It’s the post-Silly Season silly season again. Everyone is giving up booze, sugar, wheat, dairy, meat, fat, carbohydrates, fruit, salt, calories and food itself.
By next Christmas, we’ll be in peak physical condition. Also, that novel will be written; we’ll have travelled to the ashram; we’ll have parachuted, swum with dolphins, climbed Kilimanjaro for charity; we’ll know how to meditate; we’ll have run that half-marathon; we’ll awaken well-slept before sunrise; we’ll be growing our own vegetables; we’ll have clutter-free homes and cooked-from-scratch Ottolenghi meals.
But mostly, we’re going to be thin. And every magazine, newspaper, and targeted advert on social media is telling us how to get there. Naturally, I’m devouring them all, looking for that magic bullet to jettison the five extra kilos that have somehow morphed into 10 – preferably by March.
Apparently we should stand up every 20 minutes, eat within an eight-hour window, eat alone because we consume more in company, develop a “neutral” relationship with all food – yes, even Nutella – and never eat bananas.
And then I read one article that stopped me short: a 53-year-old diet guru with a PhD in nutrition promoting her no-diet diet book, whippet-thin in leather jeans, talking about how to lose the flab for good without calorie-counting, without exercise, while eating three square meals a day.
Fine, until I read deeper, because it turns out she hasn’t eaten a biscuit this century. Not one. Nor has she had a drink, not even a cheeky glass of fizz to welcome in the year.
Her diet plan is very low in carbs – no pasta, no sourdough, no fun – while high in leafy green veg and protein.
She may look fabulous but, by God, would you want to be stuck talking to her at a party, feeling like an alcoholic with your glass of chardonnay, while in your clenched fist a hidden sausage roll slowly grows salmonella?
And you know what? Being whippet-thin requires laser-beam levels of focus and self-denial, plus a basic distrust of eating.
So I’m going back to my old-fashioned weight-loss group, because throughout all my bigger-smaller years the only thing that ever worked is that weekly accountability, coupled with people who actually enjoy their food.