As a twenty four year old woman in a society where the pressure to look 'thin' or 'skinny' is omnipresent, I often think of my relationship to food with the undertone of that great Julia Roberts quote from Notting Hill. You know the one - she's sitting around the dinner table with Hugh Grant's overly quintessentially 'English' family trying to drum up sympathy in order to score the last brownie, and with her big puppy eyes sighs out a wistful: "I've been on a diet everyday since I was nineteen, which basically means I've been hungry for a decade." Haven't we all, Jules. 


My dieting career started early - circa the time that a 'doctor' at my high school made me unpack my lunchbox in front of him because he didn't believe I wasn't consuming a cow everyday. I was a chubby child, in fact, obese really - and that word, 'obese', tends to make people think that they can pin down the sort of life you lead, and choices you make. There I was, eating healthily, only having a very moderate to conservative allowance of sugars and E-numbers and nasties - treats were for once a week. I looked to my peers, saw them eating worse food than I was and wondered - at 14 years old - what the hell I was doing wrong?! I pined for the gym. Whenever I saw one of the signs saying 'No under 16s permitted' I would curse it silently under my breath.  Why can't I be skinny? I'd whine. The doctor's version of an 'intervention' was the last straw. I regaled the day through sobs to my mum who, graciously and generously, got me a personal trainer. At fourteen. A personal trainer. 

I'm telling you this not because I want to have a little pity party, but because I'm trying to make a point. When I received an email newsletter from Marie Claire last week talking about the 5:2 'fast' diet, and how it was the 'new thing', I started to feel literally queasy.

This comes from a girl who has tried Atkin's, the South Beach diet, Weight Watcher's, even the 'chewing-up-food-and-spitting-it-out' school of thought - I'm no stranger to the dietary fads that come and go. But this diet which actively encourages fasting for two days of the week, whilst eating 'normally' for five? I'm sorry, what? When did purposefully starving yourself - ever - become okay? Moreover, when did it become healthy?!

I understand your 'fasting' days are spread out throughout the week to stop your body from going into shock. And I understand how taking in less calories will, ultimately, result in some sort of weight loss. It's basic maths, I mastered that at school, long before my lunchbox excavations began. What I don't understand, what is actually pretty offensive to me, is that we can now promote fasting and the idea of it as something that is not only desirable, but beneficial to us. Am I the only one that sees the very, very thin and dangerous line people are treading here?

Outside of the fact that publications like Marie Claire are being read by younger and younger girls and everyone has access to the internet where this diet is being thrown around like Taylor Swift's dating habits, there's also the pure fact that diets are horseshit. Excuse my language, but it's true. Quick results are never the ones that last and even if you stick to the 5:2 rule for the rest of your days - your body is an intelligent, evolving being. It will eventually get wise to your tricks and work out what is happening on these 'fasting days'. The likelihood is? It'll think: alright. STOCKPILE TIME. Cue double chin.

Take it from someone who has been there and done that with diets - nothing substitutes the plain old boring stuff that no one wants to hear: good eating habits and sweat. A lot of sweat. Get your body moving, work out, eat healthily and in moderation, and you'll see a difference. It will be slow, and you're not going to wake up looking like Miranda Kerr anytime soon, but it is the. only. way. to make a change sustainably. And that might sound a little dogmatic and a bit tried, but I only say it because I've been there. Maybe I'll have the confidence to write about that whole story one day, but that will be for another time.

Have you ever tried a fad diet? Did you have any success? Are you thinking about taking the 5:2 diet? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

2 comments

  1. I'm so so so glad some one did a blog post on this! No one seems to want to be healthy anymore, it's all about starving instead of getting the right vitamins and nutrients and doing the right about of exercise and I think it's disgusting national magazines aimed at young women are glamorizing it, really well written :)

    A little bit Unique - Blog // Please vote for me in the Company blog awards, best fashion - newcomer

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment Ellen :) Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more - it's very close to my heart and I hate that it has become synonymous with the publishing/magazine industry to put this kind of pressure on young women - well, women of all ages really! The now infamous 'Samantha Banks article' that came out last week/two weeks ago was really only the tip of the iceberg.

      Thanks so much again for reading & commenting!

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