I embarked on this current diet (to differentiate it from all the hundreds of other diets I’ve been on) in September last year after seeing photographs of myself at my Dad’s birthday. It’s always the way – you see a photo and think “Oh my god. FAT.”

Anyway there are three things that I have done on this diet – that I have had to do on this diet as I am older and therefore it is harder to lose weight – that have worked for me and might work for you, too.

Most lunchtimes I fall on Dr Kaarg’s Spelt crackers. In the past I have tried oatcakes or Ryvita, but it’s spelt that works and leaves the least trace. I slather 2 crackers at lunchtime with whatever is available – cream cheese, mackerel pate, just butter and cheese and then an apple later, or whatever. Not every day – every day and you get sick to death of them, just the days when I can’t even be bothered to massacre an avocado.

Second, at any point when I want to stuff a chocolate croissant in each cheek, hot buttered bagel up my nose and Nutella in my ears while snorting a line of Ferrero Rocher, I eat a Medjool date. They are insanely sweet little suckers and with 20% willpower will keep you off actual sugar.

Third, I’m eating less meat. Yes, I know. I KNOW! It’s the thing no-one wants to hear. Eat less red meat. The thing is, red meat just… hangs about rather a lot. Used to be I could eat a giant stew every day of the week and twice on Sunday and it wouldn’t matter, but now it just sticks around and makes me heavy. Even chicken, really, is too much. Vegetable-only dinners or fish vanish without trace.

It’s sobering, that meat now has to be a treat. Though that really ought to be the way that it is anyway. We all eat meat too much. It ought to be a treat – and now it is. We have a roast chicken once a week and the rest of the time it’s fish or just vegetables.

It’s a shame doubly because my vegetarian cooking isn’t that great. Although that is one way of losing weight – cook a dinner so inedible that you just don’t eat much of it. My butternut squash-and-blue-cheese parfait is particularly nasty.

BUT! The other night I made a Jamie Oliver haddock chowder and it was absolutely terrific. Here is the recipe.

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I did not take this photo

This is enough for 2 people.

300g smoked haddock, chopped into bite-sized chunks

a pinch of dried chilli, if you have it

1 fist-sized waxy potato – get this right, please, a floury potato will fuck this up badly – chop it into 2cm-ish cubes

4 spring onions, chopped

4 rashers streaky bacon

150g sweetcorn (that’s a large handful) or the kernels of one fresh corn

2 bay leaves

some thyme leaves, about for or five sticks’ worth of leaves?

200-ishg prawns. Not King prawns, like Dublin Bay prawns.

1.5 pints chicken stock

200ml single cream


1 Fry together in a spirited way the spring onion, potato and bacon with about a tablespoon of olive oil for 10 minutes. Add the chilli if you’re using it. Also put in the bay leaves and thyme.

2 Throw in the sweetcorn and stir it all around a bit. Then add the chicken stock. When this is at a gentle simmering point then add the haddock and prawns and let it simmer for about 12 minutes.

3 When the haddock is cooked and opaque add the single cream and stir gently because you don’t want to smash up the haddock. Try the potato to see if it’s cooked, it might need another 10 mins simmering. Keep cooking until the potato is cooked then serve. We had it with a few slices of cheddar on top, which sounds wrong and disgusting but was in fact terrific.