An end to dieting? Fat chance

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The Independent Online
We are only days into the New Year - and guess what? There is a revolutionary new way to slim (isn't that what someone said this time last year?). No, listen, it's fantastic - no need to count calories - all you need to do is eat six boiled eggs with half a grapefruit every half an hour for two hours before you get out of bed ... and after that, all you need to do is ...

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought we were in a totally new era. Aren't we now in post-dieting times, when it's fab to be fat - even though it might actually kill you? But let's not worry about that. What matters is that instead of counting calories, we are keeping the cash registers dinging with our panic-buying of the latest "non-diet' books, desperately, guiltily hoping that between the lines lies the secret of a 22-inch waist. Thus we can feel we can keep up with the trends, deny the guilt surrounding our obsessions, accept our rolls of fat - and be happy.

Wrong. The only people who are happy are the publishers of the new craze for "thinness-free, non-dieting" diet books, the advertisers and the dieting industry.

The growing fab-to-be-fat brigade has come on the back of saturation coverage of the "norm" of superthin models such as Jodie Kidd (above). One extreme has simply followed another. It's an exhausting roller-coaster of yearly exploitation and capitalisation - in which the only losers are us.

So, what we need is a post-post dieting era. (A bit like post-post modernism, but with more calories!) And we need it to start now - before we die from being overweight, or become terminally depressed trying to accept our unacceptable adipose. We need the pendulum to take another dramatic swing - to the middle. In this new era, it will be good and positive to be slim - but by permanently giving up the guilt-ridden, desperate cycle of starving and bingeing. It will be good to eat healthy, nourishing food and still lose weight. It will be good to enjoy Christmas without the compulsory trough-out. It will be good to start 1998 and not need the Revolutionary New Diet when "all you need to do is ... etc" (yawn). It will be good, because it will be possible.

And it will be possible when we stop being victims, and learn to trust ourselves. It will be possible when we take responsibility for our eating habits, which we are genuinely prepared to change - permanently - and take control of our lives, and of what we do and don't put in our mouths - and others' pockets. Then next January we could genuinely say "Happy New Year".