x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Falling off the dieting wagon

Tales from the scales There has been so much air travel over the past 10 days that I have given up wondering if it's lunchtime and just eat when I'm hungry.

On Tuesday I was in London, on Thursday I was back in Dubai and on Saturday I was in Kuala Lumpur. Now that I'm back in the UAE again, quite frankly I don't know whether I'm coming or going. I can't sleep, my body clock isn't working, I don't know what time it is and my low-fat eating plans have gone out of the window. There has been so much air travel over the past 10 days that I have given up wondering if it's lunchtime and just eat when I'm hungry. Then I eat again when a kindly air stewardess puts a meal in front of me. It's something to do on a long-haul flight and it's really difficult to be selective with airline meals.

Clearly it has been a distinctly abnormal period dashing about the world like this to a meeting in the UK and a journalistic assignment in KL and for once I haven't even had the opportunity to weigh myself. I don't feel as if I have gained any weight and my trousers feel quite loose, but I confess, when I got home to my own fridge in Surrey, England and thanks to my daughter, found it full of the sort of goodies that I used to snack on, I had a binge on cured meat. And oh, did I enjoy it.

I really thought I had cracked it, trained my body to do without fatty foods but I guess I was wrong. The salty fatty taste of the meat was utterly fantastic and the only reason I stopped was because there was no more left in the fridge. The falling off the dieting wagon really began on the aircraft to London with a small square of chocolate, something I haven't even sniffed for six weeks. The decadence of it was sublime and I found myself glancing around in a shifty fashion to see if anyone had spotted me eating it. I know perfectly well that nobody else cares if I stuff myself silly or starve myself but I've been so good for six weeks since I determined, with the help of the Weight Care Clinic at Dubai Healthcare City, that I must lose the 9kg that has crept on over the past couple of years and in particular the notorious Dubai stone that appeared from nowhere since October when I arrived in the UAE.

Thanks to the low-fat eating plan and solid encouragement from the clinic doctors I am one third of the way towards my goal, but here I was throwing all my good work away, or so I thought. I was beginning to wonder if it wasn't all just too difficult, and if life was conspiring to thwart the best of my intentions. I was tired and feeling a bit emotionally weak. There was nothing wrong, no domestic dramas or rows, it was just a real energy low. I couldn't even work up enough interest to go to the supermarket, so I took my mother-in-law to the local restaurant instead.

It was only when I was feeling a bit more relaxed that I found I was doing the mental checklist thing again as I was glancing over the menu. I chose cod because I fancied it and because my system felt a bit battered. The cod was not. It was baked with tomatoes and basil and it was delicious. I began to perk up and after a good night's sleep I was ready to resume my mission to kill that fat. One thing that has changed on the low-fat regime is my digestion. As the weight piled on, so did the heartburn. In my bedside drawer last week I counted six large packets of spearmint antacid tablets. You see I said spearmint, rather than any old heartburn pills. That's because I've suffered so long that I've become a bit of a connoisseur.

White bread and fatty foods make it worse and I often feel like the chap in that advertisement where a malign red devil sits waiting in his tummy to make him suffer horrendous pain after a blowout meal. On reflection it was clearly my body telling me that it doesn't like those things. You'd think I would have the wit to give them up and indeed I have weaned myself onto seeded batch instead of white, although I still can't bring myself to love wholemeal. It feels altogether too worthy, the sackcloth and ashes of the bread world.

To get back to the heartburn. Gone. Not forgotten but definitely gone. Now there's a thing.