You can barely move in the gym, let alone find the space to do anything that can be construed as actual exercise.
Five of your colleagues are sticking to Paleo, two others swear by Atkins . But you won’t eat anything that isn’t obliterated into liquid form.
Yes, it’s January.
Every gym owner and nutritionist’s dream month - the time of year when our very raison d’être is to get fit, lose weight and brag about how good we feel for it on Facebook.
But while some of our 2016 attempts at eating better seem less-than-healthy at best and slightly strange at worst, they’re nothing on some of the diets endured by bygone generations.
So, here’s a look at some landmark and some downright ludicrous moments in the history of dieting.
Dieting 19th Century style
There rarely seems to be a day that a celebrity-endorsed diet doesn’t make headlines. But celebrities stressing about how much they weigh is nothing new. Lord Byron was an early exponent of shedding the pounds. In the 1820s, he was said to be so concerned about his weight that he lived off just biscuits and soda water and vinegar-drenched potatoes for a while.
Believe it or not, the roots of the low carb diets we know and loathe today can be found in the Victorian era. The 1860s saw a short, fat undertaker become a household name for extolling the virtues of a diet not dissimilar to that which made Dr Atkins famous more than a century later.
William Banting’s high-protein, low-carb diet even saw his name added to the Oxford English Dictionary – to ‘Bant’ became the vernacular for dieting.
The chewing diet
The early 20th Century saw one of history's more bizarre diets grip the public’s imagination. Introduced by American marksman Horace Fletcher, the aim of the game was to chew every mouthful of food at least 32 times before swallowing.
Fletcher believed that hasty eating led to a backlog of undigested food, ultimately clogging up one’s colon and causing one to get fat. However, I’m convinced the diet was only a success because of the number of calories burned by all that mastication.
Weight watching in the White House
The United States’ only ever hugely obese president, William Howard Taft, sought dietary advice in the early 20th century after his weight apparently caused him to get stuck in a White House bathtub!
Learning to count… calories!
Lulu Hunt Peters became a best-selling author when she released her book Diet & Health: With Key to the Calories – the first to popularise calorie counting as a method of weight control.
Also known as the Hollywood Diet, the world-renowned Grapefruit Diet became a thing in the 1930s. Low on carbs, it was largely based on the idea that the humble grapefruit contains a fat-burning enzyme which helps stave off the pounds.
The "Flatulence" Diet
Flatulence-inducing and not exactly a riot for the tastebuds, the Cabbage Soup Diet became popular in the 1950s. It’s origins are apparently unknown, but this seven-day plan still remains popular. As the name suggests, it consists largely of cabbage soup, with a bit of fruit, veg and meat thrown in for much-needed variety.
Liquid lunch anyone?
A diet that’s a little easier to get on board with emerged in the middle of the Swinging Sixties. In 1964, San Francisco bon viveur Robert Cameron devised a low carb, high fat diet which (in theory) allowed you to count the dwindling pounds while ignoring the number of alcoholic units you were putting away. Fortunately, what Cameron described as ‘man type’ food in The Drinking Man’s diet – i.e. great chunks of steak and fish – were naturally low carb. And so were a few of his favourite drinks.
According to Cameron, as long as you stuck to distilled spirits such as gin, whisky, vodka and rum (which all contain minimal carbs apparently), you could get as sozzled as you liked without falling off the dieting wagon. Naturally, his book was panned by Frederick Stare, founder of the Harvard School of Public Health, several years after its release. But, by then, it had sold millions of copies and made Cameron enough money to splash out on a round or two of drinks.
The Sleeping Beauty Diet
Perhaps the most ludicrous of all diets was one which gained notoriety in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The notion was that if you’re not awake you can’t eat cake. Sounds fair enough right? But the reality involved downing enough sleeping pills to bring about a drug-induced state of sedation to sleep off the pounds. Thankfully, we seem to have woken up to the fact that this is a terrible idea.
The early ‘70s saw a certain Dr Robert Atkins shoot to fame following the publication of his low-carb, high-fat, high protein diet in his book Dr Atkins Diet Revolution. It’s re-emergence in the early ‘00s saw millions more of us shed the pounds by gorging on meat and shunning potatoes. It gained particular fame because of its popularity among celebrity dieters.
In the Zone
The Zone Diet became popular during the ‘90s, with celebs such as Demi Moore and Jennifer Anniston reportedly said to be fans. It went against the grain of pretty much every other diet in that it promoted relatively high carb consumption. Cooked up by Barry Sears and Bill Lawren, the plan basically instructed participants to divide their breakfast, lunch and dinner plates to 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% of ‘favourable’ carbs each day.
'Me on diet. Me lose weight'
Recent years have seen a resurgence in a new version of a very old diet. Based on caveman principles, it allows dieters to eat foods that our Palaeolithic ancestors might have enjoyed such as nuts, berries and meat. But eating anything processed is strictly forbidden.