I was finishing work on a client’s end of year review when Jeremy Vine announced that today he’d be covering the subject of diets.
Do they work or are they just a monumental waste of time, he pondered?
Don’t worry, Jezza wasn’t paying us a visit at the office or anything. In standard workplace fashion, he was being piped in via the medium of BBC Radio 2 when he gave us the lowdown about the afternoon’s debate; a soothing background accompaniment to the rumblings of five PRs and a microwave (this was lunchtime after all).
The subject piqued my interest because, rather predictably, I began 2019 with the whimsical notion that I’d be able to curb my appetite for sugar, lard and other unnecessary junk by combining a calorie counting app, with occasional starvation and abject misery.
I’m probably what most would consider a yo-yo dieter, meaning that I spend a good portion of my life either contemplating being on a diet, stuffing my face unacceptable amounts, or writing down everything I eat and ruining food for myself altogether.
This time around, I’ve opted to give 5:2 a run for its money. For the past few months prior to Christmas I’d been increasingly unhappy with not being able to fit into some of my favourite dresses, so I’ve chosen to cut back instead of throwing out half of my best clothes (that and I can’t afford to replace them).
My ever-thoughtful grandfather’s comment of, “Eating again?” as I tucked into a buffet at my nephew’s 8th birthday party didn’t help matters.
The concept of 5:2 in a nutshell comes from intermittent fasting. You restrict your calorie intake to 25% of your daily allowance for two out of seven days per week, whilst eating ‘normally’ on your off days. For women this means you’re living on 500 calories for two days per week; think a Tesco meal deal that must last for an entire day (that’s a sandwich, a bag of crisps/chips and a drink, for anyone outside of the UK).
On the other days you can eat ‘what you like’, although I have my doubts that the creators of the diet meant this with any real sincerity. By the time I’ve completed a fasting day what I’d like is to chain eat a multi pack of Snickers without fear of reprisals from my skinny jeans; but instead I’m opting for 12-1300 calories on my non-fasting days.
In case anyone’s interested, today’s fasting day consisted of the following foods:
- Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
- Bag of leaves
- 3x falafels
- An omelette with one slice of cheese (cooked in, not on the side…I’m not insane)
- A second coffee
- 3x glasses of water
I’m boring myself already…let’s move on…
The Jeremy Vine debate wasn’t anything spectacular or ground-breaking. Any woman who’s ever tried to watch their calorie intake knows full well that the question, ‘Is this a load of bollocks?’ dances through your brain at least once or twice a day.
The real crux of the debate seemed to be whether diets are sustainable in the long-term, which of course they’re not. We know they’re not, despite how much we’d love to believe the opposite is true.
A diet is what we tell ourselves we should be doing when we know we can’t trust ourselves to eat like normal humans. In a hunter gatherer society, where catching our food required more than a short drive to Lidl, this wasn’t even an issue. The concept of women in ancient civilisations measuring their busts or counting out the number of seeds they could eat in one sitting is utter insanity.
So why do we put ourselves through this?
The truth of it is that convenience and longer/sporadic working hours have created a culture of instant gratification, with media focus on celebrity and perfection lingering in the background to kick us in the balls when we overstep the mark and begin to enjoy ourselves.
Even though I’m totally buying into this nonsense with my foray into 5:2 and will continue with it until I’m comfortable in my jeans again, I have noticed that the older I get, the more I’m starting to accept a few fundamental truths about food, diets and body image.
- If I’m not drinking melted butter through a straw, I’m not as gluttonous as I think
- Fat or thin, if you have no personality, it doesn’t mean shit
- The best thing you can do as a woman is to put down the crap magazines, pick up a mirror, and be thankful that you even have a face to scrutinise
- One day (as depressing as I’m sure this is for all who know me) I won’t be here. So, if I spend some of my remaining time savouring the fact that I’m alive, and lucky enough to be able to live in a society where access to food is unending, then what’s the harm?
I’m going to sign off now and let my omelette digest but hope this post has given you some food for thought, or at the very least made you as hungry as I am so you can feel my pain.
In case anyone was wondering, the other segment on Jeremy Vine was about doggers bothering joggers; everyone’s favourite lunchtime debate.
If you don’t know what dogging is, Wikipedia is your friend.
Image credit: Featured Photograph – Mike Lawn/Rex/Shutterstock