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Like a lot people I know, and doubtless many that I don't, I am trying to lose weight after the holiday binge.

The effect of this is that I am actually paying some attention to the food value of what I eat. This has been enlightening.

Apart from the depressing but obvious knowledge gained that almost all my favorite foods (chocolate, cake, wine, cheese etc.) are laden with enough calories to feed an army let alone me, I was astounded, upon reading the label, to discover that the humble pickle that I enjoy fairly frequently has essentially no food value whatsoever.

Indeed, I might as well drink a cup of mildly salty water as consume a pickle spear that offers only a measly 5 calories of energy.

I was shocked to read this. Somehow, I had always imagined pickles to contain the calorific muscle of their frequent companions, a hamburger and an order of french fries or chips (crisps). No rational reason for that – simply by association. But no. Just a salty remnant of a calorie deprived cucumber is all it is. I find this information a bit deflating, as if I discovered Superman's costume was covering an anorexic.

Perhaps I will get used to it.