As a restaurant critic, every day I live as though recently demobbed in a world after wartime rationing, where, suddenly IÕve never had it so good.  ItÕs as though IÕve been wandering in the desert for forty of my forty four years and suddenly discovered the novelty of (gosh) butter with my (what luxury!) baguette, petit fours (the joy!) with my coffee and, of course, (itÕs a miracle!) pudding. But when it comes to my rapidly expanding body IÕm still at war.  I suffer from post-traumatic food disorder.  I promise IÕll leave half of everything on my plate, refuse alcohol and avoid chocolate, but, within seconds, IÕm digging my fork for victory, once again.

ItÕs tempting to think that all I need are the constant attentions of a nutritionist but it isnÕt Š itÕs a straightjacket.  I know the rules; I just canÕt stop myself breaking them.  Vicky pointed out the obvious, have salad, eat two starters, banish the bread rolls from the table (I didnÕt dare ask about butter) chose fish over fat, tell the kitchen to leave out dairy and salt - but she might as well stab me to death with the steak knife.  Yes, I hate being fat, but not so secretly, I like being me.  I exercise and try to watch my diet, but I donÕt have the personality to be a nutritional watchdog and though I admired VickyÕs trim figure and healthy attitude to food, even with my own podgy cheeked reflection taunting me in the mirrored screen in LondonÕs Belvedere restaurant, I discovered that IÕm quite happy to go to hell in my own bread-basket if the alternative is 24/7 resolve.

Even if she was Antonio Banderas and offered to marry me I wouldnÕt want that kind of control.   I thought that eating out with a nutritionist would be like dining with my mother: the ŌyouÕre not really/italics/ going to eat that Š insert carbohydrate here Š school of diet advice, but Vicky didnÕt slap my hands once.  Not even when I thoughtlessly plopped a sugar cube the size of the lost city of Atlantis into my thimble of espresso Š (Š ooh get the behind me caffeine).  She very sensibly pointed out the dangers of refined sugar and I pretended to be the kind of person who cared.  It was going like seeing my shrink, to whom I also lied (about smoking, money and sex).  Then after my very healthy lunch of salad, fish, one glass of wine (but not on an empty stomach) a bottle of water and no dessert, I came healthily home.  And made toast.

But I will go be seeing her again for advice on hypertension and Blood Sugar.  Just not for lunch.