Uni life is all about making sacrifices. We find ourselves giving things up in order to make ends meet. This month, James Haydon discovers that a life without carbs is actually pretty crummy.


I thought I was good at giving things up. Over the years I’ve given up: alcohol, biting my nails, procrastination, sex, sleeping in, my mobile phone, being unfit, pineapples and Facebook. None of these stuck, but in spite of my pathetic lack of willpower I remained confident that I could give up carbs.

I am by no means a ‘manly man’. I can compliment a friend’s new hair, I might use a few too many products in the bathroom and I hold strong opinions on curtains. But I’d never gone on a diet before. Sure, from time to time, I’d look at myself in the mirror and think maybe I shouldn’t eat quite as many Tim Tams, but that resolution would only last a day or so until I became stressed, despondent or just bored. Then I’d raid the fridge in search of something sweet. But diets? Not even on my radar.

Men don’t really talk about diets. “Real men don’t go on diets! They go to the gym and lift heavy weights then THROW them on the ground and YELL at them to show them who’s boss. Real men STAB A GRIZZLY IN THE FACE and EAT IT and fall asleep on a bed made of MACHINE GUNS AND DINOSAUR BONES.”

The first two days passed without much trouble. I discovered what I couldn’t eat: things that tasted nice. Anything with sugar? Gone. This obviously meant chocolate and cake, but unfortunately also included milk, bread, rice (any grains, really), chips, fruits, sauces, juice and a million other things. What I could eat? Meat, cheese and vegetables, and don’t forget eggs.

After a few days, two things happened. First my body entered ketosis and started burning fat, which came with headaches and flu-like symptoms. That sucked. Second, I became incredibly boring and constantly talked about my stupid diet. This sucked for everybody else. It wasn’t intentional but I just couldn’t stop thinking about food, and this turned me into a really annoying guy.

Then, six days in, disaster struck. A friend of mine was going overseas so we had dinner at The Abercrombie before she left. “Burger and salad please,” I told the waitress. It was delivered with chips. My mouth began watering, but I sent them back for the salad. Then (horror of horrors), she brought both salad and chips back and said the “chips are on the house.”

They were free… did this count? At this point I realised I’d already devoured half the cup. So I scooped up the hamburger and went to town on it. My friend looked rather bemused, perhaps by what appeared to be my fifteen minutes of self-control or by the look of pure satisfaction that had spread across my face. The night, I’m ashamed to say, ended with a deep-fried Golden Gaytime…

I woke up the next morning feeling defeated. Was this it? Had I really plumbed the depths of my self-control and come up with five and a half days, followed by a hedonistic indulgence that would make Epicurus say, “Fucking hell, man! That’s a bit much!”

I summoned a new resolve; I could do this. Only eight more days and I didn’t plan to cheat again.

So I researched recipes. I discovered that I could eat tuna and consumed it with every form of cheese known to man. I dragged myself (with much wailing and gnashing of teeth) to the end of those light-headed and flavourless two weeks. Then, I introduced carbs slowly back into my diet, shedding the bad ones and entering into a kind of zen harmony with my food.

Except, no, I didn’t do that. I didn’t even come close. I gorged like a toddler who’d found a stash of chocolate. But by god, there was no absent-minded consumption here—­ I savoured every morsel.

And what did I learn? That carbs are delicious and I have absolutely no willpower. That talking about your diet doesn’t help you pick up girls; that meat only tastes nice when you can eat it with bread; and everything, EVERYTHING tastes better with sugar.