09/12/2013 09:32 GMT | Updated 07/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Dieting Writers, Christmas Binges, and the Sad Goodbye to Sugar

As the festive season absorbs our souls and grinds them into a carb-y, warm sludge, it's time to cup your overhang in your hands and feel terrible about it. If it weren't for the sheer amount of flat-stomached people who pass me on a daily basis, I'd assume the non-tummy-look was a media conspiracy to make us diet more, but, alas, it's definitely not. The fact is that I prefer sitting down and scoffing sugary things whilst writing and reading, rather than the unbalanced, uncoordinated exercise I could be doing instead.


(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

In the world of food and writing, I'm an al dente moaner, a social commentator looking through the holes of glazed ring doughnuts. There's no doubt, after all, that the life of someone who feels the need to write about the world around them tend to have a keen eye for the most delicious foods, often in the largest quantities. Whilst I hesitate to have any idols, one close to the position, not always for his ideology, is the late polemicist Christopher Hitchens and it would be negligent to not recognise the sizeable gut he sported in periods of his word flavoured life. Then onto Stephen Fry, another, more relatable, demi-idol of mine, whose own staggeringly honest insight into the world and playful prose is surely as good a reason as any to permit another chocolate Christmas Tree decoration (and to never worry about the image obsessed world of photoshopped bellies and beach bodies).

It is claimed that Lord Byron - thought to have been the inspiration for the early vampire, Lord Ruthven, more blood-gluttonous, than greedy for the last mince pie - was the first ever celebrity diet icon. "My Vinegar and Potato diet Hell" would likely be the headline of any weekly gossip magazine nowadays, but it would not be far from the truth for the man who lived on "biscuits and soda water or potatoes drenched in vinegar" and was no stranger to the weighing scale. With a "morbid propensity to fatten," I feel I share at least one characteristic with the morally-questionable roguish writer.

Charles Dickens, rumoured in my family to be a dinner companion to one of my ancestors (casually announced by my grandmother one day), often appears obsessed with food in his novels and it seems only fitting that the line for which he is best known is all about getting more food - please, sir... . In his non-fictional existence, almost-spiritual benefits seemed to be embodied in the baked apple for Charles, apparently being a staple to his diet and his personal choice for a cure to sea-sickness. But for all the same reasons that I would never dare compare myself to any of those I have mentioned in terms of linguistic command, I equally wouldn't choose the diets of many of these creatives that I look up to. Coleridge and C.S. Lewis share more a love for opium than they do in their writing and it is Proust who started his day with the drug and croissants. If you're looking into history for your post-Christmas depressing diet regime, perhaps the writers aren't a good place to look.

The basics seem to be no carbs nor sugar, bread's bad and fast-food is your funeral, and then protein points to the gym. I am all-too-aware of the short life of this self-loathing induced cut in food intake and subsequent physical activity frenzy - I've joined the gym four times on separate occasions and barely stepped on a treadmill before giving up. I'd prefer it if this was more permanent, if this lack of sweets and puddings grew me wings or increased my abilities with sentence structuring - it's not going to happen, is it? The simple fact is that Christmas is going to be gluttonous and I'll make sure I enjoy it (so should you, if you indeed celebrate it or simply intend on food binges), but after that, I'm going to have to really think about reducing this bulbous belly, a home for pizza, bacon, and the happiness that only roast dinners and great company can produce.