Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'I suffer from a new disorder, now I need some self control'

In The Red
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The Independent Online

In reaching my conclusion last week that I needn't bother with packed lunches because my favourite Marks & Spencer prawn cocktail salad costs only 2.20 I may, I admit, have been a little hasty. Not because I'd be better off bringing into work my own home-made sandwiches (more on those later) but because I had failed to take into account my own habit of Always Finding Something Else To Buy.

Everyone knows someone who suffers from AFSETB disorder. Heck, I know several people and I suffer it myself and believe me, it's totally debilitating. You know the symptoms. Your shoes are wearing a little thin so you head out to buy another pair, only to find the perfect handbag/pair of tights/skirt to wear with them and whoops! the perfect blouse/belt/scarf to wear with that.

You head out to buy a pint of milk and come back with two quiches and a bag of walnuts. You intend to look for a winter coat and find a new evening dress at the same time. It's a major problem.

So, anyway, there I was, naive little me, thinking I could get away with popping out at lunch and actually spending only the 2.20 on a salad that I needed too. This, of course, was ridiculously optimistic. True, the salad does cost only 2.20 but I hadn't factored in the almost irresistible temptation of the coffee bar. Not to mention those enticing little packs of dried fruit and candied nuts they sell, which started out as a one-off indulgence (they're only one pound!), before turning into a Monday lunchtime pick-me-up and a Friday lunchtime celebration, and then finally into a daily necessity (or even, on special occasions, a twice-daily necessity. Oh the shame!). At least I haven't yet started buying expensive bottled water to go with it.

The thing is and this really is the thing I just don't like sandwiches. I had some wonderful suggestions after last week's column for the various fillings I could use but I can't, I'm afraid, face it. I'm a salad eater, and that's all there is to it. Fussy, I know. Expensive, too. But there we are.

True, allowing myself a shop-bought lunch is working out to be considerably more expensive than I thought it would. Surely, though, it doesn't have to? All it would take would be a little bit of self discipline and I'd be home dry, spending no more than a couple of quid. So, new week resolution: to get some self control. Because if I run out of the money before the end of it I won't have anything for lunch except, possibly, the free cheeseburger flavoured crisps currently residing on the newsdesk. Appetising!

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