I have spent the past few weeks eating for Australia.
I have spared no expense while dedicating myself full time to my chosen pursuit. Throughout the holiday season I left no corner of my stomach unfilled by the deliciousness of ham, blue cheese, red wine, pavolva and dark chocolate Lindt balls.
But now it is January and I enter the new year sporting a small but certainly noticeable food baby. So, as any sensible person looking for a healthy way to lose weight would, I have turned to the internet for help. And boy have I found it.
Who knew there were so many options for someone looking for a way to stop eating Christmas leftovers? There are raspberry drops, detoxes involving pepper, people who refuse to eat anything white, people who only eat things that are white and I can apparently get a flat stomach and abs in only 10 days with no exercise. High five.
But then I came across this post-Christmas cleanse from Gwyneth Paltrow. It turns out that Paltrow -- along with being Very Famous, married to someone Very Famous and Acting in Movies that are marketed on the basis she is Very Famous -- is also a health and fitness guru. Her website, Goop, is full of exciting and *wonderful* tips and tricks to living a more Gwyneth-worthy life.
Gwyneth described her Winter Cleanse (it's cold over in England and the US of A right now, remember) as "warming, filling and doesn't feel like a sacrifice."
Brilliant, I thought.
Just what I am looking for. A diet where I don't have to give up eating anything I like (miniature almond Magnums, I'm looking at you) and I am not left feeling hungry when I'm trying to go to sleep.
But then I read the detox 'menu' and cast my eyes over the recipe lists for the items to be consumed.
And my eyes fell out of my head (does that count as weight loss? I reckon' my eye balls weigh at least half a kilo).
This was not so much a diet as a starvation plan.
Gwyneth explains that:
"Our winter detox has looser guidelines and restrictions than ones we've done in the past but here is what we're avoiding: dairy, gluten, shellfish, anything processed (including all soy products), nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant), condiments, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and soda."
Yeah, so much for the 'doesn't feel like sacrifice' shiz Gwyneth was spinning earlier.
Let me take you through a sample day's menu.
According to Gwynnie, you should kick start your metabolism with a cleansing glass of warm water with lemon upon waking. Delicious. Nothing get me psyched for the day ahead like sour lukewarm water with pips in it.
A cup of herbal tea.
Now Gwyneth, eggs are breakfast. Nutella on toast is breakfast. Cereal with skim milk is breakfast. Leftover curry and rice is breakfast. Even a grapefruit can be considered breakfast by some totally deranged people. But herbal tea, as in WATER WITH SUGARLESS FLAVOR ADDED, is not breakfast.
Then comes the morning snack, which is a chai gingerbread shake.
Don't be fooled by the tasty treat-like name, friends. Chai gingerbread shake is actually Paltrow's secret code for another cup of tea with a dash of almond milk and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Snack my arse.
At lunch time we get treated to another glass of water with lemon in it.
This time the water is hot. Because variety.
Our main daytime meal is a light one. After that heavy morning dish of tea and water, one does not want to feel bloated. So there is a tantilizing chickpea soup on the menu.
Now I am not a hater. I quite like chickpeas when they take the form of hummus, so I scrolled down to the recipe section of the Goop website, willing to attempt to cook up this dish.
Memo to Gwyneth: 6 cups of hot water with a couple of random chickpeas floating in it, do not a soup make.
Our afternoon snack is homemade walnut lentil pate. Pate without bread. Or biscuits. Or snacky cheesy covered stick things to spread the pate upon.
I ask you, who eats pate without an appropriately carbohydrate fueled vehicle to consume it via? THIS WOMAN IS DEMENTED. The only spread that it is appropriate to eat without being spread on something is peanut butter. Everyone knows that.
Dinner is quinoa stuffed kabocha. F*cking fabulous.
I can't even spell my dinner, let alone figure out what the ingredients involved are or where to buy them. A friend at work informs me that kabocha is a form of squash. But I am on the floor in the fetal position, unable to process the idea of vegetables without oil, salt, spices or cheese to accompany them.
Gwyneth also suggests some handy hints to keep cleansers from feeling hungry and ensure that our bodies remain energized on the less-than-300-calories we are supposed to consume. (Sorry, but don't you need at least 1,000 calories a day to survive?)
Her tips include wearing socks, drinking additional herbal teas (you binge eating fatty, you) and going to infrared saunas.
Sorry Gwyneth, but when I am hungry no pair of socks is going to change that. And your saunas sound like the kind of thing scientists will conclude causes cancer in a few decades time.
Bugger all of this. I'm taking my Christmas food baby out for laksa.
Follow Jamila Rizvi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JamilaRizvi