Those in search of a healthy lifestyle are going mad for spiralizing this year.
The health fad involves no crazy gym class where you are forced to severely punish yourself on an exercise bike by a screaming gym instructor – this is the much easier and simpler practice of turning vegetables into pasta.
Using a spiralizing machine, you can turn your vegetables into spirals, tubes, linguine, noodles, capellini or spaghetti in around one minute. It removes many of the less fun aspects of cooking, like boiling water and draining the pasta when it's done. Instead you can indulge your childish intrigue by watching whole vegetables being transformed into a variety of shapes.
It is lower in calories than normal pasta – from a normal bowl of wheat spaghetti you might consume 221 calories, compared to 42 calories from a bowl of spiralized courgettes. The vegetables also add more vitamins and minerals to your diet than normal pasta, and the high fibre helps prevent digestive problems.
So popular has the trend become that spiralizers, costing around £30 each, can now be purchased from retailers like Selfridges. Websites have been set up in dedication to the dieting fad, including Inspiralized.com, which was set up by a blogger who quit her normal job in search of spiralized perfection.
There are those who claim it can't completely trick your body into feeling like it has consumed a filling bowl of actual pasta – they say you can be left feeling unsatisfied and still hungry. But nonetheless, its a good way to cut the calories and pack in some of your five-a-day if that's what you're after.
Fat is not the enemy
Another technique to have hit the dieting world by storm recently is “banting”.
It goes against one of the main rules of good health we were taught as children – that you shouldn't consume too much fat. According to the banting diet, you should pack in the fat (particularly animal fat) but avoid sugar and carbohydrates at all costs.
The perfect meal would consist of a very fatty cut of meat and some light vegetables (no potatoes). This is not a high protein diet, however – it's more important to eat up all the fat than the actual meat.
It has gained popularity after going out of fashion for a while, but this is in fact no new dieting method - it was used as a standard treatment for weight loss in all the major European and North American medical schools for nearly 100 years until the 1960s.
Its basis is that our desire for sugar is nothing more than an addiction, and so fruit should be avoided. It also says grains are bad for you, so foods like pasta, bread and potatoes are not allowed.
The purported benefits are weight loss and increased energy levels, better sleep patterns and mood, and lower hunger levels.
Bowl of lard and courgette spaghetti, anyone?