Absnasm is mostly elsewhere.
Oh. My. God. Yesterday, leafing through the latest edition of Psychologies magazine, I came across an advert so bad that I laughed and laughed and laughed. It’s for a well-known VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) – a particularly hardcore one. No “and a proper dinner” here – nope, every single meal, for a period of 14 weeks (8 if you have a penis, cos men can’t hack it), is replaced by a branded ultra-low calorie shake, soup or bar. You consume around 600 calories as day. Well, doesn’t that sound fun, varied and interesting? Not to mention safe. And oh yes, the programme will apparently help you to resolve your issues with food because you get to go to weekly group therapy run by a “counsellor”... with a BTEC qualification – forgive me if I’m wrong but isn’t that the qualification that the kids at school did if they weren’t smart enough to do GCSEs?
Anyway. Let’s have a look at the ad, shall we? An ad so full of contradictions it doesn’t know if it’s coming or going. The ad is in italics, my comments are not. And, reading this back after type-ranting for the best part of an hour, I may have gone slightly over the top. Please bear with me.
Have you ever tried to diet by just eating carefully? EVERY DAY you have to find THREE different meals that make you lose weight AND aren’t boring. It’s impossible.
OMG, three whole meals a day that aren’t boring? How do people do that?! It’s impossible! With all the variety of all the foods on the planet, how on earth is one expected to keep oneself interested in what one is eating? It’s… such… a… grind!
Actually, they’re right in saying it’s impossible to find foods that “make you lose weight”. No foods make you lose weight, because food isn’t there to “make you” lose weight (with the possible exception of celery which uses more calories to eat it than it actually contains, but you would have to eat a fuckton of it for the most negligible effect), it’s there to support your body and be enjoyed. I’ve a strong suspicion that they’ve shoehorned this erroneous and clumsy phrase in there as a mechanism to encourage the reader to place all the responsibility for weight loss on the external method they choose, which of course will chime rather well for the kind of people who use these VLCD-type programmes. Double reinforcement of “We are the experts”. None of that “be your own guru” nonsense here.
Also, it goes without saying that you need to eat three meals a day. That’s just what people do, right? That’s normal. Three. It’s the magic number. Yes, it is. It’s the magic number.
With temptation everywhere, how the fudge cake is anyone supposed to stick to a diet?
Yes, how, how?! Tell us how! You couldn’t be righter, there is so much delicious food in the world, I can’t possibly restrict myself to just eating a few choices, even though we’ve just established above that it’s impossible to find interesting food to eat. Wait, what? Which is it? Is there loads of interesting food, or is finding interesting food a thanklessly impossible task? I’m confused.
Oh, but I like your “common people” touch. You nearly swore! It’s hilarious! You’re just like me!
[Unnamed VLCD] sorts this. Very low calorie soups, shakes and bars. So every day you know what you’re going to eat.
Oh, thank God. Thank you so much for taking that choice away from me. I just didn’t know how I was going to stick to a diet, what with all the temptation of all the delicious food in the world (that it’s also impossible to make interesting). But now that I only get to eat powdered soups and shakes and weird chemically bars all that desire to eat different foods has just disappeared! It’s amazing!
Which makes everything super simple. And super do-able.
Super simple – I’ll say so. Ah, the comfort of sheer boredom. Also, I must say that removing all real actual food from my life is really helping me to sort out my issues with over-eating. I barely think about real, actual food at all. Like sandwiches and salads and peas and pasta and yogurt and beans and spices and cheese and lentils and green beans and apples and avocados and eggs and… Sorry, I drifted off. Must be lack of concentration from the very low calorie count. They didn’t warn me about that. Or the hair loss. And if on the offchance I do start craving Maltesers and Black Forest gateau, well, I can just hop onto one of the many websites that have sprung up with recipes showing me how to convert those powdery substances into approximations of the foods I used to binge on back in the day when I had an eating disorder! This one has methods for making chocolate fudge, chicken stuffing and popadoms, all from those weird chemical powders! So now I get to eat just the way I did in the olden days, just without actually eating any real food or enjoying it at all. Although technically I’m meant to be abstaining from food entirely, so I’m not completely sure where the recipes stand in the grand scheme of the programme, but hey, the point is massive quick weight loss from tiny calorie consumption rather than slowly, carefully unpicking and changing my attitudes towards myself, food, weight, other people, life and so on. Quick weight loss is what we all actually want, isn’t it? Perhaps I can just live on food packs for the rest of my life – if I’m slim everything in my life will be fixed and I won’t feel that drive to eat any more. Although, of course, there is the “therapy”, and the way my “counsellor” tips her head to one side and says “Mm-hmm” is really helping, too. The four months of training they sold her serves her well.
So you don’t have to be Super Woman.
No, that’s right! And the pressure to be Super Woman has in no way driven me to put myself under such tremendous stress by undertaking this massively risky diet. After all, when I’m slim, everything will be OK. I’ll be Super Woman. Slim fixes everything. If I can just gritted-teeth white knuckle it for 14 weeks without food then gradually reintroduce real foods. Like sandwiches and salads and peas and pasta and yogurt and beans and spices and cheese and lentils and green beans and apples and avocados and eggs and… droooool… Where am I? Oh yeah. Assuming that living on less than 600 calories a day hasn’t totally wrecked my metabolism… having said that, every time I’ve been on a diet before I’ve wound up finding weight goes back on easier and easier, so eating less than I need must do something nasty to my metabolism. Well, if I put weight on I can always go back on the VLCD for a bit again. I mean, I’m losing weight so fast, it must work.