At this time of year, when night arrives just after lunch, diets are more popular than ever. Green and grilled and adorably miniature, like dolls’ house furniture, and they come with rules. Which, as we all know, help control the fun. But which is the best? Do you choose the one that makes you defecate like it’s your career or the one that makes your breath smell like 6am? The one that you discuss as though you’ve given birth to it or the one that gives you a headache in your face?

Diets are judged not by how much weight they help you lose but by how many women’s weeklies they make the cover of. The best diets have their own PR. The best ones are discussed by strangers in the ladies’ loos, in hushed wondrous tones as if worried they might overhear. The best will typically require very little from the dieter while promising plenty – weight will fall from you like dandruff.

This year brings exciting developments in body hatred. At January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the HAPIfork was launched, a fork that senses the speed at which you eat, vibrating when it thinks you’re eating too fast. When you connect it to your computer, it tracks your progress from pig to princess, and allows you to “share your HAPImoments online with your friends. More friends… More fun!” More evenings lit by a laptop, taking four hours to finish a tray of Heston’s truffled macaroni cheese and telling your new best friend, the Texan woman who bought the same fork as you, that, no, she doesn’t look fat in those leggings.

The Diet Tube is gathering non-obese fans in the UK – the naso-gastric feeding tube that drips liquid protein into your stomach, only occasionally getting dislodged, sending food, confused, into the lungs. In the same family there’s the gastric balloon, which is inserted endoscopically into the stomach for six months and filled with blue saline solution, giving you a feeling of fullness. The saline is tinted blue in case the balloon bursts. “So if you do have a puncture and start peeing green,” the instructional video advises, “then you know there’s a problem.”

Earlier this month the inventor of the Segway applied for a patent on a pump that sucks food out of your stomach before any calories are absorbed, and helpfully vomits it out for you, like a friendly bulimia robot. Hurl-E? The tube “connects the inside of the stomach directly to a discreet, poker-chip sized Skin-Port on the outside of the abdomen. The Skin-Port has a valve that can be opened or closed to control the flow of stomach contents,” the website explains. “The patient empties a portion of stomach contents after each meal through this tube by connecting a small, handheld device to the Skin-Port.” Think of it as a sort of belly-button anus.

But before you rush to Harley Street, wander with me through the aisles of Amazon, where we’ll gorge on diet books and wrap ourselves in the blanket of promise. The real beauty of limiting your foods is that there’s so much choice! What to abstain from this year? Today you’d only diet for sport, I expect, having read report after report confirming that diets don’t work in the long term, reports concluding that most people would have been better off not dieting at all, what with the links between rapid weight loss and cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and altered immune function. Rather than diet to lose weight, you’d diet to stop thinking, I suppose. To live a little while longer in that rumbling headache before tea when your brain goes slower, so you are numb and unable to take responsibility for your actions.

Amazon’s bestselling diet book recommends intermittent fasting. Yes, you will lose weight (though much of it will be water), and yes, you will add shape to the design of your difficult relationship with food, smooth down the crinkles, add a hat, but at the end you will still be you. Bummer.


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