The Banting diet reimagined for politicians

A Banting diet for politicians? If that's the case we have to go way beyond carbs and sugar. (AFP)

A Banting diet for politicians? If that's the case we have to go way beyond carbs and sugar. (AFP)

Carbs are the devil. Just ask Professor Tim Noakes. I’m not so sure about his Banting diet. At first I thought that it was called that because presumably all you could eat were triangular-shaped scraps hanging from a string, a sort of foodie take on bunting. But I was wrong. Apparently you can eat that AND chunks of meat, preferably stewed in fat, with some fat on the side. 

Understandably, Noakes has come under fire from the establishment for his take on weight-loss. But his is not an eating plan, he has stressed, it’s a “revolution”. And perhaps to emphasise his point he has aligned himself to that other famous revolutionary: Julius Malema.

In a recent extraordinarily gushing article, which waxed lyrical about Noakes’s topless running in the streets of Cape Town, the professor made his best claim yet. 

Talking about his own weight and diabetes issues, Noakes described how he realized he was “carbohydrate intolerant”: and then claimed he could tell when anyone else was too – including politicians. And no, not just the likes of Khulubuse Zuma – that would be too easy. “When I look at the politicians, I can tell you the same and Mr Malema is one of them,” he said, laughing. “So I have this in common with him, but the difference is that I know it and he doesn’t.”

I can think of a lot of things Malema is intolerant of – political consistency, paying his taxes and cheap belts are just a few items off the top of my head. But carbs? That’s news to me. 

It did, however, get me thinking. Apparently Parliament invited Noakes to their hallowed halls to provide some eating tips, much to the horror of his academic peers

Parliament is renowned for its lavish buffets and ability to turn slim newcomers into pudgier versions who can scarcely rouse themselves during a debate but will beat you to the front of the queue for the chicken drumsticks, given half a chance. 

Perhaps noticing the general lethargy around the place, Parliament’s wellness unit invited Noakes to address MPs and staff in August and left the lot of them more enthused than we’d previously guessed was physically possible. 

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli was an instant fan. “I know when something makes sense, and what he says makes sense to me,” he said, while ANC MP Andrew Madella said he’d be buying Noakes’s book. 

A Banting diet for politicians? If that’s the case we have to go way beyond carbs and sugar. What else are our politicians intolerant of, I wonder?

Jacob Zuma and public money go together like bangers and mash, except with more heartburn. Our president has a particular talent with other people’s money. Give it to him and watch it disappear! The Mail & Guardian previously revealed an audit report which showed how Zuma burned through R7-million of other people’s money, including over R1-million from Nelson Mandela, between 1995 and 2006. 

But by 2009 Zuma has access to a much larger purse. Ours. Cue lavish upgrades to his personal residence using public money. If I could ask Noakes for one favour it would be a personal Banting diet for Zuma that would cut out processed carbs, refined sugar and access to any money whatsoever. He would be assigned a personal trainer who would actually just be Pravin Gordhan with more power, and who would allocate him spending money every day for items like airtime and Nkandla tuckshop money.

DA leader Helen Zille, meanwhile, should have a special diet banning her from Twitter. I’m amazed none of her advisers have noticed her obvious allergy to the social network yet. Symptoms include being short of breath, growing red in the face and a gradual loss of mental capacity along with strange verbal tics. “Geddit?? Geddit??” she’ll screech again and again when she’s had one of her many torturous late night binges on the network. 

It’s generally an incredibly ugly sight for the rest of us to see. Sure Helen is ace on a bicycle, and probably eats generally healthy but it’s all for naught given her unhealthy social media addiction. For the love of Twitter peace, Professor Noakes, take her phone away from her. 

There are so many other unique intolerances among our political elite. Winnie Mandela is clearly allergic to Parliament, Numsa can no longer stomach the ANC and Tony Yengeni is allergic to the truth

In fact, forget Tim Noakes. I’m declaring myself the next revolutionary in the business of telling people what’s good for them ... though I’m guessing it’ll be a long wait for my invitation from Parliament to arrive in the post.

Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay

Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.  Read more from Verashni Pillay

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