Big Fat Fail, Lidl Supermarkets

I’m going to be persnickety. Two things about Lidl (a European discount supermarket for my American readers) are seriously annoying me. One is kind of petty. The other is actually pretty important.

Let’s start with the petty one. Lidl in Hungary has normal trolleys and also smaller baskets on wheels. I like to use the smaller baskets on wheels, mainly because you don’t have to fiddle around finding a coin (100 forints or 1 euro) to put in the slot so you can release the trolley from its chains and start trundling it round. I never never have a 100 forint piece when I need one, or I have it in the form of two 50 forint coins etc.

Hungarian supermarkets also generally have a nice custom whereby they provide a small shelf near the checkout where you can put your basket after you’ve paid so you can sort out your plastic bag and avoid putting the eggs under the cabbage, while not holding up the queue.

All was fine with Lidl until this year when some kind of order clearly came down from on high, saying that you could no longer keep your little basket when you went through the checkout, you had to leave your basket before the checkout. So you couldn’t just put your shopping back in your basket after you’d paid for it, and trot over to the shelf to sort yourself out. No, after you’ve paid, you have to either a) put all your shopping in your bag immediately at the checkout which slows down the queue a lot and can be stressful for people who worry about that kind of thing; or b) you have to carry your shopping over to the shelf, requiring several trips, meaning you might drop the eggs, and anyway slows down the queue.

I told you this was petty, didn’t I?

It’s one of those stupid little rules that higher management love to invent. Probably they don’t want to pay the lad who collected up the baskets and took them to the entrance. Maybe it’s a fire hazard. Whatever. The fact that this rule is encouraging the Gauleiter element among the checkout girls and boys, is also irritating. I had a snotty girl order me to take my basket back to the other end of the queue the other day. Instantly reverting to childhood, I put the basket on my head, shouted “coming through!” to the uncomprehending queue and did my best to damage the basket when I dropped it into the pile. Then it took me a remarkably long time to put all my shopping in my plastic bag after I’d paid for it, while the girl sat back and rolled her eyes, the way Hungarian checkout girls often do. I’m not proud of this, by the way. But what do they expect? It’s a stupid irritating petty rule, impacts old ladies more than anyone else, plus you slow down the queue whatever happens and the queues are slow enough already because Lidl clearly doesn’t believe in making it easy to pay.

Remove this silly rule, Lidl. Find another way to save the basket-collecting lad’s wages.

So that’s the petty complaint. Here’s the far more serious complaint and here I’m really being unfair to Lidl because every single supermarket does it. But Lidl have pissed me off, so it’s them.

Do you have to put sugar in everything? I mean, the chocolate and the creamy puddings, that’s fine. I’m trying to cut down the sugar I eat and I’ve taken to reading ingredients lists. Ye gods. EVERYTHING has sugar (or artificial sweeteners which are worse) in it. Not just breakfast cereal and meusli and salami and tinned sweetcorn and sauces and seasonings and pickled cucumbers and bread and coconut milk and…

Frozen seafood? OSTRICH STEAKS? Why in the name of the gods of food do you feel the urge to put sugar in ostrich steaks? Aren’t they sold as healthy meat because low fat? Seafood is ALREADY sweet, do you have to put sugar in that? Why?

Well, I know why – it’s because sugar is addictive and you want us consumers to come back for more ostrich steaks and that’s the quickest and cheapest way to do it.

That’s not good enough, Lidl (and all the rest of you cheating crowd of big grocers). People are wising up to the dangers of sugar and in particular the dangers of sugar that you don’t know is there (ostrich steaks!) I’m not the only person cutting down on sugar. Sugar is quickly becoming the Supervillain of food, not poor old fat. It’s implicated in heart disease, high blood pressure and the pandemic of obesity sweeping the globe, not to mention it causes Type 2 Diabetes. And possibly Alzheimer’s, since it may be that Alzheimer’s is just Type 3 Diabetes of the brain.

You’re going to say you only put a teensy amount in the ostrich steaks. Well it mounts up. Take a look at the USA if you want an awful warning on what happens when you add a little sugar here and a little there. Their obesity levels are at 1 in 3 and their Type 2 Diabetes stats are following up the curve into the stratosphere.

Here’s my suggestion, Lidl. Be at the forefront of the grocery revolution. Introduce a line of products which have neither sugar nor artificial sweeteners in them. Like ostrich steaks and seafood without sugar, vitamin pills without sweeteners. Don’t add anything else like fructose and maltose which are also sugars. Just guaranteed no-sugar no-sweetener food. You can charge a bit more for them, I realise it’s going to be hard NOT adding sugar.

You remember. Like food used to be. No sugar in it unless it’s a pudding. Do it Lidl, your competitors will laugh and then they’ll follow you.

Oh and let  us keep our baskets, eh?

January Brings the Diet… 3Steps to a Great Eating Habit

Yes, this is the result of a New Year\’s resolution but it\’s also because I want to brag – I\’ve just delivered another book for Kindle called \”3 Steps to a Great Eating Habit\” which is a book I\’ve actually been intending to write for about thirty years.


This is my take on how to install a normal eating habit when you\’ve been pogoing between diets and binges for years. It\’s based on the latest research into our metabolisms which pins the blame for our blubber on sugar. I don\’t have a link for it yet, but when I do I\’ll post it here.


I\’m my own experimental subject (again) so I\’ll be following my own recommendations from the book – starting with Step 2, stage 2 – come off sugar. I\’ll let you know how I get on!



Happy New Year. Happy Epiphany as well!

I don\’t believe it!





Something weird is going on here. My sitting room is now empty of furniture except an ugly melamine coffee table, but absolutely full of things I want to get rid of. Boxes and boxes and bags and bags of books went down to the various charity shops popping up all over Truro – which was the world capital of charity shops when we first moved here and may well be so again. Clearly Cameron\’s Double Dip is having the (predictable) effect of killing off the small traders and the interesting little shops that Truro has been full of recently. Recessions always benefit the big corporations because they have more… ah… fat.


I\’m mostly giving it away. Maybe I could get some money for some of the things like my son\’s Playmobil collection, but I don\’t have the time or the patience to go through all that. Yes, I know eBay, yadda yadda… Maybe if I was an experienced eBay trader but not now when I\’m working to a tight deadline and have already spent what feels like months sorting and clearing. Also the postage charge restrictions means you can\’t really sell anything big or heavy that way. Or, put more accurately, I don\’t know how you do it, don\’t know who to ask and don\’t trust what Google might tell me about it (I\’ve made that mistake before).


So. Gradually, wa-a-ay too slowly, my house is emptying, ready to be sold. And my weight is also slowly going down.


Hang on. Back up. Did you get that? My weight is going down. Yes, I\’ve also come off sugar thanks to a horribly scary article in New Scientist a few weeks ago, linking sugar with Alzheimer\’s. As the Daily Mail has ignored the story, I\’m assuming it must be true. I\’ve been following some of the very odd suggestions in \”Six weeks to OMG\”, by Venice Fulton, the latest hot weight-loss book.  But that\’s not what\’s amazing.


What\’s amazing is that it has not been a struggle. As my vast mob of possessions flows out the door it seems as if my body is finally willing to let go of my fat. True, when you stop eating sugar, after a week or two of feeling awful, you do suddenly stop physically craving the stuff and are less likely to find yourself in a robot-binge.


What\’s happened now is different from that. There are no mental cravings. I\’m not lingering longingly in the enticingly stocked biscuit aisles of M & S any more, I\’m not struggling to pass ice cream freezers, I\’m not even hankering after chocolate. I had some on Saturday and… and… I DIDN\’T LIKE THE TASTE VERY MUCH!


This is incredible. It\’s a miracle! Since I turned 13 I have been struggling with my eating problems and my tendency to eat everything not nailed down. I\’ve written an entire book of poetry about it, after all! Coincidentally – maybe – my book and thing collection has also been building since then.


Now it may be that there is a mystical link between the stuff you have in storage and the fat you\’re storing on your belly, which is my body\’s favourite place to stash calories. Maybe the Feng Shui people are right and letting go of stuff means that your energy can flow better. Maybe it\’s just that my body has reached some mysterious threshold… I don\’t know. OK, yes, maybe it\’s the Six Weeks to OMG book – but I\’ve done low-carb diets before and struggled mentally all the way, even after my body had completely come off sugar, the heroin of foodstuffs. That\’s why I still need to lose weight.


Just because the two things – clear out plus weightloss – are happening together, doesn\’t mean one caused the other. But it\’s really weird nonetheless. And very encouraging. That skip is going to be FULL.


One Hundred Possessions, here I come!

I haven\’t been neglecting my blog…

…I\’ve just been planning a linked series of posts and pages more connected with \”The Poetry Diet.\”

At the moment the series has the provisional title of \”Fifteen steps to a Good Eating Habit\” and it\’s about what you do AFTER you finish the diet. It\’s not as simple as a lot of diet books tell you, that\’s for sure.

I\’ll be posting as soon as I can.