that’s why tums go to Iceland

Whilst I lie here plucking fitfully at my duvet and bemoaning my tonsils, I’ve been reading Slimming World’s facebook page and their recent announcement that they plan to produce ready meals and sell them through Iceland in the New Year. That’s Iceland as in the arse-and-eyelid sausages purveyor rather than the country – think what a trek that would be if you wanted a watery shepherds pie. You’d certainly get your platinum body magic award, and I’m sure hákarl (fermented shark, pissed on and left to ferment) (as the tale goes) is syn free. Delicious!

This move has proved divisive, with two camps forming on either side of the argument – one who believes that this is the beginning of the end for Slimming World’s core values, moving away from ‘fresh, home-cooked food’ into over-processed crap ala Weight Watchers that’ll get pushed at you via the classes in the manner of those persistent chuggers everyone crosses the street to avoid. The other side think it’s a great idea – having a few ready-meals in the freezer means that, at the end of a busy day, you can chuck something syn-free in the oven and not have to worry about your diet.

I can see the argument about Slimming World moving away from its core values – it’s always been drummed into me that SW is about healthy eating, making recipes from scratch, enjoying fresh meals with lots of taste and flavour. That’s surely still the case. What the ready meals do is provide an option ‘on the side’ – if you get stuck, they are there as a back-up. I imagine most people do what I do, which is cook for four people, divide three portions between the two of us and stick the fourth in the freezer (then generally go back ten minutes later and pick at it). If they changed the plan to say that in order to lose weight, you’d have to eat at least one ready meal a day, I could understand the discord – that’s ridiculous. But if the plan remains the same and this is something you can incorporate if you choose to, then I really see no problem.

Another argument I’ve seen is that this is a terrible idea as the meals will be over-processed, full of nonsense food and salt. Absolutely. But then so are Pasta ‘n’ Sauces, and mugshots, and Muller yoghurts, and curly-wurlys, and those god-awful pumice-stone-meets-aspartame Hi-Fi bars they sell in class. Unless you prepare every single meal from stuff you’ve butchered yourself or grown in your garden, arguing about ready meals being over-processed is a fallacy.

Howver, perhaps the most hilarious reaction to this whole debacle is from the braying masses who find the fact it is Iceland selling the ready-meals to be the most objectionable part. I’ve seen many, many posts with this weird snobbery attached and one exclaiming that ‘if SW had partnered up with Waitrose this would have been a great thing’, as if Waitrose ready-meals come with someone to prick the cellophane on the top with a golden fork, press the microwave button with a velvet glove and then wipe your taint clean eight hours later. I shop at Waitrose and I’m as common as muck. That side of the argument is truly ridiculous – a ready meal in Waitrose is going to be as full of crap, preservatives, cheap bits of meat and salt as a one in Iceland, only you might have Heston Bloominghell plastered across the front like a smirking egg.

So, because my Sudafed is kicking in and I’m about to go to a blue-sky paradise, let me say this. I’m all for it. More choice on a diet of restriction can only be a good thing. Those bleating about it diluting Slimming World’s core ideal, just don’t buy the product. If it doesn’t sell, they’ll stop, and if they do sell, it shows there is a market for it. If your problem is that the meals will be full of nonsense, then don’t buy it. And finally, if your problem is that it is Iceland rather than Waitrose or Sainsburys, then have a bloody word with yourself.