Cut out food groups, but don’t expect them to go quietly
Time Out staff
‘Excuse me!’ a voice exclaims beside me. I glance to my left, where a buttery croissant gazes up at me.
I turn my head and stare intently ahead at the cashier. ‘Hello there,’ comes another seductive voice, this one from the cinnamon roll to my right. I take out my purse and hand over a Dhs20 note for my double-skinny-sugar-free-light-and-flavourless coffee, and turn quickly on my heel. ‘Hey!’ a louder voice calls behind me: I turn to see an enormous cheesecake bearing down on me behind the glass. I turn and break into a run, waves of tepid latte soaking my hand.
Since embarking on my latest carb-free fad diet in the run-up to Dubai’s party season, I’ve found that food now talks to me. Except it’s not really talking: it’s screaming. And it’s not broccoli howling my name. It’s the new festive muffins on display when I pick up my joyless coffee, it’s the oozing cheese manakish where I fork through tabbouleh at lunch, and it’s the rows and rows of fresh, warm rolls lining the bakery in Spinneys, which chant my name in chorus as I peruse the nearby cabbages.
It’s well documented that it’s easy to gain weight when living in Dubai. And in some instances, the offer and acceptance of food can involve all kinds of cultural etiquette, which makes absurd, self-invented diets such as mine even harder to stick to. Add to that the fact that I struggle with commitment (I recently embarked on a determined effort to make the most of my pool during the beautiful weather, which lasted a not-so-determined four days) and it winds up something of a personal Everest.
But until December 21, I have taken a vow of abstinence: no refined sugars or carbohydrates for me, thanks. And with many Dubaians wanting to look svelte when they jet home to see loved ones or hit the city’s swanky festive dos, I’m unlikely to be alone.
It’s not easy, particularly in a city with such an infectious, healthy appetite for good food. Ordering your shish taouk sans fries is one thing, but resisting those oh-so-innocent-looking canapés and miniature mince pies is quite another.
But I’m becoming more resilient to the incredulous looks when I ask for steamed vegetables instead of the double side of fries and rice, or the raised eyebrows when I get down on my knees and plead with them not to bring me irresistibly pillowy bread – I’m just not strong enough to resist it.
At least if it’s not on the table, I won’t be able to hear it calling to me. Now all I have to contend with is the growling in my stomach. Holly Sands is our Body & Mind editor. She can’t hear herself think in a bakery.