A cheat's guide to the new diet trends of 2017
For those weary of the annual New Year purge, Phoebe Luckhurst trims the fat from some of this year's most popular healthy eating plans
January is noisy. Moreover, the chorus is not harmonised but sings at competing octaves and tempos. Eat this, avoid that; deprive yourself of this but binge on that. Pleasingly, though, you find some new theories reinforce your existing behaviour; regrettably, others posit that you have been doing it wrong - everything, all of it - for your entire life.
The objective is normally to be lighter, cleaner and purer. There are healthy ways to do this and there are unhealthy ways to do this; it is certainly unhealthy to put too much stock in the prescriptive voices in your head.
However, in sensible moderation, it can be energising to exercise some January restraint and commit - if only temporarily - to the diktats of a thoughtful meal plan. If nothing else, the limited menus make preparing dinner easier.
Cut through the noise - here is a bite-sized guide to this year's zeitgeist regimes.
The Detox Kitchen Bible
Who: Lily Simpson and Rob Hobson
Big talk: Since 2012, Simpson has amassed a huge following through her Detox Kitchen delis in London, dispensing zesty meals to wheat- and dairy-free disciples.
The Detox Kitchen Bible transposes those menus so that you can prepare versions at home. The book contains 200 recipes, created around "fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, wholegrains and pulses, and nuts and seeds". Recipes are designed for sharing and coded according to specific health complications or objectives (eg high cholesterol, high blood pressure, iron deficiency, menopause). Meals include calorie counts.
Banned substances: Dairy, wheat and refined sugar (the best, most nefarious type).
Sweet treats: Not literally - see above - but the carrot and orange muffins look quite cheerful, and raw cacao and chilli truffles deliver a kick.
Mantra: The 80/20 split. Simpson writes: "80pc of the time I eat food that is free of wheat, dairy and refined sugar. And for the other 20 per cent I eat what I want."
Reality check: Some just look like a pile of (anaemic) recipes on a plate. But the dishes are colourful and rarely contain ingredients that you can't get at your local supermarket.
Eat Right 4 Your Type
Who: Dr Peter J D'Adamo
Big talk: A re-issued and updated version of the influential diet plan which theorises that certain blood types respond better to certain foods. Therefore, instead of banning foods, you simply need to eat the right ones, which sounds conveniently - and misleadingly - like you are circumventing a diet. A considerable section is consumed by a reported physiological history of the blood type, which is hungry work.
Banned substances: It depends on your blood type (ask your mum) but each includes a detox menu, short-term diet challenges and exercise recommendations.
Sweet treats: Blood type O - the most common - can chug peanut oil.
Mantra: "Blood type is a genetic powerhouse with an influence on the immune system, metabolism and digestive processes and that different blood types have their own food preferences."
Reality check: Do you know your blood type?
Lean for Life: The Cookbook
Who: Louise Parker
Big talk: Parker is the perky, petite blonde who has reportedly whittled the waists of Emma Thompson and K-Middy (pictured), if you are captivated by star kudos. She insists that this is not a diet book but a "lifestyle that gets you the body you want". Parker promises that by eating her balanced, vital meals you will acquire elegance and grace; menus are focused on food that is quick and easy to prepare. There are two "phases" - a 42-day "transform" phase and a "lifestyle" phase, the longer-lasting reality of eating like Parker, and four "pillars" of wisdom: think successfully, live well, eat beautifully and work out intelligently. Translated, this means learning about proteins and "good" sugars, walking 10,000 steps a day and ensuring meals include protein, low-GI, fat and fibre.
Banned substances: Carbs are definitely under-represented. A typical day starts with carrot cake bircher, a snack of chocolate cinnamon almonds, tabbouleh for lunch, a snack of red pepper hummus and a cod tray bake for dinner.
Sweet treats: Mainly seeds.
Mantra: "I loathe dieting. Dieting is deprivation, tediously boring and doesn't even work."
Reality check: There's definitely an emphasis on working out to complement the diet - but nothing is overly complicated.
The Dopamine Diet
Who: Tom Kerridge
Big talk: Kerridge (pictured above) is a chef; chefs are not typically taken to food deprivation. However, Kerridge has also lost 11 stone in the past three years. He does not claim it was easy - he gave up booze and carbs - but he also focuses, as chefs do, on good- quality ingredients. There are lots of "leafy greens", free-range eggs, meat and oily fish. Kerridge maintains this dietary combination kept him cheerful; the diet is so-called as dopamine is the happy chemical. It's basically a new version of "many things in moderation".
Banned substances: Booze and carbohydrates. Very January.
Sweet treats: Tiramisu ("I'm not embarrassed to say that this (his recipe) is just as good as one that's loaded with carbs."
Mantra: "This proof really is in the pudding, but sadly there aren't many of them."
Reality check: Cutting carbs and alcohol will always work in the short term. Will it last longer than January?
Lean in 15: Sustain
Who: Joe Wicks
Big talk: Wicks is the Instagram-friendly, hewn personal trainer whose regime, Lean in 15, has rocketed to the top of Amazon's bestseller lists. Sustain is the follow-up: 15 recipes to help you maintain your new shape.
Obviously it requires you to have created a shape worth maintaining: Wicks' shtick is 15 recipes and 15-minute exercises (stir-fries and bicycle kicks, basically).
Banned substances: Things that take longer than 15 minutes.
Sweet treats: Wicks is really, really hot?
Mantra: Good abs come in brief packages.
Reality check: A TV programme showed last week that it cost €49 to lose every pound, making it one of the most expensive plans to follow.
Tom's Daily Plan
Who: Tom Daley
Big talk: Worth it for the pictures of Daley with his Rio Olympic bronze, preparing a sandwich - bread! - and meditating in a sumptuous leather chair.
To be fair, he has been on a strict diet most of his life and is probably briefed widely in nutrition. Complete the diet - a mix of balanced meals - with Tom's fitness regimes five times a week. Meals include rarebit on rye, stuffed peppers and squash soup.
Banned Substances: Portions are light, and hefty carbs are usually swapped for something slimline, like a tortilla wrap.
Sweet treats: Sticky toffee pudding!
Mantra: "Making food a social occasion is really important, so sit down at the table and create your own food rituals."
Reality check: Tom can do no wrong.