Tales from the Fat Camp

Every morning I eat a bowl of porridge oats with sliced banana, nuts and seeds, and a dash of soy milk. Then, in a desperate bid to counter the reflux I’ve endured for the last two years, I down a glass of water and a cup of herbal tea. During this ritual, I read from a selection of diet and health books to increase my rather limited knowledge of how the human body works. And, I have to say, I’m still as baffled by the process as I was when I first started.

The so-called experts don’t help. None of them seem to agree on anything. How are we, the consumer, supposed to make informed choices when the information we’re given doesn’t tally? The diet that’s in vogue one minute is out the next. Surely someone out there must know the answer?

Being human is a strange business. We spend most of our lives trying to curb our basic instincts. Then, when we fail, as most of us are programmed by nature to do, we parade around wearing sackcloth and ashes, expecting others to commiserate. Food, far from being a source of pleasure, is, for many people, a source of shame, neurosis even. Failed dieters have that chastened, defeated look, like troops sent back from the frontline. They take comfort from the tales of other failed dieters as they regroup, grab a low-calorie digestive and prepare to do battle again.

Spiritual gurus tell us it’s what’s on the inside that counts. We in the West know different. You only have to walk past a mirror to get a fair indication of what’s wrong with you. Excess fat is a sign of weakness, of moral turpitude. More effort is required. More diligence when cruising round the supermarket with an empty trolley.

But who am I to give advice? I’ve just eaten a slice of cheesecake with a dollop of double cream. And do I feel guilty? No, of course not, it was absolutely divine! As for the extra calories, well, there’s always tomorrow ….

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