Dieting 5:2, 24/7

Lately it seems I’m surrounded by people (mostly ‘wimmin’) talking about diets. We’re talkin’ 24/7. Despite this, only a teeny minority of us actually engage in some class of meaningful dietary modification. I’m including yours truly in the majority here. Yet I continue on my merry healthy eating information-gathering journey… All the better to make an exceptionally well-informed decision in the unlikely event I ever deign to make a decent stab at a diet I suppose.

I have started diets several times but I’ve never lasted for more than 8 or so hours.

The most memorable ‘breaking of a diet’ that springs to mind is my fleeting attempt at a ‘no carbs for Marbs’/Atkins-eque diet while living in France on Erasmus ten years ago. (Also, HOW has it been a FULL DECADE fml??) My housemate Zara and I dutifully ate the house clean of all carbs the day before ‘quit day’. We had quite the feast. We even skipped around the market foraging for foods on the ‘permitted’ list: #MealPrepToBeatTheBand. ‘I can’t wait to be skinny,’ we chanted, Cheshire cat grins firmly in place and eyes dancing with anticipation. (FYI neither of us even had weight to lose; youth is definitely wasted on the young… Sob.)

And so, we embarked on our no-carbs journey the very next day. Breakfast was fine. More than fine, it was fabulous. Buttery scrambled eggs and unctuous bacon get in ma belly! (Also a few green leaves for ‘presentation’… and Instagram only a twinkle in its parents’ eyes… How very prescient of me.) ‘How is anyone fat?’ we pondered, ‘when it’s this easy to lose weight… What fools they all are’. And more of the ‘I can’t wait to be skinny’ chat. There was even mention of joining the gym, the swanky gym with the trainer who’d remind you of Clive Owen only better looking, to further expedite the fat meltathon. But, sensible despite our tender years, we ultimately decided against subscribing and the foxy Guillaume did not outfox us with his better-than-Clive-Owen head (and bod). (Rest assured the fact that we were unable to sign up owing to our #BrokeAF status was mere coincidence.)

The thought of a fresh pain au chocolat didn’t even cross my mind. Didn’t venture within an ass’s roar of it… Until a few hours later when we hit the proverbial wall. (We must have unusual physiologies or something ‘cos I know most right thinking members of society sail through the first day of a low/no carb diet.) We decided that dragging our weary, hypoglycaemic bodies downstairs and across the street to the pâtisserie with its trays for days of divine pastries and cakes was the only way forward: #TreatYourselfTuesday awaited us.

The only snag was our failure to recall the fairly fricking lengthy midday closing period of said pâtisserie. Merde!! As you can imagine, much grinding of teeth and clenching of fists and uttering of profanities ensued until poor Élodie got her shiz together to reopen the place and serve us. Let’s just say she probably no longer referred to us as the nice girls from across the street after that particular encounter.

(image via

(Up until that point, FYI, the lengthy midday closing periods of the surrounding businesses had enthralled us. How quaint, we’d thought. ‘You’d have to hand it to the French wouldn’t you,’ I’d say, ‘They stick to their guns, unlike the Irish who bend themselves every which way in the name of people-pleasing and money-making.)

Anywayz, I’m drifting as usual, but you get the picture: I’m not one for sticking to diets. As part of my aforementioned continuous healthy eating information-gathering journey, I completed an online survey last week to see what diet would be most suitable for me and my result was the 5:2 diet or some sort of intermittent fasting. This was on the basis of me answering the questions honestly, i.e. giving myself 0/10 for meal prep and organization and pre-empting where I’m eating next and so on. The only problem I foresee is their lack of knowledge about ‘my unusual physiology’ and inability to fast and what not but sure look the internet will only take you so far…

British doctor and journalist Michael Mosely ‘invented’ and popularised what’s known as the ‘fast diet’ after he lost 22 pounds and normalised his blood sugar levels with it, having previously been diagnosed with type 2 (‘adult-onset’) diabetes. It is also known as the 5:2 diet as 5 days of the week are spent  eating normally (but as healthily as possible, plenty of nutrients including vitamin D and omega-3 people!), while the other 2 days feature calorie restriction to the tune of 500-600 kcals per day. (c. 25% of your daily allowance, so roughly 500 for women on  a fasting day/2000 kcals on a non-fasting day and 600 for men on a fasting day/2500 kcals on a non-fasting day.) Ouch for the fasting days!

The idea (and major attraction for someone like moi) is that there are no rules per se for the 5 days of normal eating. And when you begin to approach your target weight, you can do the switcheroo to 6:1 days.

All the headlines for the 5:2, and similar diets incorporating intermittent fasting, claim that calorie restriction may be linked with:

  • enhancing your smarts
  • reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • reducing your risk of cancer (secondary to the anti-inflammatory effect of the intermittent fasting)
  • optimising your body’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol
  • improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin
  • reducing your blood sugar levels and
  • keeping you young and beautiful via its effect on lowering levels of the hormone IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1)

Lest you people get too carried away with the prospects of eternal youth and great health, there is clearly a need for further studies!

I don’t think I’d manage on 500 cals a day even if I wanted to (and I obvs don’t) and am not looking to lose much weight but I am conscious of constantly overworking my hanky-pancreas (the money-maker when it comes to insulin production guys). So, I’m going to make a concerted effort to eradicate my constant daily grazing which I imagine will prove exceedingly difficult when I’m surrounded by chocolate, cakes and biscuits all day e’er day at #werk… Sabotaging bastards of patients and colleagues and me, myself and I!! Sigh.

So now I have landed on the diet plan most suited to me, I just need to work on my legendary lack of willpower, laziness, proclivity towards binge-eating, restaurant FOMO and eating out of boredom. Simples.


My name is Michelle and I’m a Dublin-based GP (family doctor). Life is short: take the minimalist approach to maximise your health!

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  • Shaun
    March 27, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    It was dr. M mosley which also carried out the sugar free February which inspired

    • skipthescript
      Michelle Morris
      March 28, 2017 at 10:42 am



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