old chubster Lord Falconer is no longer. He hasn’t passed away, merely shed five stone of excess fat on a diet that seemed to consist of apples and Diet Coke.

Good on him, but whilst he’s got less chance of getting diabetes or dropping dead with a heart attack, Lord knows what all that aspartame has done to him.

I’ve long been a believer that “diet” drinks just aren’t that good for you. Let’s face it – the ones made with sugar are pretty bad for your health; every nutritionist under the sun will tell you to steer clear of both. In their book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, James and Phyllis Balch list aspartame under the category of “chemical poison”. I have no idea if they are a couple of quacks, but it sure isn’t a natural product.

It seems crazy that we in the Western world give money to charities so that people in less developed countries can have access to clean water yet shun that very liquid ourselves in favour of a can filled with chemicals that may or may not cause all sorts of health problems. For every report that points out possible 
terrible side effects, there’s another to say that aspartame is as safe as houses. Tell that to someone living close to an eroding clifftop.

With that little rant off my chest, I do have to also commend Lord Falconer, below, as I heard him talking about weight loss on the radio. He didn’t follow any specific weight loss plan, he just cut down on food and took up exercise. The diet industry makes a flipping fortune out of our desire to find a quick fix to achieving the perfect body. Those meal replacement drink plans and regimes where you cut a whole food type out of your grub intake may indeed give speedy results but not long-term satisfaction. Also, especially as you grow older, sudden loss of unwanted blubber can actually end up making you look quite unwell. One friend on an extreme version of the 5:2 finally stopped when someone asked his wife if he had cancer.

The only thing that is required to be leaner and healthier, as we all know, is willpower. Now if only that came in a can with a handy ringpull I’d be first on the beach with a bikini.

Ready for Wicked entertainment

ARE you feeling Wicked? If not you’re missing out on the biggest theatre buzz of the year.

Wicked is the award-winning musical that I’ve never had time to see in London (42 million people around the world have seen it so I really don’t have an excuse) but it’s coming to Edinburgh on November 19 so my wait is over. Like Les Mis and Mamma Mia, this show hasn’t been driven by star names but instead by audiences who think it is totally fabulous.

Now all I need is a pointy hat and I’ll be ready to see it. I suggest you forget about the head gear and just book a ticket before it sells out.

RAP some internet safety awareness into your children

WHEN you have children there is one thing that we all worry about in this modern world. There is so much out there on the internet which one would never have had access to in the years before Tim Berners-Lee came up with the world wide web.

There is a constant stream of advice from schools and government bodies about how we should monitor what our nippers are clicking on when alone in their rooms. But what would a teenager think that a teacher or parent knows about anything?

Frankly, they think we are all idiots – and indeed may well have a good case. However, put two sassy New Yorkers in front of them and their little ears might prick up take in some information.

That’s where the RAP Project (www.therap comes in – Allison Havey and Deana Puccio go to schools and talk to girls and boys about raising awareness of not only personal safety but personal esteem.

They’ve not made it over the Border yet, but plan to visit Scotland next year.

So look out for that letter from the school – your children may thank you for many years ahead.

Strictly speaking our television screens should be more on the Ball

OH my goodness, I hope my mother isn’t reading this. I’ve got a girl crush.

Over the years come autumn I’ve been a bit of a Saturday night bore – preferring a couple of hours with Strictly Come Dancing rather than cutting a rug myself. I unashamedly loved Brucie and his terrible jokes and was really quite sad when he threw in the towel. I haven’t been too keen on this Tess ’n’ Claudia combo, but how my heart soared last Saturday when Zoe Ball appeared.

She’s natural, funny and totally gorgeous. Why on earth is she not on TV more when the screen is filled with personality vacuums most days and nights?

In a week when I culled needless Facebook “friends”, I know that she is what I want in a real new one.