If Angela Merkel can do it so can you. This week we learn that the German chancellor has lost a dramatic amount of weight by forgoing her customary diet of sausage sandwiches and biscuits and turning to healthy eating. Out with biscuits served at meetings and in with carrot and pepper sticks.
There is a lot to be said for making small manageable changes to the way you eat and seeing your weight drop gradually, rather than embracing the latest fad diet and giving up all the foods you love. For a start it is a lot easier because you don't feel you are on a diet with all the stress that entails. You can make changes at your own pace to suit your lifestyle.
If your style is to cook real food from scratch, you wouldn't consider eating pre-cooked food out of a plastic container even if it helped you lose weight. So why would you expect someone who eats junk food and takeaways to switch to grilled chicken breast, potatoes and broccoli, followed by fruit salad. It just won't happen.
We like to eat what we enjoy, we like to watch what TV programmes we are use to, and we like to wear what we are comfortable in. That's not to say we can't make changes. We can, as long as they are so small we barely notice and they take us in the direction that we want to go.
This is the main reason why fad diets never work. They are alien to our current eating habits. Once you forget about dieting for dieting's sake and start concentrating on getting healthy your weight will drop naturally. When you reach the inevitable plateau, all you need to do is to improve your diet further and gradually reduce portion sizes.
The easiest way to start getting healthy (and thin) is to look at what you are drinking. Begin with tea and coffee - if you take sugar, now is the time to cut it out. Stop drinking sweetened soft drinks of all kinds. Sugar stimulates the appetite and is energy rich. Refined sugar makes you age faster which should be sufficient incentive to avoid it.
If you find it difficult to make these basic changes, there is little point in embarking on a stringent slimming plan. Failure is bad for your self esteem and low self esteem is associated with the use of sweet, fatty foods to stuff your feelings.
Once you've mastered the liquids you are ready to start on the solids. Weight gain happens when you eat too much, so find ways to eat less which won't leave you feeling ravenous. In my book Can I Have Chips?: Fill Up, Lose Weight, Feel Great, I suggest not eating between meals. This makes sense because if you stop snacking your calorie intake naturally takes a tumble. You won't be hungry as long as you make sure you eat protein at every meal.
Protein is an appetite suppressant and contains fewer calories than carbohydrate because it is harder to metabolise. An egg at breakfast, cheese or meat for lunch and soya or fish for dinner will leave you satiated and you won't miss snacks. If you do need something to nibble on, copy Mrs Merkel and eat a carrot stick!
Although it may be tempting to take a boom and bust approach to your weight, it is not a long term solution and is therefore a waste of your time and money. The middle way of gradually making healthy changes to your diet is not only painless, but your doctor will be pleased when you next go and have a check up. Now where did I put those dried apple rings? I'm feeling peckish.