HOW TO 2008 LOSE WEIGHT IN
Farewell to the fat and the fads: Lucy Atkins weighs up the shape of diets to come, while, overleaf, celebrities share their homespun slimming tips
Exhausted fad dieters will be relieved to hear that weight loss prospects look positively sensible for 2008. Self-deprivation will be officially out. For slimmers, says Denise Bates, publishing director at Collins, it will be “all lifestyle and having fun”.
“The forthcoming diet books are about avoiding guilt, not following a regime,” she explains. In How to Eat Like a Hot Chick, for instance, glamorous authors Jodi Lipper and Cerina Vincent will offer tips on which cocktails are less calorific than others and why we should avoid anything with “Frap” or “Mocha” at Starbucks.
“The trends for 2008 are definitely moving away from restrictive diets,” agrees Sue Baker of Publishing News, after surveying the new crop of diet books for next year. Thankfully, we will no longer have to eat like French or Japanese women. French Women Don’t Get Fat, one of this year’s bestsellers, exhorted flabby Brits to take the stairs and never swallow more than a sliver of brie at a sitting. This was then trumped by Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat, which had us cycling around eating fish.
Such diets are out because 2008 will be about introspection, not deprivation. “People want to look at why they are gaining weight and to work out how to eat sensibly without depriving themselves,” says Baker. For instance, The Diet Delusion, to be published in January, explodes the apparently imperfect science behind the anti-carbohydrate and low-fat eating trends to which we have blindly clung for years.
Of course, there will always be a market for the lunatic quick fix. No doubt many slimmers will spend large proportions of next year attempting to eat like a caveman (see our Diet Trends panel, overleaf). But the real hard-core dieting loons are more likely to seek solace in surgery than the Stone Age. There are already signs of a scary boom in obesity surgery (“stomach stapling”): the British Obesity Surgery Patient Association currently receives around 4,000 queries a month from people desperate for gastric bands or bypasses. For the rest of us, 2008 could be more about exercise than extremism. Instead of straining our brains trying to work out whether a potato has a lighter “glycemic load” when mashed or whole, we will be straining our muscles digging up the home-grown Maris Pipers. “Integrative exercise” — burning off calories doing everyday tasks — has replaced the gym.
We will also be far too busy sourcing local foods from organic farmers’ markets to bother with the austere diets that were so popular this year. After all, we now know that those raw food regimes, intermittent fasts and juicing diets did not work. Next year is also unlikely to see a resurgence of the carbohydrate-free Atkins Diet (or The South Beach Diet, or The Zone). These crashed and burned after Oprah Winfrey, the American celebrity guru, started to eat bread again and they are unlikely to return.
Not everyone, of course, will manage to slim down simply by cutting back on Frappuccinos. The “virtual diet” could be next year’s other weight-loss boom, with online groups such as EDiets, Weight Watchers or Tesco Diets offering the chance to buddy-up on the internet with fellow slimmers, sharing tips and morale-boosting chat, without the humiliation of public weigh-ins.
Finally, the new emphasis on healthy eating could mean a proliferation of so-called “functional foods”: products containing vitamins or probiotic and prebiotic bacteria for gut health, or omega-3 for concentration. Science, then, is the new self-discipline. Fad diets RIP?
JILLY COOPER Writer
I loathe this time of year because I can’t get anywhere near a typewriter for about 10 days and I become panicky. Therefore I misery-eat and put on about a stone, which is quite disgusting. When people hug me, I know I’m far too cuddly and that they can feel roll after roll of flesh.
I’ve tried this year to steer clear of crystallised fruit and chocolates. I have a charismatic Polish carer to help me look after my husband, Leo [who has Parkinson’s disease], and he does a lot of wonderful cooking, which keeps me out of the kitchen. Being in the kitchen is fatal.
In order to feel slim when I’m hugged on Valentine’s Day, I will go on my usual diet, eating mostly cabbage soup. My PA, Pam, makes a miraculous one with Oxo cubes and every vegetable under the sun: celery, peppers, leeks, onions broccoli and, of course, cabbage. I’ll have the soup for lunch, fish or chicken and a bit of yogurt for supper and then another bowl of soup later on. If I do that for a fortnight and come off the booze, the pounds melt away.
LAURENCE LLEWELYN-BOWEN Designer, TV presenter
Having reached my forties, I have discovered, to my utter horror, that there is one thing above all that will make me lose weight, something that scares the living daylights out of me. It’s frightening to admit but, if I actually lay off the Plymouth gin, it’s amazing how my love-handles deplete. But is life without gin worth living?
Anyway, there’s something rather lovely about lovehandles, particularly when they are expensively furnished by food from all around the world.
SARAH BEENY TV presenter
When I want to lose weight, I think about all the food I can eat, rather than the food I have to avoid. I eat a lot of things, such as anchovies and olives, that some people might think disgusting. I like strong-flavoured food and spoil myself with luxury, avoiding the carbs and fats. I’ll eat tomatoes, mussels, lobster and crab. If I’m in a restaurant, I’ll order a double serving of oysters. You must never go out and order a salad. You’ll just feel sad and deprived. Strong tastes and glamorously-served food makes me lose weight and feel fabulously selfindulgent.
I never let myself go hungry, either, so I reach for the biscuit tin. But it’s better to have one decent sandwich. I eat a lot of fruit. A banana is great for lasting energy. An avocado is another great healthy filler.
GABBY LOGAN TV sports presenter
As we have relatives to stay over the holiday, we have loads of baby-sitters to amuse our twins. This means my husband, Kenny, and I can counteract the calories by going for a run in the evening. Apart from running, if I need to lose a few pounds I go for long walks with the dog, drink a lot of water and try to drop the alcohol for a few days. The biggest incentive to slim down after overeating is the thought of the New Year celebrations. I try on the slinky outfit I plan to wear for the party and, if it is tight, that definitely keeps me away from the cake and biscuits.
My personal weight-loss plan really works. I never eat breakfast and only ever have two meals a day. But when I want to lose weight, I eat what I like for lunch — including meat or fish — and then just have vegetables for the evening meal. My preferred veggie dish is tomatoes and cucumbers with their skins left on and flavoured with a little salt. Sometimes I add a piece of wholemeal bread without butter. It’s all good roughage. If I get bored with that, I’ll have broccoli and sweetcorn or a vegetable soup.
Strenuous exercise is equally important. When I finished my latest book, The Chameleon’s Shadow, I ate my cucumber and tomatoes every evening but also got stuck into some heavy-duty DIY. I divided a room and built a walk-in larder, fixing the walls and everything. I also spectacularly redecorated my large kitchen and lost 10 pounds in two months.
BEN FOGLE Adventurer, TV presenter
I am happy to say that I have a weakness for food, but I am health-conscious and, as the years tick by, probably a little more body-conscious. I’m at an age when little paunches and bumps can start to appear. My fitness secret, which is not particularly wicked but works incredibly well, is that James Cracknell introduced me to the hideous world of rowing machines when we were in training for our Atlantic crossing.
I now have that self-same rowing machine at home. It’s the most dull piece of gym equipment you could possibly get, but it’s also wonderful because 30 minutes a day rowing away in the garden or in my hall keeps me in good shape. I use it every day for two months, then have a break before going back to it. My brain is oxygenated, the calories are burnt away and I get time to think. And I can still have a bar of chocolate. I firmly believe that we should allow ourselves a little bit of everything.
JENNIE BOND TV presenter, writer
If I need to lose weight, the first thing I do is try to cut down on the booze. If you can’t give up whatever your tipple is altogether, then at least reduce it. The only foolproof way I have found of losing weight these days is to throw myself into work. I need total stress and, if my stress levels are too low, I invent some more and throw myself into loads of housework. I clean out cupboards, run up and down the stairs and vacuum high and low. Hard physical and mental work soon sorts out the extra pounds. Every now and then I also have to talk to myself severely. I say: “Now you are not a person who eats chocolates and crisps (my big weakness) every day. That’s just not you! Get back to normality.”
TOYAHWILLCOX Actress, singer
At this time of year, I always do panto, which does wonders for my figure. This year, I’m playing Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Hexagon in Reading and we do two shows a day most days. I get so fit on stage and want to keep it up afterwards.
I have very sensible eating habits and my tip is the most basic and simple law in the world: do not eat more calories than you can burn. I find it staggering that people don’t get that. Because I’m going to hit 50 next year, I have a sensible breakfast of green tea and a bowl of bran flakes, and a good lunch such as a piece of salmon with spinach and fruit. I drink water all day, allow myself one more cup of tea and then I’ll have a bowl of soup in the evening and a bowl of cereal before going to bed. No one can sleep if they are hungry and you need carbohydrates to help you relax.
I only allow myself 1,500 calories a day because that’s all I need. If I go over that, I put on weight. I have worked that out for myself. I believe you can look better and better as you get older. I think people who go on about age being a bad thing are people who have lost their figures. If you can stay fit and slim, life is far more enjoyable.
Conscious eating is the key. There are times when we shovel in the chocolate or cake so fast that we don’t really taste anything. I am very greedy, but I try to be conscious of slowing down and actually enjoying what I’m eating. I also ask myself: “Do I really want this extra bit?” But it’s easier said than done.
A rare few people have a fast metabolism and stay the same weight no matter what, but when you get to a certain age fat is harder to move. I notice my middle is thicker and so, as boring as it sounds, exercise is the key. I do yoga, walk and I love to dance. I’ve just finished a tour with Jools Holland and on stage I am never grownup, demure and sophisticated. I let loose like a crazy child, dancing around the stage. I dance around my house, too. Everyone should keep on dancing. It’s a fun way to keep slim. It’s joyous.
ALANTITCHMARSH Gardening expert
My own six-word mantra for losing weight is simple: “Eat less, drink less, exercise more.”
GRAHAM NORTON TV presenter, agony aunt
When I want to lose weight, I only eat green and white things and I only drink things I can see through, such as vodka, gin and Champagne. For the purposes of the diet, tomatoes and beetroot are green, salmon and tuna qualify as white. You’re allowed potatoes (boiled or mashed, not chips or crisps), but you’re not allowed bread or pasta.
People laugh, but it works. I recently lost about two stone this way.
Weight and measures: celebrities Graham Norton andToyah Willcox (above, left), Minette Walters and Ben Fogle (above, right) and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (below) have their own ways of scaling down the flab