Falling off the meat wagon

Will Milner shares his dirty, greasy secret

The Knowledge

Too many late nights in the office sees Will Milner turning back to his old ways and admitting that he may have a bit of a problem.

I have a confession to make. To myself as much as anybody else. Admitting I have a problem, so I am told, is the first step to getting help. My family will be let down and colleagues will probably be disgusted. But I owe it to them, and myself, to say this and get it over with. Here goes.

I’ve started eating chicken shawarmas again.

Just getting it out there makes me feel better already. My guilty secret is shared. I used to have the occasional shawarma. Just one or two with friends and only at weekends. Nothing I couldn’t handle. But that was when I was young and I thought I could handle it. Fifteen years ago the thought of passing round a bag of shawarmas with buddies was cool. We would all tuck in.

But then I started having more. Eating shawarmas on my own when there was nobody else around. Hiding the wrappers so nobody knew I’d eaten them. Sometimes as many as half a dozen to myself. Several nights a week. They tasted so good I didn’t realise what I was doing. It wasn’t healthy and it had to stop. Thankfully, friends stepped in.

Call it an intervention if you like. When they spotted me waiting outside a Mirdif shawarma joint an hour before it opened, killing time, I realised enough was enough.

Of course I couldn’t stop overnight. There were relapses. Until one Christmas Day, ten years ago I had my last shawarma for nearly a decade. When I found myself stepping out of the house to go and gobble down a quick snack between courses of a huge evening dinner I knew I had to stop.

The next day, eating cold turkey sandwiches, I promised to kick the habit. And it worked. I stayed shawarma-free for years. I started dining out more, mixing in different circles and trying new foods. The fast food spell was broken.

Sure, there were times I was cooking a steak at home when I yearned for that taste again. I pined for pickle. I missed the meat. I wanted to savour the sauce. But it felt like my shawarma-chomping days were over.
Until last week. I fell of the wagon. I’d been working late, my family were all asleep and there was no food in the house. Just one couldn’t hurt could it?

They’re certainly a bit more expensive now. A whole Dhs4 for meat, chicken or spicy. But they taste just as good as ever and I’m hooked again. I’ll control it better this time. Never more than two at a time and only once a week. That seems doable, doesn’t it?

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