I haven’t blogged very much lately, because I’ve gotten a bit fat.
Unless you are the kind of foodie who really gets off on couscous and tangled heaps of spaghettified vegetation, it turns out that lot of food – particularly the kind you go to restaurants for – is actually very fattening. Who knew?
My weight gain was gradual and insidious. Fat molecules attached themselves to my thighs in the manner of barnacles attaching themselves to ships. (The two are actually very similar. In either case, you’re merrily bobbing along and then suddenly there’s half a tonne of the little buggers clinging to your hull and you’ve got to get the industrial scraper out.) It was the sort of gain where you’re sort of vaguely aware of it happening, because you find yourself more in more in baggy jumpers, leggings and anything in your wardrobe with an elasticated waistband, but write it off as temporary bloat from a heavy weekend, or really needing a poo. But eight weeks before I went on holiday – an occasion that would require me to strip off and present my quivering thighs to the world at least once – I was forced to accept I’d gained two stone in two years, none of my summer clothes fitted me, and my fear of being mistaken for the moon at the pool was eclipsing my actual looking forward to going away.
Drastic action was promptly taken; I stopped eating out, curbed midweek drinking and indefinitely postponed any prospect of a proper lunch in favour of possibly the three most tragic words in the English language: soup, no roll.
It worked though. I’ve lost nearly a stone (“But at what cost?!” I hear you cry). There’s 16lbs left to go but, I think, I’d quite like to get back to enjoying myself. Just maybe not quite as often or with such enthusiasm as before. Balance and so forth.
Unfortunately, the reason why restaurant food tastes so good is not just because somebody much better at cooking than you is wielding the ladle behind the scenes. Anyone who has heard Gordon Ramsay describe how he makes mashed potatoes can attest that the extra ingredients to restaurant-quality food often are, in fact, extra ingredients. Fatty, buttery, creamy ones. Cheesy ones. Freshly baked that morning ones.
Obviously this is problematic. I mean, I suppose I could pass on the complimentary sourdough and homemade butter, whipped into a unyielding dollop of slippery, salty, wanton fat, or perhaps plump for spring greens instead of potatoes dauphinoise, but…I don’t really want to. It’s not in the spirit of the enterprise. Going to a restaurant and ordering something you don’t want is like going to a brothel and paying to shag the dog.
So my new strategy is to try and eat out in places whose menus show a little more restraint. For instance, today is National Burger Day. Not three miles from my front door is an actual festival where people are giddily inhaling burgers at a rate of knots, and yet here I am, sat at home with a bowl of homemade lentil curry. (Which is all very well and good, but it’s not exactly a burger dunked in gravy, is it?) At the weekend I shall go out for dinner as a reward for my self-control and choose something a bit healthier. Like one of these.
My absolute favourite kind of healthy cuisine is Peruvian. This is because ceviche – fresh fish, cured in mouth-puckering lemon and/or lime juice – is one of the genuinely most delicious dishes in the world, and has absolutely bugger all fat in it. We make it at home sometimes when we can be arsed and once you’ve got hold of the fish (gotta be fishmonger-fresh) and removed all the bones it’s shamefully easy to make.
Try: The Gate (£££), Mildred’s (££), Vanilla Black (£££). If you’re a true masochist you could try somewhere like Farmacy or Redemption, London’s only meat-free, dairy-free, alcohol-free restaurant and bar.
Okay, hummus is not really a diet food, though, like the avocado, the fat in it is the ‘good’ unsaturated kind. And you can dunk carrots in it, which are mega-healthy. (Say what you like about the Middle-East, they may be a bit shit on the human rights front but they are fantastic with dip.) There are also lots of interesting spices and really, really amazing aubergine dishes.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.