Fast? I can't even diet properly

Yom Kippur was sabotaged by my need for caffeine, alcohol and Manolo Blahniks

By Venetia Thompson, September 21, 2010

With every year that passes, just as I am starting to feel a bit more Jew-ish than the year before, I run slap bang into Yom Kippur and realise that perhaps I'm not ready to embrace my Jewish roots after all. This year was no exception. It's the fasting. I love the idea in theory, but I simply can't do it. So this is my confession: I'm Venetia Thompson, and I can't manage 25 hours without (in order of importance) coffee, wine, mascara, or my patent leather Manolo Blahnik stilettos. Not to mention butter. So I apologise to all my Jewish friends who thought I was fasting for the first time: I didn't. I had every intention of attempting it, and actually doing it without cheating, but I failed. I coped for a couple of hours, then caffeine withdrawal led to migraine-ridden mental paralysis. I soon found myself unable to write, lustfully eyeing the Nespresso machine, wondering whether I could manage to fit my head under its nozzle and get an instant hit of caffeine down my throat. I'm a journalist: we simply can't function without coffee. Whether for health or religious reasons, fasting has never been my forte – it's far too much like my other least favourite activity: dieting. My fridge is still groaning under the weight of a draw full of mouldy lemons left over from my attempt at the Lemonade Diet (a ten-day fast that permits only the consumption of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup in "lemonade" form). It was an ill-fated last-minute effort to lose some weight before my book launch party, and I managed a whole day (although I may have swigged maple syrup out of the bottle a couple of times), and even lost a couple of pounds, but sadly gained 50 lemons. I know that according to the popular inspirational quote you're supposed to "make lemonade when life hands you lemons", but instead I have just left them in the fridge. They are an ever-present, rotting reminder of my failed attempt at fasting. Of course, before there were lemons, there was the high protein, high fat, zero carb Atkins diet. That one saw me consume nothing but clotted cream, strawberries, steak and cheese for days. It was heaven at first, and I thought I'd finally found the key to weight loss, but I was soon having erotic dreams about the fresh baguettes at Le Pain Quotidien, so I decided to give up, lest I do something silly in the nearest bakery. It doesn't take an HND in psychology to work out that my problem with Yom Kippur is that I associate it with fad diets, rather than introspection and quiet contemplation. I've developed a Pavlov reaction to the word "fast" that results in the panicked consumption of as much caffeine, bread, butter, steak and wine as possible. I'm hoping to work on this in time for next year, as I'm fully aware that those who find fasting difficult probably need it the most. So I'll be getting my eyelashes dyed in advance, taking Pro Plus caffeine pills at regular intervals, and perhaps even popping a sleeping pill. I'm guessing that medicating yourself is probably cheating, and that an integral part of self-examination and reflecting on the past year is maintaining consciousness, but at least I won't be eating. One step at a time…

Alex Brummer is City Editor of the Daily Mail

    Last updated: 6:16am, September 29 2010