January is, we’re told, the most depressing month of the year. People think it’s because it’s cold, dark and damp that we’re all so blue. And, of course, it doesn’t help that we’re all staring at huge debts and bellies after the Christmas splurge. But I think it’s got a lot more to do with the fact that we’re all trying to diet – and diets set us up to fail, and there’s nothing like failure to make us feel lousy.
I actually quite like January – it is the month of my birthday and my husband’s birthday, too. So there’s a lot of celebrating going on. I started a few days before mine, with lunch at Galvin at Windows (top floor of the London Hilton) with one of my best friends who also has a January birthday.
On the birthday itself Steve and I ate out at Gymkhana. Amazing! Go there - and eat the rose scented knicker bocker glory! I did. And then, a few days later, I ate the lion’s share of Indian sweets at another celebratory dinner with family.
After that, I decided drastic measures were needed. I’d missed a day of the 5:2 – a friend had come round with a bottle of Chablis and a box of chocolates and Steve had produced halibut with roasted vegetables followed by a stinky cheese platter.
So, this weekend, I thought I’d go back to trying the Harcombe Diet – which promises exponential weight loss, while NOT counting calories.
The catch is that you cannot eat any processed food, any fruit, cheese, milk, or any carbs (except for 50g raw weight of brown rice daily) for the first five days. Sometimes three days will be enough to kick start the regime. This baptism of fire phase is supposed to root out and eliminate issues like candida that cause us to crave all the foods to which we are addicted and which make us overweight.
It is an interesting diet. I managed days 1 and 2 without straying from the rules beyond a few (forbidden) salted almonds each day.
I was pleased with myself. Zoe Harcombe, author of the diet, says: “your body will come up with all sorts of excuses why you need to eat certain things – you don’t!” I ignored all those cravings. But it was hard. Amazingly, when carbs are this limited, I find myself stomach churningly hungry even after a massive chicken and ham omelette, or a lamb and pea keema.
So it was that, today, I slipped – and started thinking about those chocolates that Mary brought me. “Just one little chocolate” my cravings told me. “Just one little chocolate”.
Instead I had two ultra thin rice cakes with butter – not on the “allowed” list but not sugar either.
Then I had another one.
Then I ate the last two chocolate mint crisps from Christmas. And quickly shovelled one of Mary’s soft centres into my mouth for afters.
So – I have failed a diet that is extraordinarily hard not to fail.
And now I will feel like January is a depressing month. And I will have to do a 5:2 day or two so I can wear my favourite new clothes for our next blow out for Steve’s birthday next week…