Between now and Christmas you are entering a danger zone

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The mince pies are out in Tesco. Remember New Year’s Eve, when you made that resolution to shed some weight?

You dieted like mad back in March and April because you wanted to look good in that bikini or your Speedos for those two days on the beach which mattered.

Sadly, that’s all over. Dark nights, cold weather, a time for the comfort of food. But if you’re not blessed with a catwalk figure, or a rippling six-pack, then between now and Christmas you’re entering a danger zone.

I come from a long genetic line of fatties. I’m the lucky one, as I vary across the flabby year from 16 to 18 stone. Name a diet, I’ve tried it. Currently it’s the 5:2 diet, but there’s been the Atkins diet, the Slim-Fast and Weight Watchers diets, and all kinds of home grown attempts featuring grapefruit, fish, bananas, salad, exotic herbal teas.

Oddly enough, the ‘experts’ on dieting who tell us in the portly brigade how to slim are often skinny, the kind of people who don’t put on a single ounce after drinking four pints, calling at the chippy on the way home and scoffing a packet of Hobnobs before turning in.

They’ve never experienced the misery of the XXXL label or the broken bathroom scales.

Do diets work? Some do, but only if you alter your lifestyle too. Eight out of 10 dieters fail to keep the weight off for any extended period of time.

The slimming industry trades on this - it means you’ll keep coming back again and again.

If, like me, you’re prone to creeping obesity, you have to take a different attitude to food. I have stopped thinking of it as ‘pleasure’. It is simply highly-rationed ‘fuel’. Once you start being ecstatic about food, it becomes your enemy. And yes, counting calories does work.

Check every label, and don’t delude yourself by imagining that a Diet Coke ordered with a ten-inch deep pan pizza is a diet. It’s a disaster.

Many people think that the answer is signing up at a gym. I did try it once. I remember clambering onto a machine called something like ‘the cruncher’, its vinyl surface still glistening with the rancid sweat of the preening narcissist who had just vacated it.

There are less expensive ways of getting a hernia. I know - I’ve had three. Gyms seem illogical. Apart from the opportunity to wear a clammy leotard, gyms make you ride bikes which go nowhere as others walk or jog on the spot on a rolling rubber surface, when just beyond the gym wall is the big wide real world where you could run properly, cost-free in the fresh air or ride a real bike.

Yet something must be done. A quarter of all UK adults are now obese. Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, tells us “Obesity is the new smoking, and it represents a slow-motion car crash in terms of avoidable illness and rising health care costs.” Being fat isn’t funny. It’s misery, but if smokers can pack it in, overweight people can toughen up too.