Saturday 20 January 2018

Being in a restaurant was like Sodom and Gommorah

Alan Levinovitz, a professor of religion who has a written a book about what he sees as the big lie of gluten intolerance, reckons that diets are a bit like religion. "Religion", according to one piece about him, "helps people make sense of a chaotic world: Suddenly, there is order, and there are instructions. All you have to do is follow them. 'You have a certainty about the choices you make,' Levinovitz said. 'That gives you a way to make decisions, and it makes for a comforting world.' It's understandable why people would pick a way of eating and then stick to their guns; it gives them some solid ground to stand on amid ever-shifting recommendations."

And it's true. The abdication of all choice is the saving grace of the Taylor Made diet for me. The food comes in the bag; you eat what's in the bag. You don't eat anything else. The whole element of choice is gone out of it. It makes things simpler and thus easier to deal with. You just drink the Kool-Aid (metaphorically speaking of course. Kool-Aid would be the last thing I'd be having right now) and follow the rules and it gives you some consistency in a world gone mad.

I also find myself enjoying the little inspirational letter from Ken Taylor that comes with the food deliveries every two days. It is a series of quite low key mantras and generally encouraging thoughts reminding you to drink lots of water, nudging you back on the path after a bank holiday weekend and repeating the main point of the diet - which is essentially re-education. You join the cult to be re-educated about portion size and about kicking your addiction to sugar in all its forms. It almost feels a bit like living in a rehab facility, where all choice is taken away from you for a little while and they take over your brain by remote control and run you for a while until you are suitably rewired and ready to run your own life again. There is something quite institutional about the stultifying monotony of it. There is the regularity of the deliveries, by the same guy, Eric, at the same time every two nights, the same structure to every day - the muesli, the soup, the dinner.

The problem, of course, with being in a cult, is that you are fine when you are with the other cult members but when cult-life collides with the real world, it can be confusing. I went for lunch with a guy last week and my head nearly melted in advance about how I would play it. In the event, I just told him I was on a diet and ordered a salad and tried not to think about it any further. Just moved on as if it never happened. At the restaurant I felt a bit like an Amish guy at a brothel. It was like Sodom and Gomorrah there.

The day off, currently Sunday, can be confusing too. Without the teat of Ken to suck on, with all the choice, I become agitated. Comfortingly, I'm finding that I don't really want to totally binge on Sundays. The crisps and junk cravings I get during the week don't seem to occur on Sundays when I know I can have crisps if I want to. But I usually have a bag for the sake of it. My main blow-out is probably a few drinks but I'm trying to stick to prosecco or white wine which, sugar-wise, are the next best thing to clear spirits. I think we all agree vodka or gin would not be a good idea. I slipped and had a few pints on Sunday because there was no way I was ordering white wine in the Bishopstown Bar in Cork, so I had Coors Light to kid myself I was being good. I have also let the day off begin on Saturday night in terms of having a few drinks.

Over the next few weeks there will be more challenges from the real world - nights out and visiting and various things. I guess I need to face up to real life eventually. My plan is to enjoy myself when I need to but to make up for it later.

It does mean the diet will slip a bit and I will be cheating for two or three days but I guess the key is to get back on an even keep then, not to just lapse into the old ways. This will be the first real test of how strong my faith is.

Also I am obviously worried that the weight loss is going to keep slowing down. I am down another sensible, sustainable two pounds this week. But I worry the low hanging fruit is gone now and it is going to become harder to drop the pounds.

The honeymoon is over. My faith is being tested. Bumpy times ahead.

Sunday Independent

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