Would Eva Longoria Parker eat it? That is the question I ask when confronted with every snack or meal in the size zero city that is LA’s Beverly Hills.
When I arrived here on April 1st, I was eight stone eight pounds (or 120 pounds, as they say here), which is not gross, but still too heavy for my five foot frame. Despite my having lost over a stone a year ago, largely by firstly cutting out and then drinking just a little alcohol, the pounds had started to pile back on, and I found my cheekbones once more starting to compete with my second chin.
So, coming to the supremely health-conscious LA seemed a good place to begin again, and, at an exquisite size four (UK size) and the same height as me, the American size zero (or double zero, I suspected) Desperate Housewives star was the woman I looked to for inspiration.
To date, I have lost another 14 pounds by following my plan (no food, no drinks, no leaving the treadmill) – a whole stone! – and now weigh 7 st 8 lbs (106 lbs! Sorry, but it really excites me).
A plate of crisps arrives at my table in the five star Beverly Wilshire Hotel (still my favourite place and where I stayed before I found an apartment) and I look at them longingly before asking: Would Eva Longoria eat them? Well, no. You don’t get to be and maintain a size zero, not to mention acquire a perfect mouth that looks as if it has just had a lipstick manicure, by ramming a plate of deep fried potatoes down your throat.
So, it’s farewell to the crisps. When they bring my English breakfast tea, it arrives with a long dish of Italian sweetmeats and biscuits. Would Eva Longoria eat them? Only if you chloroformed her first and force-fed them.
I apply the same rule to all bars and restaurants. This week, I went for lunch in Il Fornaio: a lovely, friendly Italian establishment on Canon Drive, and looked longingly down their list of pastas. Spaghetti Calamari and Broccoli, Fusilliani alla Trentina, Tarte Con Argosta – all unusual dishes that I had never seen on Italian menus in the UK. And, as I went down the list, I asked over and over: Would Eva Longoria eat it? No, no, no. Just a black espresso for me, please.
Asking the question is a guaranteed way to lose weight, and I believe that I have inadvertently stumbled upon the perfect diet: because the answer to the question “Would Eva Longoria eat it?” is always going to be No.
I suspect that Eva, like every other thin woman in LA, enjoys playing with the occasional leaf – without dressing (are you crazy?) – and, to this end, I am now perfecting the art of steering a leaf around my plate, without ever consuming it, while giving the impression that I am stuffing my face. Over the radish, under the yellow pepper, slalom over the red onion – I can make a leaf’s journey around my plate last longer than a Grand Prix. And, by the end of its course, it really does look half consumed.
Another technique sure to bring about this apparition of greed is to place the weight of a cherry tomato in the middle of, say, a mound of rocket: it flattens the centre of the display to such an extent, your dining companion might be tempted to tell you to slow down, for fear of your developing indigestion through over-eating.
Or, you can achieve the weighing down technique by moving all your rocket to the side of your plate, taking a piece of bread (obviously, without eating a crumb), ripping it in two and squashing it down at each end of your rocket pile, thereby giving the appearance of real over-indulgence – carbs, heaven forbid: the woman’s a pig – yet leaving the restaurant thinner, albeit starving.
Beverly Hills restaurants are very tolerant of the non-eating diner. My lunch in Il Fornaio lasted three hours, during which both my guest and I ate not a morsel and consumed just two bottles of water. One of my British friends, also new to LA but still keen on her food (how quaint – she’ll learn) bemoans this aspect of the culture. She says she gets invited to breakfast meetings where there is no breakfast, and spends the whole time wondering when the bacon and eggs are coming.
Of course, I knew before I came here that drinking in public was pretty much a no-no, but especially so during the day. If the answer to Would Eva Longoria eat it? is No, the answer to Would Eva Longoria drink it? is: You must be insane. Glass of champagne? 150 calories. Dry white wine? 120. You don’t shrink to the kind of shape that gets blown away in an LA earthquake by consuming empty calories.
So, with my new Eva Longoria eating and drinking plan, my weight is once more heading in the right direction, and this week I bought my first (of many, I hope) size zero jeans.
Eva Longoria, eat your heart out.
Oh, I forgot: you can’t. Too many calories.