If one of your New Year promises is to ditch the rich food there’s no need to cancel your dinner reservation, says Melissa Blease. Bath is packed with wholesome alternatives.

If you’re dashing headlong into January with a resolution to lead a healthier lifestyle, then you’re not alone – far from it. A recent NHS survey found that more than 80% of us will start 2018 resolving to eat less food, drink less alcohol and do more exercise.

But, of course, those classic resolutions are hardly news. Whether its Atkins or Dukan, Weight Watchers or the F-plan there’s always a new diet lurking just around the corner.

Years ago going on a diet meant saying goodbye to restaurant meals until the requisite number of pounds had been shed. At which point, one’s new shape could be celebrated with a double portion of lasagna and three slices of Black Forest gateau, after which the whole soul-destroying feast or famine cycle began again. But our preoccupation with fad diets is finally on the wane and being replaced with an everything in moderation mantra. Suddenly no food really is off-limits.

Blazing the trail in Bath, Dough Pizza has revolutionized our pizza perceptions, offering base options like gluten-free, seaweed, multi grain, turmeric and Venus black rice and representing a selection that’s not only tasty, but brings all manner of easy-to-digest health benefits to the party too. The multigrain, for example, combines the sweetness of natural grains with the crunch of sesame and pumpkin seeds; the seaweed contains spirulina; the hemp is laden with omega-3 and omega-6.

More than ever before, meat is no longer an everyday menu must-have, nor considered a treat to indulge in when eating out. While 12% of us do indeed eschew meat and fish altogether, thousands more identify themselves as flexitarian (those who are substantially cutting back on the amount of meat they eat) and trend-forecasters predict that flexitarianism is set to rise drastically in 2018.

There’s plenty of places for meat-avoiders to have a tasty meal in Bath from Beyond the Kale and Green Rocket Café to Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen and The Chapel Arts Café. And now The Beaufort – formerly one of Bath’s most popular Sunday roast hotspots – underwent a total revamp at the end of 2017, rebranding as Nourish, a vegan pub serving up tasty dishes like walnut, red pepper and cashew lasagna.

“Our preoccupation with fad diets is finally on the wane and being replaced with an everything in moderation mantra . . .”

Bath’s coolest chefs in more traditional kitchens are increasingly putting plant-based options on their social media feeds. Topping Bath’s Instagram charts last month was the vegan bread selection available at Dan Moon at the Gainsborough Restaurant and the King William’s vegan falafel.

Cutting down on food waste is increasingly as much of a priority as cutting down on waist size. Every year we throw away a shocking 13 billion pounds of food in the UK. New Vietnamese restaurant, Noya’s on St James Parade is championing the supper club format in part because it’s so effective in reducing the amount of food thrown in the bin.

We’re also becoming far more aware of exactly what’s in our food. The National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence estimates that 45% of us have developed intolerances to certain foods over the past decade. A range of hypotheses abound about why these figures are so high, but in the main, it seems that environmental pollutants, intensive farming practices and over-use of additives all have an impact. Beetroot quinoa, goats curd, apple and sorrel at Dan Moon at the Gainsborough Restaurant

Deciphering the ingredients on the menu was once an almost impossible task, but post 2014, restaurants are required by law to list any ingredients used in their kitchens that are known to trigger allergies, including nuts, gluten, milk and soya. As a result, restaurants today, from fast food outlets to fine dining emporiums, use simple shorthand to let us all know exactly what we can – and can’t – expect to find on our plate.

And that is what healthy eating should really be all about: intelligent choices, eschewing restaurants that don’t offer a clear outline of their sourcing policies and an awareness of the impact our food has on both ourselves and the world around us.

A healthy diet is for life after all, not just for the New Year.

Learn the Lingo

V: vegetarian
VG: vegan
GF: gluten-free (but not necessarily prepared in a gluten-free environment)
C: suitable for coeliacs.
DF: dairy-free
N: contains nuts
GMO: genetically modified organism

Featured image: one of the delicious dishes available at Noya’s Kitchen