I'm on a diet. Not right now as I've just bought an enormous pack of Tangy Cheese Doritos for 99p. But I'll be back on The Diet once I've finished the bag and the feelings of self-loathing set in.
A few days before I went to Spain with The Hobo, he was sending me happy texts about his Atkins diet.
Hobo Mob: "I've already lost a stone in 2 weeks!"
Reply: "That's way too much too soon. Be careful!"
Hobo Mob: "It's the way forward!"
Reply: "No it isn't. Nothing compares to sensible eating and exercise."
I was worried for him. What if this huge weight loss was muscle and not fat? It didn't sound healthy.
The good Doctor?
I'm something of a diet expert. From the age of eight til I was eighteen, I was the fattest kid in my first school, and second fattest in my second. I lost all my weight when I left home for University before piling back the pounds on my return, then losing it again, then going up, then going down... you get the picture. To me, dieting isn't rocket science. You simply consume fewer calories than your body burns. The trouble is the inexorable dullness of it all.
What The Hobo was extolling made no sense. It was the Antichrist of diets. He ate more fat. He had fried breakfasts every morning. He just reduced his carb intake, that's all. When we got to Spain, I saw how much weight Hobo had lost. He lent me The Hungry Years by William Leith.
Leith was a fat, depressed journalist. Ironically, he's got a great job but he wasn't particularly happy with his life. He was the fattest he'd ever been. He drank too much. He over-consumed. The two things that struck me about the book was that Leith seemed as skeptical about Atkins as I was. Even by the end of the book, he's not exactly lauding it as humanity's only hope. Secondly, Leith mentions a hostility within the food industry towards low-carb diets. He called it a conspiracy.
Carbs. I think I miss them. I can't be sure.
Now I hate conspiracy theories. I think they're the manifestations of living in a paranoid state. But Leith made some sense with his contention that food producers benefit from low-fat as they simply introduce different versions of their products.
Carbohydrates are a different story. They're found in bread, beans, pasta, potatoes, biscuits, etc. You can't make low-carb versions of these foodstuffs any more than you can make low-milk milk. Put simply, flour producers and big farming companies hate low-carb. If we all cut out the carbs, they'd all die on their arses. Add to that the conspiracy angle, that they lobby governments and set up their own research institutes to promote low-fat and decry low-carb, and you have a diet I was curious about.
And it still doesn't make sense. I've been following a vague low-carb diet for a couple of weeks now, starting each day by melting some butter and frying myself bacon, sausages and eggs, a breakfast I'd never eat daily in a million, erm, days, yet I'm losing weight like its going out of fashion. I'm also sated more often. And like William Leith describes, it's a strange sensation. You get bored, you think about food, and you realise you're not hungry. But it is a Sunday evening in September and the sun is setting a lot earlier. So naturally I bought those Doritos. I just had to have them. I needed to feel momentarily happy.
And that's the fucking problem, I self-medicate with shit food. On Friday and Saturday nights, it's booze and fags too. I don't think it's spiralling out of control. I've pretty much always done this but it's hard to break a habit of a lifetime. As William Leith advises, over-eating is merely the symptom. Try to discover what the cause is.
My flatmate Pete had an answer: I need an Activity Partner. Preferrably with big tits.
Technically, that would be him.