Get on this diet quickly – so you can get off it again!

Fasting makes for skimpy conversation, so try out the 5:2 diet  if you must, but please leave the rest of us in peace

Rebecca Armstrong
Tuesday 29 January 2013 16:43 GMT
(Getty Images)

We're almost there. The end of dry January (or “dryathalon”, as it's been dubbed by on-the-wagon wags) is in sight. It's not that I'm looking forward to tucking into a drink after 30 days of abstinence - I think you have to be insane to attempt January without the aid of an alcoholic safety net – it's that it's going to be lovely to not have to listen to anyone quacking on about how well/badly they've been doing and how much better/worse they feel away from the gin and slim/cider inside 'em. To paraphrase Yoda, drink or do not drink. But don't yap about it.

However, while this particular bit of competitive self-betterment is drawing to a close, another one is gaining pace. I'm sure you're au fait with the 5:2 or alternate-day fasting diet but if not, it involves drastically reducing your calorie intake on certain days (two out of five, in the most popular version) to 500 calories for women and 600 for men, meaning you can scoff what you like on others. After a Horizon documentary last year that saw presenter Michael Mosley lose weight, become healthier, grow wings and develop laser eyes*, there's now a book, endless magazine articles – yes, and newspaper columns – spreading the word to avid acolytes.

It's easy to be carried along with the hysteria of any diet honeymoon period. Those wonderful hours after you read about the one true diet to end all diets, the one where you can eat, drink and be slinky, but crucially before you've had to actually do it. And before the reverse-ferret health-scare articles start appearing. There's the rush of excitement when you think about how much better life will be when there's less of you, but before the crushing blow of realising, as one friend did, that the Pret-a-Manger caesar salad you've chosen for your fasting-day meal was way above what's allowed (“I didn't know they didn't include the dressing on the calorie listing. Heads will roll for this!”) I'm not going to lie, I've been sucked in too. But only for a morning.

Just like the great Weight Watchers debacle where I learnt you had to count carrots – CARROTS – as part of the diet and I saw red, the 5:2 saw me spend four hours raging and sulking that I couldn't eat dried mango before giving it up for a bad job. So come on everyone, get on the 5:2, get it out of your system and let's get cracking to find something else to talk about.

*Perhaps not the last two. But I'm so signing up to that eating plan as soon as someone perfects it.

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