We don’t have a weighing scales in the house. We like to guess instead. Recipes involve random guessing of ingredient weights and hurling things together which turn out just fine. We have the same attitude to body weight. No scales and hurling random things in while guessing that everything is just fine. I’ve no idea what I weigh and no inclination to find out. I’ve never been on a formal diet and over the last 14 odd years have had a lovely false companion – liposuction, courtesy of the continuous effects breastfeeding. Since my youngest got sense and withdrew his liposuction services I can no longer eat and drink anything in sight. Well, I can and I do, but there are hips and things now to contend with. Flicking through the Irish Times I got drawn into an article about a diet. Usually I’d ignore any such thing. But I found myself reading with acute attention. It sounds like a doddle. Eat as you wish for five days a week. Limit your intake for two days a week. Now even I could do that.

I google it to find out more. As well as weight loss the promises are many. Improved cognitive functioning. Hurray! Reduced risk of developing diabetes and other diseases. Yippee. Longevity. Yes please. A resurgence of good microbes and a slaying of bad ones. Ok, sounds good, whatever that means. Let’s do it.

As I write, I am on my second ‘fasting’ day. The diet is actually about intermittent fasting. And boy do you feel it. On the first fasting day I was giddy with the challenge. Spouting how easy it was and how eating omelette and salmon and veg is hardly fasting. Until 11 o’clock that night when the gnawing dizziness of it set in. I was acutely uncomfortable. Couldn’t read or write or think straight. There’s no way I’d be able to sleep like this. So I added my own twist to the end of the day. Half a glass of red wine. I know, I know. It was either that or I’d be asking someone to shoot me. I found that I could speak again. I thought that I would sleep now. A lovely relief set in. The following morning I gobbled down my entire fasting day calories in one go with a sandwich in Insomnia. Oh well. I dreaded the second fasting day. Today. It’s Friday. It was supposed to be Thursday, but there was a Mum’s night out and starving while going out for a meal don’t mix so well. I ate and I drank and was merry. I thought there’d be no way I’d fast today. That one day of fasting in my life would be enough. Yet here I am. Experimenting. Is it possible to do this with 5 kids? Will they notice that their mother is more under par than usual? Responding to pleas for food with less enthusiasm than most days, grunting and occasionally barking and dragging myself around. If I could just crawl into bed and sleep through the fasting days it would be perfect.

There’s a knock at the door. I’m 62 calories in to my 500 calorie allowance and I can’t be dealing with a knock at the door. Marque 1 answers it and comes to get me. I’m extremely light headed when I get up from writing this. At the door there’s a shimmering mirage of maroon trousers, earrings and badges. It’s glinting and winking at me. The badges say ‘I’ve voted YES to equality’ and ‘have you voted? Vote Yes’ etc., It is voting day in the same sex marriage referendum. There’s no canvassing allowed on voting day. I’m swaying, trying to focus on the words coming out. He seems to be talking about a children’s hospital. Money needed for a new area for the sick children. Why today? My starving brain indicates that this man is telling me to go out and vote yes. Overtly. Nothing subliminal going on here. But he’s not allowed to do that, is he? If I could speak I’d let him know that he’s wasting his time at my door because I’m voting yes anyway. The kids have told me so. I would tell him that as soon as I’ve eaten my 78 calorie spinach omelette I’m heading around to vote, but thanks for the little jog along. Oh and I hope you’re not doing too much damage to the yes side by canvassing today.
I wonder again why the hell I am doing this? I think I’ve always admired people who can fast. There’s an attractive discipline to it which might just spin off into other areas of life. More disciplined writing regimes for example. Wouldn’t that be sweet. But right now in the middle of a fasting day the brain feels fuzzy, wasted, in need of a Mars bar or two. My writing feels laboured where usually I trot stuff out no bother. I have no energy to, say, hoover or hang out a wash which may not seem unusual but there’s a difference. Often I choose not bother to hoover or hang out a wash but today it would be physically impossible. If I was eating properly I’d have the kids at a park right now. As it stands I think I’d be a danger behind the wheel trying to get them there.
At tea time I throw some fish in the oven and put in a request for real chippy chips to be picked up on his way home. For the kids. And as a little test of my nerve. He wafts past me with the bulging steaming brown paper bag and I follow him sniffing like a mutt. If I can do this – dish out the salty vinegary heavenly chunks – without sneaking any the diet is working and I’m good to continue. I need to know now. I’ve been starving all day so I’m unlikely to blow it. That would be just stupid. But one little one would hardly blow it, and nobody will know, and I don’t have a scales so I won’t even know and… It slips into my mouth releasing all it’s bold greasy deliciousness and I’m done in. It is an impossibility to have only one, everyone knows that, and a handful down I’m beginning to cheer right up, thinking of holidays and late night indulgences and to hell with improved cognitive functioning and longevity and jeans in need of a belt. I’ll have to admire the fasters from a distance. Dieting just isn’t for me. Yippee.