Health kicks are all-or-nothing endeavours.
Similar to the furious puffing of the remainder of a pack of 20 before giving up day, a carob bar future is often preceded by a bacon buttie fest.
And whilst it is perfectly possible to buy whole foods from Morrisons, only a health food shop can provide total experience immersion (like a float tank but without the water).
Paradoxically, you have to be healthy to enter one. Sifting through birdseed, with flu, makes you feel like a failure in life, especially when all you can think about is cinnamon whirls.
Worse, buying a wheatgrass shot with a hangover puts you on an equal footing with the vagrant hugging his orange juice, in the queue at Tesco.
Health food is a mission statement. It says, ‘I know I’ve been pickling my liver. I promise to be a better person. Look, I said I’m sorry. Just leave it, will you?’
People who work in these shops can sense you galumphing down the road towards them, dragging your toxins to stand side-by-side with their fully-functioning digestive systems.
They know you are a health food tourist because your jacket is from Gap and there is no spelt flour in your basket. You take Nurofen when you have a headache and have no flexibility whatsoever. They can intuit the memory of a Double Decker on you.
They’ve seen it all before.
They may have the smiles of religious leaders and wear clothes that wouldn’t scare a donkey in the wild, but their gluten-free heads are nurturing bilious thoughts.
As soon as you appear in the doorway they guffaw at your blow-dried hair and think your t-shirt should say, ‘I am a plastic bag’ on the back.
Because you want all the facings in your cupboard to reflect the new you, a member of each food group must be represented in your wicker basket: a muddy carrot; some hand-reared cheese; the reconstruction of a meat-product using mung beans; a crispy snack with NONE OF THE DEVIL’S WHEAT; a ‘Choose Life!’ energy bar; and something sprouting, that might strangle your purse on the way home.
Then to balance all this sacrifice, a little reward in the form of a botanical plant cosmetic product, that only the wives of cosmetic surgeons can afford.
With the pain barrier broken and a mountain of miscellaneous niche items, comes an unexpected feeling: you belong.
This is exciting! I want it to start right now!
So before you can say ‘3-day fad’ a carrot and houmous wrap is being liberated from the refrigerator, along with a slice of densely compressed sardine tins, coated in sparrow spittle, which has become uncertain of its relationship to pudding.
Otherwise known as The Treat That Is Not A Treat.
Otherwise known as vegan carrot cake.
And off you trot smugly chowing down on your morally superior take-away lunch.
This is actually quite delicious, you think on the first bite. This isn’t as bad as I was expecting. Why haven’t I done this before?
But it isn’t long before your tastebuds are asking questions:
‘Hold on a minute, is there any butter in here? I don’t taste any butter…Where’s the cheese? Isn’t there any cheese in here? Whoaaa, what the $%£ was that? A pumpkin seed? Am I in the throat of a rodent?’
Until finally the full horror of the gastronomic assault finally pulls you to a hault in the street, to contemplate the inscription on your gravestone:
Here lies Mumbo.
Bred on cream-cakes,
Bored to death by a wrap.
Luckily, there is a chap in the resurrection business.
He’s a baker and his name is Gregg.