Ever since my doctor probed my cholesterol level and told me that average was too high, I've been eating really well. Almost puritanically so, in fact. I've been avoiding all those evil fat-rich foods in the red column, and trying to learn to love the extra-healthy stuff in the green column. Really, I hadn't previously realised quite how much fun a man could have eating button mushrooms. Nor how exciting it could be to nibble almonds as a mid-evening snack. And if the world's stocks of salmon suddenly nosedive, that'd be because I've recently recognised the benefits of fish-swallowing several times a week. Ah yes, it's the low-cholesterol lifestyle for me.
I'm trying ever so ever so hard to eat like an angel. If someone brings a box of doughnuts or minibites into the office, I'm giving it a miss. If a plate of biscuits is passed round at a meeting, I'm taking nothing. If I suddenly feel the urge for a KitKat or a packet of crisps in the evening, I'm reaching for a carrot instead. And when I walk past the fish and chip shop on the way home, I may breathe in and sigh but I always keep walking. Hell, I haven't even licked an Easter Egg recently. How do people keep this up forever?
I'm learning to walk around supermarkets whilst avoiding certain previously favourite aisles. I'm managing to put together a fairly well-balanced diet using a limited number of non-thrilling ingredients. But the biggest problems come when I attempt to eat out. I'm a damned fussy eater, and there's not always something on the menu that I both will eat and can eat. That steak looks nice, but it'll have to be the chicken. That chicken looks nice but it's smothered in cream. That cheesecake looks gorgeous, but both cheese and cake are off limits. And that vegetable tofu stir-fry may be medically acceptable but quite frankly I'd rather starve. Please, don't bother suggesting nice healthy meals that you think I'll enjoy, because I almost certainly won't.
And then there's porridge. Thank you all for your astonishing response to my recent post about porridge. You've suggested sufficient hints, tweaks and additional swirly additions for me to be able to enjoy a different porridge-y taste every day for an entire month. I've settled on chucking in a handful of dried fruit and a dollop of (low sugar) strawberry jam, or perhaps a slightly too large spoonful of sticky sweet golden syrup drizzled greedily into the centre of a steaming bowl. I've cut down on milk and upped the water content, as you suggested. And yes, thanks, now it's edible. Although I've since splashed out on some proper organic Scottish oatflakes, like you recommended, but I don't yet have the knack of making them taste like anything other than non-adhesive flapjacks. Not even after a good overnight soaking. I may have to go back to the cheap own-brand wood shavings I was enjoying previously.
Only another five weeks and then I can have another blood test to see if my extra-healthy diet has had any effect. I'm not sure which I'm dreading more, the possibility that my cholesterol levels haven't budged an inch, or the success of a diet I couldn't possibly maintain for 40 years.
Diet update: 3 weeks in Chocolate: nil (over Easter!) (go on, admit you're impressed) Chips: just one small serving of low fat oven chips Crisps: nil (I'm nibbling carrots, grapes and almonds instead) Cheese: just three thin slices of tasteless low-fat plastic Red meat: just one pack of extra lean beef mince Weight lost: five pounds (2½kg) (woo!)