Saturday, 26 March 2011

In which I invent a new diet

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I know there is marching on the streets of London, and rebels taking government strongholds in Libya, and mounting unrest in Syria, and mourning in Japan. But forget that: I have invented a DIET. Hold the front page, baby.

Remember that great moment in The Big Chill, where Jeff Goldblum is on the telephone with the longest cord in the world, trying to pitch his editor an idea for a story? Jeff is busking it. He says:

'Hope, hope, where did our hope go. It's about lost hope'.


'Yeah, well you think everything is boring. You wouldn't say that if it was the Lost Hope Diet.'

I actually hate diets. I disapprove of them on political and utilitarian grounds. They make lovely women feel inadequate, and they almost never work. If they did work, the Diet Industry would not be making millions, and a new stupid diet book would not come out each week, to bore us into catatonia. As Sarah and I said, rather dogmatically, in Backwards, the only thing that works is to eat a little less and move around a little more, but you can't make money out of that.

I often think, in a giving perspective rather than a morbid way, of one's deathbed. I can guarantee that when you are breathing your last, you will not be saying: thank God I never ate any carbohydrates. I am a proud size fourteen, and I shall not be moved.

However, even at my most hardline, I do admit there are times when everyone, men and women both, would like to shift half a stone. It's not a question of body hatred, but of feeling a little lighter, especially as the weather gets milder and thoughts of spring abound. I did that exact thing this week, without even trying.

I call it the Deadline Panic Diet. Because I took last week off, naughtily, I had to work twice as hard this week. I read five books, took five thousand words of notes, wrote four thousand words of actual book, and thought of almost nothing else. Because of this, I did not have time, in the day, for cooking proper meals, and was too tired in the evening. But I needed strength, and protein. So I found myself simply slapping a steak on the grill pan, and having it with garlic butter, or poaching a piece of salmon and eating it with mayonnaise. I had bacon for breakfast. In the evening, I had smoked mackerel fillets, or salt and pepper prawns, or tuna sashimi. There was no time for even salad (all that chopping), let alone side vegetables. In order not to get scurvy, I made a huge pot of my newly invented tomato and beetroot soup (recipe here), which happily lasted the week, and made sure all the food groups were represented.

I do not weigh myself much, but I had happened to get on the scales on Monday. I stepped on them this morning, and was amazed to find that half a stone had simply gone. I had felt no consciousness of deprivation, or even trying to diet in any way. I had made myself a big pot of popcorn with salt and olive oil on Tuesday, and naughtily bought scampi and chips from the van in the village on Friday. I still took sugar in my pitch-black morning coffee. But the essence of the week had been protein and soup.

So there we are, my darlings. In the spirit of public service broadcasting: that is what you do if you need to get into a slightly too-tight frock. Do not spend your hard-earned cash on Durkin or Murkin or whatever his name is; you can get it here for free.

And now for your Saturday photographs.

It was a day of clouds and sudden sun; the colours were singing:





Those were all taken within ten minutes of each other. See how the light shifts even in that short time?

Everything in the garden is suddenly bursting into leaf, as if they got a memo saying Grow, GROW:




But you can see that the bare winter tangle is still there:


My current favourite tree is that silvery one that you see each day in the foreground of the hill shot. Today, I went to examine it up close. To my absolute amazement, I found this:



I'm not sure I ever saw that on a tree before. This one is not on my normal walk, so I have only ever watched it from a distance. All the time, it was putting out incredible catkins.

Ladyships, in all their outrageous beauty:


(The Duchess has her 'seen it all before' face on, which makes me laugh.)



Today's hill is lost in the white sky:


Have a lovely weekend. And for my readers in Blighty, don't forget the clocks go forward tomorrow. I usually do.


  1. I love your take on diets as a rule and like to hear it again. It was a blast of joy when I was getting quite cross today (people saying mean thing about protestors today when my mum was among them along with her copy of the guardian and packed lunch for the whole family)now I feel once more like the world is lovely and am glad I am making time to read your blog again (I lapsed due to busyness I am afraid).

  2. Siobhan - welcome back and thank you for the lovely comment. Smiling at the thought of yr mum with her packed lunch.

  3. You got a load of work done, stayed healthy AND lost weight!!!
    WOW! Well done!

  4. I love the diet! I am very overweight and never seem to lose an ounce!

    By the way why have you stopped talking about the cricket??? Sorry to say that England got thrashed by Sri Lanka two days ago. The batting was so so, but the bowling sucked!! We are having world cup fever in this country with the first semi final in Colombo Sri Lanka vs New Zealand. I am always disappointed that the NZ's do not do a haka like for the rugby.

  5. Dear Tania, I don't believe in diets either. As soon as I'm told I can't eat carbs I want them. I've done the same as you and lost weight without trying. I find the vegetable juice I make fills me up. I've always eaten really well, I'm the last person to get an eating disorder.

    I could live on soup. I shall be giving your recipe a go, it sounds lovely xx


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