I read Past Bedtime



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Welcome to I Read Past Bedtime, a blog for 20-somethings finding their way in the world.


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The 5:2 Fast Diet: Not as Tricky as it Seems?

To use the phrasing (but undoubtedly not the content) of the wise Gandalf the Grey, ‘The time for veganism has passed. The hour of the 5:2 is upon us.’

Lent is over and I was successfully vegan for approx. 32 of 40 days, veggie for the whole lot (in case you’re wondering what caused my downfall, there was a particularly aromatic cheese stall in Settle. Not only did I enjoy some of the finest cheddar of my life as the fruit of that visit, but I learned the correct pronunciation of Gouda (rhymes with chowder) and was bestowed my first new pound coin – absolutely worth the extra few weeks in purgatory).

Veganism was a challenge, and if I’ve learned anything about my body from the experience, it’s that a balanced diet containing all the main food groups is the best way to be healthy and happy for life.

Lol jk, could barely write that with a straight face, I’ve learned that I’m a f***ing maniac whose only hope of avoiding obesity and a life of related health problems is to be on an unnecessarily restrictive diet.

Next on the magenda? (mad agenda, geddit?) 5:2.

The concept is simple enough: restrict your diet to 500/600 calories 2 days a week and you are free to eat what you like (as long as what you like is 1500 cals of predominantly healthy food) for the remaining 5, with an average weight loss forecast of 1 pound a week.

The real trick to 5:2 is how you spend those 500 calories. I first tried (and failed) this diet (miserably) a few years ago. The reason behind the catastrophic results was my assumption that 500 calories translated into nibbling on carrots and celery and nothing else all day long.

Moreover, I assumed that I’d have no excess energy to expend on such luxuries as moving, so I opted to fast on a day when I had no plans aside from mooching around at home.

Top dieting tip: if you are hoping to cheat shamelessly on your diet, never, EVER tell smug family members who exercise portion control that you are on one.

The result? Endless lustful trips of longing to the fridge to gaze at all the food I couldn’t eat, only to shuffle away in shame when my Dad shot me a knowing look from the garden (top dieting tip: if you are hoping to cheat shamelessly on your diet, never, EVER tell smug family members who exercise portion control and moderation that you are on one.)

I kid you not, after just one day of this hell I woke up so deliriously ravenous that I was half-running half-stumbling down to my coco pops.

And yet, a few years and one highly persuasive double page spread in the Mail on Sunday later, (did I mention how easily led I am?), I decided to take a second look at 5:2.

Who knows, maybe teaching maths has sharpened my addition skills, but it turns out that 500 calories (ok 600, I’m not a total sadist) will buy you considerably more to munch than a few sticks of celery.

On a typical fast day I have porridge for breakfast, soup for lunch and a boiled egg and toast for dinner - all of which will set me back about 600 calories and, despite halving quartering the portions I would normally enjoy, is not dissimilar to the kinds of food I would normally eat, meaning I get through a working day and a workout just fine.

And, no word of a lie, after two weeks on the diet I am already feeling better, and had a noticeably flatter stomach to boot until I went for Sunday lunch at my Grandma’s and ate copious amounts of Carte d’Or straight from the tub (I mean it’s about balance, right?)

In truth, the only real flaw I can find with 5:2 is having to find two days a week when it’s convenient to cut down considerably. Luckily, as an antisocialite, this doesn’t normally pose me a huge problem. But this week, having to choose between sacrificing bank holiday dominoes (if it’s not a tradition in your house, it should be), dinner with Bae and a night with the girls proved altogether too much, so goddammit I’m going to enjoy all three.

I recommend 5:2 wholeheartedly to those for whom dieting 7 days a week is a nightmare of epic proportions, but even so, it’s essential to endorse the odd cheat day. Because Dominoes.