This all started when I had a falling out with the scales. Nothing major. Just a tantrum, tears, and overdramatic moans of ‘why am I getting ooooolddddd…’ (Olly at this point shook his head, and gave me a pep talk. This didn’t go down well). I eventually calmed down after sobbing into a pillow for three hours. However, I digress.

It appeared that my metabolism wasn’t quite satisfied with my love of pasta, wine and pizza. And so, with a due sense of anger and betrayal, I set about thinking what the next step could be.

The answer became clear, after I spent about 76 hours reading about food groups and diets: low carb, high protein, whole foods, less processed.

I say myself down, and sternly declared that yes, I will have to start meal planning. This is an undeniable truth. I have tried and tried to ignore this maxim, but… it’s true. This goes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I lack the self-control to not eat pasta for dinner every night if I haven’t got a solid plan and produce that is just waiting to go off in the fridge. The plan produces a combination of guilt and commitment that work well together. I have even invested in a chalkboard that hangs on the side of the fridge; it gives me side eye whenever I think about deviating from THE PLAN.

It is incredibly time consuming to plan all meals a week in advance; however, it does reduce money spent on shopping, there’s no ambiguity about dinner, and there is much less thinking about dinner during the work day.

(This is a lie. I think about dinner during the workday from 12.20-7.30pm. Lunch is something I think about from 9-12pm. There’s a brief window from 12-12.20 when I don’t think about dinner, and that’s only because I’m eating my lunch. There are very few instances in my life where I’m not thinking about food.)

I have found that this plan will not work if you are scheduled to eat absolutely nothing but bananas, salads and fish. For the mere mortal, this is just not possible. Some allowances have to be made, which is why a weekly meal ‘cheat’ is the route to staying both sane and on track. One meal won’t make you fat, and paradoxically one salad will not make you skinny (I know. Completely ridiculous).

The food I eat has to be interesting. I can’t eat the same salad four times in a week, unless it is extremely tasty. I invest in ingredients like spices and interesting vegetables. I don’t ban anything. Nothing is off limits. I stick to the principles and adjust so I can have the stuff I like. Like cheese. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love cheese.

It’s well worth coming up with some tasty dinners. Healthy ones. (Quick plug, have you checked out some of my recipes?) But they have to be good to eat, and you have to feel like you’ve had a meal and not just a salad, again. The Hairy Dieter’s Cookbooks do some great ones. Pinch of Yum do some amazing stuff. Think spicy, if that’s your thing, think complex flavours; you’ll feel more satisfied. Avoid long recipes with long lists of ingredients if you haven’t got two hours to spend on cooking, or are unwilling to. Dinner is not an olympic event, it shouldn’t feel like one.

Overall, yes, it’s hard. But if I, the laziest, most grouchy human bean can do it, you can too. And don’t let anybody who tells you brown rice and plain chicken is an acceptable dinner on diet. Food is to be celebrated, not massacred. These people are masochists, and no one wants to hear from them.