Christmas is coming! Cookie recipes paper the walls of the kitchen! So of course it’s time to talk dieting.

There was a time for a while that ‘dieting’ was a dirty word, not sure why, and not sure if it still prevails. So let’s agree that what we’re talking about here is the effort to keep something of a lid on what you eat. No one likes to refrain from eating something they desire (luuust for) but sometimes it’s necessary.

A list of formally set-out diets would fill a book. Atkins.  Weight Watchers. Paleo. A while ago I was describing to a friend what I was trying to avoid eating, and she said, “Oh, the no-white-food diet.”

My father for a while followed (with about as much success as you’d expect) a diet whereby every meal started with half a fresh grapefruit. Just grapefruit juice wouldn’t work, it had to be an actual half.  Lord Byron tried the similar ‘vinegar diet’: two or three teaspoons of cider vinegar before each meal.

Some people I know did the Nutrisystem diet (pre-fab meals delivered to your house) and lost a lot of weight, which was good, because their health was threatened by excess weight. Expensive, though. Too bad, because having all your meals delivered to the house, and never having to set foot in a grocery store again, sounds very appealing.

How about the phentermine diet? Phentermine is a prescription appetite suppressant that enables you to stop stand gazing longingly into the fridge all day. Talk to your doctor, though, to see what shape your heart is in.

Then there are the fat-absorption inhibitors, going by the names Xenical and Alli. “Fat-absorption inhibitor”… can you figure out from the name how it might work? Yes, it stops your body processing as much as 30% of the fat you consume. But that fat has to go somewhere, right? I suppose this could be called the “brown-pants diet”. Thus it makes sense that you should try to cut down on fat-consumption whilst taking this pill.

We want to go on record as officially discouraging heroine or cocaine diets.

Personal anecdote: I’ve lost 9lb over the last couple of months, which puts me in the doctor’s recommended 1lb a week weight-loss rate. What’s worked best in this is buying the salads that come from the Trader Joe grocery chain, the ones that come in a clear plastic box.  Read the calorie count on the back: sometimes the total is about 300, sometimes dressing brings the calorie total up as high as 500. I jiggle the dressing (use half what they supply, or use a small amount of my own oil-and-balsamic vinaigrette) to bring the calorie count to about 300.  Three of these salads a day gives me a very good dose of mixed greens and vegetables, and enough protein for the day.  They taste delicious, and I feel full afterwards. Then, a couple dozen cashews at bedtime, because who can sleep on an empty stomach?

This is what works for me, because it restricts choices. If I have to fiddle with counting this and balancing that, I’d drop out in no time flat.

My doctor is happy with it. It really cuts down on the tedium of grocery shopping, which I loathe.

There’s occasional booze. Very little by way of desserts. No bread, which I thought would kill me, but it didn’t. And can I tell you how great it is to feel my jeans get loose? Two more pounds lost and I’ll have to start wearing a belt!

Now – tell us what you do to keep your weight under control, either on a long-term basis or to knock off a few pounds when you feel the need.

PS: people with underlying health problems – you know who you are! Do not fart around with your diet without talking to your doctor. Even healthy people should not embark on radical changes to their food-intake without talking to a professional first.  Got that? Good.

PPS: people who can eat whatever they want and not gain weight? Go suck rocks. I used to be one of you but HA HA GUESS WHAT it doesn’t last forever.