10 Fad diets
It shouldn’t be so difficult. Everything you’ve ever learned about nutrition and wellbeing suggests that healthy eating will make you live longer, feel better, look better and basically be better. On the other hand, chocolate, cheese and probably chocolate on cheese, tastes really good. So, you convince yourself that a specialist diet will help you. Before you know it, you’re following the latest fad that dictates you can only eat meals you can prepare left-handed, foods with a single vowel, dishes that can be served in an egg cup or whatever the latest fashion is.
9 Expert help
Knowing that you’re ill-equipped to do this on your own, it’s common to hire a professional for support. Personal trainers and dieticians are just an expensive way to remind yourself that chain eating an entire box of doughnuts in an afternoon won’t help you slim into a swimsuit. It would be more cost-effective to pay a personal intern to come and slap the ice cream spoon out of your mouth every time you reach across for a pity scoop.
8 Friends are foes
Don’t expect support from friends. It would be cynical to suggest that they want you to stay chubby, but there is no denying that they’re always standing quietly by with a family-sized bag of candy and a jug of cream whenever your resolve is waning. Somehow, they manage to never put on an ounce, despite the fact that you once saw them eat an entire turkey and know for a fact that they sometimes have gravy in their water bottle at work.
7 Becoming an expert
Whatever stage of a diet you’re on – be it new and enthusiastic or jaded and deceitful – you’ll have developed a scientific understanding of every food. You’ll know the calorie content and number of minutes on a treadmill required to burn off the effects of every morsel. You won’t see a bowl of nachos and molten cheese, just a figure that says you’ll need to run a marathon to cancel that out.
6 Cheat days
You haven’t experienced true terror until you’ve stood between a committed dieter and a takeaway pizza on cheat day. The idea of a cheat day is that it’s a little reward for all the hard work of only eating like a normal human being for a few days, and it’s the opportunity to eat a weekend’s worth of calories in just a few hours.
Of course, temptations don’t wait until cheat day to rear their tasty, caramel-topped heads. A dieter presented with an opportunity to slip up (probably on a noodle bowl, when chasing a food truck) has a few options. They can stay good and decline the calories, they can self-justify by eating, but promising future abstention and extra exercise or, and we’ve all been there, secret-eat and deny it later.
4 New foods
It’s only after a few weeks of detoxing and dieting that you accept that healthy eating doesn’t have to be a chore. Kale need not be your enemy, broccoli is a joy, decaf coffee is not terrib… sorry, we may have gone too far this time.
3 Feel good
Stick with the diet and you will see results. Perhaps not if it’s a fad that encourages extreme changes. But, if you stick to recommended amounts of food groups and eat in moderation, you will feel so much better than the days you started with a triple cheeseburger and fries. More energy, better skin, less lethargy are all decent trades for not scoffing as much, surely?
With all that extra energy, you’ll need a new outlet. The time you spent baking cakes could be transferred across to time in the gym. Push-ups not pastries, cardio not carbs, sweat not sweets, weights not wafers.
On the other hand, scones with dollops of cream, deep-fried cheese balls in chilli batter, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, extra-large helpings of spaghetti and meatballs with a side of garlic bread with extra cheese on top, an ice cream sundae with all the toppings, shawarmas at 3am, a box of sweets brought in by a work colleague. Do we need to go on?
Will Milner is a contributing editor. He just tried chocolate on cheese. He says it was good.