Chitra Ramaswamy: ‘Avoid anything cold such as salad or air. Food should be hot and contain melted cheese’

Chitra Ramaswamy
Chitra Ramaswamy
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I NEVER understand why we’re told to better ourselves at this time of year. These first cruel months are hardly our finest hour.

For a start it’s cold out there. Relentlessly. Bitterly. If we weren’t wearing such wonderful inventions as shoes we would probably spend most of January stuck to the icy pavement, just one more dismal commuter frozen mid-commute in a surreal tribute to an L S Lowry painting.

When it’s cold you don’t want to leave your bed, 
let alone attempt the so-called Fast Diet. (This isn’t – sorry to disappoint – about eating lots of roast potatoes as fast as you can, but about spending two days out of every seven EATING NOTHING AT ALL.) Some other reasons, in no particular order, why it’s not an ideal time to improve oneself. You’re broke and what little money you have should be saved for cups of tea and novelty hot water bottle covers. Why bother soothing yourself on the high street when all the shops are closing down anyway. All you’re going to get is a nasty bout of nostalgia at the demise of Jessops/HMV/That Shop You Hadn’t Been in Since the 1990s. Also, everyone out there, beyond the safety of your front door, is infectious and waiting for you to walk past so they can cough, open-mouthed, in your pallid face.

Need I go on? It’s too dark/cold/expensive to start that pilates class, take up rowing, learn to play the guitar, demonstrate against the proliferation of the onesie, 
or do any of the other impressive things of which human beings are 
capable in springtime. Your current daily routine is a little more, shall we say, basic, consisting of shuttling between work and home in the dark and falling asleep on the sofa before 10pm. This isn’t how Rome was built, admittedly, but it’s all you’re up to right now. Your social life is conducted at the supermarket till. Your dates are with TV schedules. And you know what? It’s OK.

What I would like to propose is the Home Diet. I’m hoping that by calling it a diet, people might actually 
be silly enough to do it and not feel bad about it. It’s a matter of survival. If you follow it, faithfully and to the letter, you will make it to spring.

Rule number one: do not leave home unless absolutely necessary. Seriously, every time you consider going out, pretend that something terrifying like David Cameron wearing a onesie is waiting on your doorstep. You’ll soon realise you don’t need that pint of milk so badly after all. Two: make all exercise brisk, functional, and about getting from A to B. This segues neatly into rule three: avoid public transport. It only ever gets more expensive and everyone aboard is carrying a virus and a hell of a lot of bad will. Four: avoid anything cold, such as salad or air. Food should be hot and contain melted cheese. Five: be selective about your viewing. Don’t waste your time on drivel like Splash! Instead pick a favourite director, say Hitchcock, and watch one of his films every night for a fortnight. Add themed menus and drinks and give yourself an icy blonde up-do, then create a Twitter hashtag and craft a series of pretentious tweets about the experience. The Home Diet, you see, is about expanding the mind as well as the waist. Inspiring stuff, no?

Finally, tell everyone who texts to ask you if you’re still alive that you’re great thanks to the Home Diet, endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Charles Darwin. I guarantee they will want to join in.

And with that, fellow dieters, I’m off home.