Just don’t eat cheese for a month

I was in hospital the other day waiting patiently with everyone else for the slow receptionist to call my partner’s number.  I am not exaggerating when I say slow either, this lady took an hour to check that two people had appointments. On her third outpatient she suddenly upped and left,  not saying a word to the guy who was being booked in and accompanied a tearful woman to a room next to where I was sitting. She gave the lady a ticket for the car park and proceeded to give her the following advice: “Don’t eat cheese for a month and you’ll be fine”. Now, this lady had obviously just come from the cardiac ward. The receptionist trivialised her problem and sent her on her way. The lady was upset. The receptionist dismissive. The lady stood there for a moment, repeated what the receptionist had said and shed another tear. The receptionist went back to making sure that no-one would be on time for their appointments.

I wonder how the lady is getting on with no cheese. She might be thinking “But how can this be so? I live in the Mediterranean, everyone knows that they follow the healthiest diet on the planet, right? and cheese is part of that diet”. She has probably decided that the ricotta she puts on her Pasta alla Norma doesn’t count, nor the parmesan for that matter. One thing is for certain, she will have got advice from everyone she knows, solicited or not.

I have piled on the pounds since coming here. I too have thought “but how can this be so? I am living in the Mediterranean, everyone knows that they follow the healthiest diet on the planet, right?” I, too, have been advised to stay off the cheese and somehow I have managed it but I am not convinced that this is the problem. The truth is, Italians consume vast amounts of pasta and white bread. Most of them have a sweet tooth. The sweets that they have here are amazing. If you have a drink, you get given all sort of mini pizzas, salted peanuts and small arancini to go with it. The ice-cream here is the best ever. Lots of tavola calda is consumed. Tavola calda translates as ‘hot tables’, they are essentially savoury snacks, usually made of bread or pastry or deep fried. There is temptation at every corner. Cheese is only part of the problem.

As I am trying to lose the weight that I have gained, I am avoiding temptation. This means not entering bars and averting my eyes when I walk past them. It means, not eating out. I am walking more to work but as everyone drives here I am breathing in fumes the whole way. I stare at skinny people stuffing their faces. I drool if someone puts a cake in front of me as I explain that I just can’t have any, not even a tiny mouthful. I’ve sat and watched my partner and our dog eat a pizza together.

And you know what? It’s working!

I’m still a little, robust, shall we say, but last week I had to buy a new belt.Pulling your jeans up every two seconds is not a good look. I ventured into a little shop and a kind lady helped me choose one before putting it around my waist to work out where her husband should punch the holes. She squeezed it a little tighter than I had and asked if that would be better. I replied that it would as I hope to lose more weight. At that moment, her husband chortled and said “hope is the last  to die”. He obviously had no faith in me but when I go back in another few weeks to get more holes punched because I am already on the last one, it’ll be me who is chortling.

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