Last week: 95.4 This week: 94.71

I first came across the Shangri-La diet on the Freakonomics blog back in September 2005. I remember thinking that it sounded plausible, interesting and would probably be quite popular. It also reminded me of a British Sugar Corporation advert, way back when, that claimed a spoonful of (pure, white, deadly) sugar was a useful diet aid because it supressed the appetite. Yeah. Right.

Anyway, I didn’t think too much more about it. Then another blogger I read mentioned it, and later in the spring I realized that over the winter I’d perhaps put on a kilo or two more than felt good. I’ve never been a dieter. And I was amazed that when I moved to Italy I shed about 10 kilograms with no effort whatsoever. Just not having biscuits around the house, and maybe not working at home, was all it took. One of the main reasons I don’t do diets is that I’m fully aware of the intake=output equation, and if my intake is low, I’m hungry all the time and I don’t like it. My answer in the past has been to stuff myself with bulky food. But Seth Robert’s take on things appealed to me.2

So I took to gagging down a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (delicious, extra virgin olive oil, not the bland extra-lite muck he advocates; there are some things one simply cannot do in Italy) twice a day and waited for the miracle to occur. It did, at least partly. There were days when I just didn’t feel much like eating. Other days, I ate the same amount as before. I switched from olive oil to sugar, two little packets in water twice a day. Same effect.

The lack of hunger is quite weird to describe. It isn’t like a “full” feeling. More just that the idea of eating is not all that pressing. Interesting, especially for someone who has never really listened to his own hunger much. There’s food, I eat. There’s no food, I get some. The diet seemed to be working, in that I felt better. But I couldn’t be sure. so I bought a bathroom scale, an item I have never before owned. That was a week ago. And now weighing myself is a little morning ritual. There’s been progress, too, down 700 grams in the week, well within the scales’ stated margin of error of 3%, but I’m not quibbling.

Daily weighing has become a reward in itself, to see that today’s weight is not higher than yesterday’s. Except when it is. and that prompted an (obvious) observation. Eating less is a lot easier when I am eating alone. Eating in company, at homes or in restaurants, is just too pleasant. And the diet does not seem to have diminished my ability or desire to eat as much as my hunger, which is all to easy to ignore anyway. I’ve decided to note social meals with my daily weight, but also to try and curb my restaurant meals. Sharing dishes, that’s the answer.

All of which is to introduce this new category. I was going to hide it away, but then I thought, why bother?

  1. Today, 16 years on: 89.1 

  2. 2022-07-27: Tragically, neither Seth nor Aaron is still with us, about which I have nothing to say. 

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