Is this going to be the miracle that will turn me from a short, stocky Irish peasant into a long, lean bean? ANNIE YOUNG

I can’t help myself.

Whenever a new diet flashes up on a computer screen my heart beats a little faster.

Is this going to be the miracle that will turn me from a short, stocky Irish peasant into a long, lean bean with legs that start under my armpits and perfectly elegant arms without batwings?

I print off the article and begin to read. It appears to involve giving up foods which produce lectins. “Lectins are a family of carbohydrate-binding proteins. They’re found in all foods, but the highest amounts are found in legumes and grains”. (Rosenbloom, 2017)

I discover this means giving up most foods that are really delicious.  

What sort of diet is going to subtract from your daily food intake a list of the following foods: whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum, dairy, eggs, and fruit?

Are they kidding?

I’ve never been a great lentils enthusiast except when they’re added to soup, so am happy to give them a miss.  

Some readers may remember a riotous comedy television show of many years ago called The Young Ones, which told the story of a group of university students who lived almost entirely on lentils. Their pot of lentils looked disgusting but it kept them alive.

Over many years there have been numerous fad diets - high carbs, low carbs, paleo, shakes and cabbage soup.

None of the promises came close to reality or perhaps I simply lost heart after a few weeks of sticking faithfully to the cause. Weight would plateau out, never to reach the magic line.  

At that point, it was time to surrender and revert to old habits and comfort food.

One of the worst diets included no food for two days of each week (the 5-2 diet).

A cloud of self-pity would hover around my head as I tried to find a logical reason to eat rather than starve during the food off day or convince myself that tomorrow is a better choice of day to starve and my resolve would soon crumble.

Food is so enjoyable, no apologies for that, and while we don’t need to eat vast quantities of it there is something very comforting about sipping on a glass of red or white while a chicken and vegetable stir fry sizzles away in a wok or a pasta is casually tossed with tomato and garlic sauce.  

What’s not to love about the flavours, aromas, and textures of food? It doesn’t come much better.

It’s obvious I’m a hopeless candidate for a diet, particularly a fad diet. I’m an abject failure at dieting and now beyond caring. It’s clearly the fault of inherited genes of those Irish peasants who travelled to Australia in the early twentieth century. They have a lot to answer for.

I think my son has probably the most practical, sensible advice.

He calls it briskly, ‘Input and Output. What you put in, Mum, you must put out in exercise’.

Yes, another piece of fine advice I probably won’t follow too seriously, but I take his point.

I enjoy exercise at irregular intervals, but I’m not into marathons as he is.

Another friend of mine said quietly to me recently: “The only way I have ever lost weight was to halve the full serve on the plate and eat the dinner over two days. That way I looked forward to a decent dinner each night, even if it’s only a half size serve”.

I think I could do that … at least for a while.

ANNIE YOUNG