Belinda Marsh

The 5:2 diet: another dose of first world hell

A supplied image obtained Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 of Dr Michael Mosley, the BBC self-experimenter doctor who has written a book on his 5:2 fasting diet. Mr Mosley is in Australia to launch BBC Knowledge series, What's Your Body Hiding.
AAP Image/Supplied by Dominique Cleary

The ‘5:2 diet’ is yet another diet frenzy sweeping the world.

Dr Michael Mosely, of BBC Horizon fame, put himself through a few different dieting techniques so that he could figure out which one worked best. The 5:2 Diet, which incorporates five days of the week where you eat whatever you want (and apparently he really does mean whatever you want,  a big draw-card for the majority), is teamed with two non-consecutive days of fasting, where you reduce your intake to 500 calories (600 if you’re a bloke).

Word on the street (i.e. the Internet) is that this 5:2 Diet is the shizz. You’ll lose a tonne of weight, and your blood sugar and cholesterol levels will drop dramatically. The hormone Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF1), of which high levels have been strongly linked to breast and prostate cancers, will radically reduce as well. The fervour is spreading as it is not really a ‘diet’ per se; it is more to do with ‘wellness’ and ‘health’, catch-phrases that are enticing in a jaded world tired of dieting.

I’m going to tell you straight up –  my first day of fasting was also my last. This is because this diet, in my humble opinion, is utter bollocks – maybe not for others, but at least for me*. Ok, admittedly, I am the kind of person who gets grumpy if she doesn’t eat regularly, so I am climbing the walls with stress. I know now that I got caught up in the fervour. I really didn’t think it would be this difficult, and I didn’t realise that 500 calories constitutes so little food. My head is pounding; I am dizzy, sick and agitated. I can barely concentrate, and I can’t sleep due to hunger. The reasons I have taken on this diet, to help me lose weight and become healthier, are lost in a fog of misery.

And, on top of that, my obsession with food has returned as I count the calories, yet again. All I’m thinking about is how I’d love a damn good feed. I didn’t realise how this fasting day would affect me. People said how it was ‘easy’ to do this diet. I wish I was finding it ‘easy’! I know it’s only for 24 hours, and some people may call me a wuss, but this is does not feel good for me, at all. For someone who finally came to a peaceful truce with food (and had started to lose weight without thinking too much about it), I have spent nearly the entire day day-dreaming about organic bread with brie, tomatoes and salad; dark chocolate; yoghurt with fruit; and chicken curry with vegetables.

I am trapped in First World hell.

Why did I decide to do this? Well, I watched the TV show and, like everyone else, thought that this was a great idea, and decided that it would be great ensuring my cholesterol, blood sugar and weight behaved. What if I could really reduce my risk of certain types of cancer? Right now, mire in misery, I’m discovering that I simply don’t care any more. This diet has sapped my will to live.

Is this the new Atkins? Low fat? Blood Type? Have I bought into the hype? Am I going to be just another disappointed, grouchy and eternally hungry member on the bandwagon, when all I want to do is take the reins and head to the nearest cafe for ‘Pasta of the Day’?

When I ‘do’ diets, I am often left wondering why everyone else is doing really well when I’m not coping at all. I hear of the weight lost and health gained, and the religious fervour grows to a point where I start to think I am part of a cult and I’m the only one who has woken up to that fact juuuust before we’re encouraged to drink the poison so that we can finally meet our alien masters.

Each day we’re told that diets don’t work, yet we’re all quick to climb aboard the next fad because we’re so fu#king desperate to lose the excess. Nobody but the perpetual dieter (and I have been one for 13 years now) can understand the depression I am experiencing right at this very moment as, yet again, I fail at dieting. I hate myself more each and every time. I am my own worst nightmare as I give myself depression through hateful self-talk and vehement emotional abuse.

Let me just say this: I am going to stand up proudly and say no to fads diets. I am not going to be part of these lies any longer and I am refusing to make myself feel so terrible.

The 5:2 Diet can kiss my podgy arse.

*Ed's note: this piece reflects the personal opinion of the writer and is not to be construed as professional or medical advice. The opinions in this article only encompass the specific experience of the writer and not necessarily a reflection of the effectiveness or validity of the diet.
Belinda Marsh

If Belinda could be a superhero, she would be Apostrophe Woman, using her powers to change misplaced and abused apostrophes. She has been known to explode in red-headed rages, so it’s best to be nice to her (offerings of chocolate have been known to help, albeit temporarily). Belinda likes to think she’s a writer, and has recently been thinking about a Masters. She has added this to her to-do list, somewhere after ‘buy more chocolate’ and ‘shave underarm hair’.

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