I’m a member of a secret cult, even weirder than that of those blog. It’s a kind of social experiment. It’s stranger than fiction. It’s big in California, and in blogland, but no-one’s heard of it in London or Ladenburg. It’s gained currency through blogging, and one of those blogs has become a book. It’s called the Shangri-La diet.
It’s diet heaven. First of all, you remove no food sort. In fact, you have to eat MORE. I have been Shanging for four and a half weeks and have lost four kilograms (that’s nearly nine pounds). I am a Weight Watchers veteran, and still recommend it to anyone who needs the support of a weekly group and the threat of the weekly weigh-in, but it took me SIX MONTHS to lose four kilograms on WW. Shangri-La is also free, unless you buy the book, which you don’t actually need to since all the information you need is available on the web, as is the support group. So it’s free, it’s quick and it works.
Let me tell you a little more. First of all, there’s loads of science behind it, which I’m not going to explain here because I’m not a scientist and I still haven’t got my head around it yet. There are some links at the end where you can read more, and it’s worth doing because it’s fascinating. Anyway! Here’s the deal: in the morning, one full hour after you’ve eaten or had any flavour in your mouth (that goes for toothpaste and your morning coffee too) you have either:
- one to three tablespoons of sugar diluted in 1.5 litres of water
- a tablespoon of extra light olive oil
Then you wait another full hour before putting anything except water into your mouth. Repeat again after lunch.
I’m doing the sugar water, because I rather like sugar, the thought of schlucking oil grosses me out and also because extra light olive oil is kind of hard to find in downtown Ladenburg. The result is that you LOSE YOUR APPETITE. I have a life-long snack habit: I’m always hanging around the fridge wondering what to eat next or having a taste of whatever my kids are eating. While at mealtimes I always make healthy choices I can’t resist second helpings. In the last four and a half weeks I have stopped snacking and I eat three small to medium meals a day. In fact last night, I skipped supper because I just wasn’t hungry. Let me assure you: this has never happened in my life before – I am ALWAYS hungry.
The basic theory is that flavourless calories fill you up. Shangri-La is teaching us to eat like our ancestors, except that we don’t need to store fat against the lean years because – barring nuclear fallout or an early Ice Age – the lean years aren’t going to come. There are other theories: eating foods with a strong calorie-flavour association makes you fat (ie try to eat bland), foods that always taste the same (fast foods) make you fat because of the calorie-flavour association (so you try to vary the flavours of what you eat). It’s also recommended that you try to eat low GI foods and avoid alcohol. I’ve done all of the above, but with no concerted effort – I’ve enjoyed meals in restaurants (I was often too full for dessert – that’s a first), I often have an ice-cream with my kids, I’ve had the odd glass of wine. And it still works!
The diet was invented and tested – on himself – by a Berkeley psychology professor called Seth Roberts. His site is informative and useful. There are forums where you can register and ask questions, Seth’s blog, links to other Shanging blogs and the science in detail. There are loads of articles from converts and sceptics alike. My best is this one from the converted sceptics over at Diet Blog.
For those who’re interested in the power of blogging, the popularity of this diet has spread via online testimonials. One person has amazing success, posts about it, inspires someone else and so on. Seth talks a bit about viral marketing and how it’s worked for him. His experiment and his blog came first, and after the success of both, he got an agent and a book deal.
For me, Shangri-La is not really a diet but a tool. As a usually healthy eater and a mild exerciser, this is exactly what I need: something to stave off the hunger pangs, help me to enjoy my meals without over-eating and stop the snacking. If you’ve got two kilograms to lose or twenty, it could just work for you.