FOR THE past decade my weight has barely fluctuated by more than a kilo or two.
My wardrobe is smugly stocked with clothes that are a near perfect fit. No relics of the days when I was a size 14 remain even in the darkest recesses of my spare jumper cupboard.
Itâ€™s been a most satisfactory state of affairs. But one that seems to be coming to an end.
Personally, I blame Easter, and Christmas, and my birthday. Or, to be more precise, I blame chocolate for the arrival of what I can only, and painfully, describe as the onset of middle aged spread. Chocolate spread, no less.
In fact, I blame chocolateâ€™s ubiquitous presence at all celebratory events for much of the nationâ€™s weight problems.
Think about it. Chocolate is everywhere. The supermarkets and shops are full of tempting chocolate treats, even when itâ€™s not Christmas. Someoneâ€™s birthday? No problem, stuff them with Belgian chocolate until their pancreas packs in. Want to say thank you? Thatâ€™s what Cadburyâ€™s Roses were invented for.
Sadly chocolate is one of the most calorific substances known to man. Iâ€™m also of the belief that itâ€™s highly addictive. Cocoa is my drug of choice.
Hereâ€™s a shocker. The average 100g milk chocolate bar contains 530 calories, which is about one quarter of the average womanâ€™s recommended calorie intake.. My own particular weakness, Cadburyâ€™s chocolate fingers, are 30 each, and we all know how easy it is to dispose of an entire box of them. (Iâ€™m also partial to Green and Blackâ€™s dark stuff at 500 calories a bar).
I canâ€™t pretend that I havenâ€™t known all this for quite a long time. I suspect we all know, deep in our chocolate-loving hearts, that each luscious melting bite is packed with lardiness and insulin-busting sugariness. But, like true addicts, we choose to ignore it.
In fact, we even defend our habit by pretending that chocolate is a health food. Weâ€™ve certainly had plenty of support on that front.
Dark chocolate, many sources will reliably inform you, is positively crammed with antioxidants and substances called flavanols, which makes it better than broccoli or goji berries and a damn sight tastier.
I have long held onto this piece of good news. But, while researching this article, I unearthed some disturbing, shall we say, heretical, information.
Apparently, some manufacturers actually REMOVE the flavanols from dark chocolate because they impart a somewhat bitter taste, thereby rendering this wonder food to the status of a mere sugary snack food. Whatâ€™s more, even the darkest of chocolates still contains devilish amounts of fat and sugar. This information came from that esteemed medical journal The Lancet so, Iâ€™m afraid, has to be taken seriously.
Distressing though this is, it does make it slightly easier to stick to my new chocolate-free diet, which was going quite well until I discovered a rich seam of uneaten Easter eggs in Firstbornâ€™s bedroom.
â€œIâ€™m leaving them for you,â€™â€™ he said, upon his departure back to uni this week. And, of course, they all have use-by dates that expire before he returns.
I must think of my waistline and not the delicious melting sensation and serotonin/endorphin hit of cocoa in all its many seductive forms.