Every time I read about a new diet (which is all too often), my eyes glaze over. The idea of eating cabbage soup and farting myself thinner just doesn’t appeal. Nor does quaffing Maple Syrup, eating endless Pineapple, or trying the Toothpaste diet (yes, I promise such a thing exists) or indeed any other repetitive, irresponsible or even downright dangerous regime. We have all been advised endless times that there is no magic pill that will melt the pounds off and make us whiplash thin, so why do we keep searching for one? Laziness I suppose. Lack of self control? Come on scientists… zero calorie Mars Bars would be an excellent project.
Like most people, I have tried a few things – juice fasting, eating only raw food – even the medically supervised regime at the Mayr Clinic in Austria where, if we were lucky, we ate very bland root vegetables and stale bread (amounting to a massive 300 calories per day); quite a lot of the guests at this famous weight loss clinic ate nothing at all, thereby giving their digestive systems a well deserved rest. None of these detoxes included eating dinner, so the evenings were very boring and seemingly endless. But, I did lose an impressive amount of blubber – which, before you ask, stayed off for ages. Well, until I picked up my wine glass in earnest again and raided the chocolate cupboard on an all too regular basis. Which is where I find myself now, half a stone overweight and with only one pair of jeans I can squeeze into without my eyes watering. Although I was sorely tempted to book myself onto the new detox week that Grayshott Spa are currently promoting, I can’t really justify it as I’ve already spent a couple of glorious days there this year, so I am going to have to exercise some self control at home… but can I trust myself?
Then I read about 5-2 intermittent fasting. Featured in an article by Dr Michael Mosley in the Telegraph last August, the idea is to eat normally for five days, then limit yourself to 500 cals (600 for men) for two non-consecutive 24 hour periods a week.This intermittent fasting regime seems to embody all the principles I have come to believe actually work from the various detoxes I have experienced but, more importantly, I genuinely believe I can do this one from the comfort of my own home. And that’s a first for me. And for husband, who has decided to join me in my quest for slimness. We’ve decided to start our twice-weekly fasts at 2pm and end them at 1pm the next day, Mondays and Thursdays. As we often go without breakfast (as Joanna Lumley says – “why wake up Annie appetite?”) I have high hopes this new lifestyle will actually work for us.
So, the big day arrived, the first day of fasting. Son arrived home from work (he’s stick thin and always hungry) and so I had no option but to grill him a pork chop – the boy’s got to eat and it is my maternal duty, but I wasn’t best pleased to be cooking my favourite food without any hope of eating it. Husband got back from commute and promptly uncorked a bottle. “Hey! What are you doing? Let me make you some fresh lemon dunked in hot water darling” “Look,” he retorted instantly ” I don’t mind not eating so long as I can have my glass of wine.” Not wanting to rock the boat, I kept stum – even when I caught him red handed stuffing Indian maize snacks into his mouth. On the positive side, he was keen to find something to do to take his mind off (what he called) fasting, and so we had a few games of backgammon. Then we sat on sofa, rather glumly watching TV, sipping our watery miso soup and trying to be brave.
On the plus side, I felt holier than thou the next morning and found I could quite easily wait until lunchtime before eating again. Now I am really looking forward to dropping a few pounds, especially after Marvellous Mother in Law came round for coffee the other day and, with a casual wave of her hand, dismissed my idea of treating myself to some de-wrinkling Botox, saying “Oh God no. You definitely need to lose some weight first”. That stung, but then the truth often does. So, every time I falter when fasting, I recall those words and, do you know what, it spurs me on. And I like eating my food slowly – it gives you time to really appreciate the taste and texture of what you are eating. This 5:2 lifestyle diet gets the thumbs up from me especially as I can still indulge in my one weakness – a small skinny latte (or two) every morning. They say our stomachs will shrink and that we will want less on feast days…but, in case that doesn’t work for us, I am on the hunt for low calories recipes that are high on taste like Chicken with Parmesan and Fennel by Xanthe Clay (who appeared at the Henley Literary Festival on the same day as us). Annabel and her husband are also fans of 5:2 – I’m looking forward to hearing how they have got on…
The Fast Diet by Dr Michael Mosley & Mimi Spencer:
Lastly, just wanted to say I agree with Annabel about 2012 not getting off to the most auspicious of starts – more rain, Mali, unhappy friends. Just had a text from Marvellous-Mother-In-Law who was due to go on her first flight in ten years and has been fretting about it for weeks as she is not at all keen on flying. She tells me the plane had two abortive landings due to fog at Innsbruck and has now landed at Munich airport and is sitting on the runway. She and the rest of the passengers are now waiting to hear whether they are to disembark and take a bus to Innsbruck or fly back to Gatwick! Talk about a baptism of fire!