Losing weight is one of the top New Year’s resolutions – justifiably so. 60% of Australians plan to lose weight (and that was before their cricket team was crushed by England in the Ashes series, gloat gloat). Eating less and exercising more is slow and boring: hence the appetite (sic) for miracle diets.
Let me add one. It’s expensive, inconvenient, and I have no evidence for it: in this market, these are features not bugs. Here we go: airline meals. Just find a trade supplier at your nearest hub airport, and talk them into sending you a daily supply. Air France or Royal Thai business class if you can get them.
Airline meals are small. The specifications are set by the airlines, and they are not telling, but the calorie count is obviously low. Passengers don’t complain. The airline catering managers are presumably trying to see how little food they can get away with, and it isn’t much. How do they get away with it? Partly because in pure sedentary conditions, we are satiated with far less than we are in the habit of eating. Partly because the meal-let is presented in three tiny courses: salad, main course, dessert, often cheese as well. So it feels like a “proper meal” not a snack.
The scheme seems to work for aircrew. Cabin staff are quite active physically, but flight crew are as sedentary as passengers, and you don’t see many fatties among them. (Leave aside for the moment the regular and draconian medicals.)
I see no reason why the scheme shouldn’t work at home. To the very limited extent diets are effective, they work by a combination of displacing seriously bad-for-you stuff, and psychological trickery including placebo effects. So all diets fail for most, and work for a few. Whatever does it for you.
Matt Yglesias has lost weight – his sensible tips here. I do quibble at his True Grit advice to drink hard liquor instead of beer. Surely the calorie content of booze is all in the ethanol, unless you go for frightful girly stuff with lots of free sugar? And for a given ethanol intake, the more fluid the better. Basically, reduce the ethanol.
Another idea worth trying is Ian Ayres’ prior-commitment scheme. You make a bet with yourself, and pay a real cost if you backslide.
PS: The real airline meal I describe is a vanishing thing. Budget airlines in Europe sell you food on board: fair enough, except that the selection is dire. Instant soup if you are lucky.
I came across the best solution once when flying from Frankfurt to West Berlin in the old days. Legally, it was an international flight – four-power agreement and all that -, so Lufthansa were or felt obliged to offer food for the 45-minute hop. On the other hand, Bonn’s political line was that West Berlin was an integral part of the Bundesrepublik. The political triangulation resulted in a self-service sandwich buffet in the boarding lounge: pack your own brown bag. Fine. Why isn’t this done more? The cost savings would be so enormous that the airlines could offer first-rate ingredients – truffle pâté, smoked trout, fresh strawberries – and still come out well ahead.