Is Amy happy about these rules? Does she like these rules? Well, not really. In The Paris Effect they pop up in her head in the morning, in the evening, and at suppertime. And all the times in between, too. In fact, now that I look at them, some of them sound a little, um, neurotic.

Anyway, here they are, all in one place, 33 rules in all.

Rule no. 1 of the perpetual diet

Fidget as much as possible. Fidgeting burns calories. Fidgeting gives your hands something to do other than to stuff fat piggy food into your fat piggy face. Fidgeters are slender.


Rule no. 9 of the perpetual diet

At times during your diet your body will decide there’s a famine, and in a bid for self preservation it will start to hoard calories. You still police every morsel of food you put in your mouth but you stop losing pounds. You may even gain a few back. It’s only the plateau. You must not freak out.


Rule no. 13 of the perpetual diet

Never eat processed food.

Processed food, oozing with salt and transfats and fructose and unpronounceable chemicals, is diabolically engineered to stimulate your appetite while never satiating it. Processed food, brought to you by faceless, heartless corporations who care only about the bottom line (theirs, not yours), is the very last thing you should put in your poor defenseless pathetic little body.


Rule no. 16 of the perpetual diet

Boldly colored dishes make food taste better, and when food tastes better, you eat less of it.

At least that’s the theory. Amy’s plates are tangerine orange, her bowls are cherry red, and the handles of her flatware are lime green.


Rule no. 20 of the perpetual diet

When you sit, check to see if you can feel the flesh of your waist on the insides of your elbows. If you can, you weigh too much.

It’s how Amy knows she’s put on pounds before anyone else does. The elbow test. Never fails.


Rule no. 21 of the perpetual diet

If you do let yourself get completely empty, which you should not (see rule number eighteen) don’t then turn around and gobble down something sweet.

Go for protein. It will steady you, strengthen you, settle you. Sugar is always a bad choice but it’s an even worse choice on an empty stomach. It turns you into a lunatic. More of a lunatic.


Rule no. 23 of the perpetual diet

When you are sick, eat what tastes good to you.

Dieting while ailing is a wicked effective way to drop pounds. But of all the weight-loss methods Amy knows, and she knows them all, it is the most stupid. You just get sicker.


Rule no. 24 of the perpetual diet

It’s okay to eat protein and vegetables together, or starch and vegetables together, but never protein and starch together. Protein and starch together are harder to digest, meaning they stay in your body longer, meaning they have more time to turn to fat.


Rule no. 25 of the perpetual diet

Feast your eyes first. Seriously, really look at your food. It’s hard to believe, but if you concentrate, looking at food can be as satisfying as actually eating food.

Sometimes when Amy’s hungry and she doesn’t want to eat she sits and looks at the pictures in her cookbooks. It fills her up.

Kind of.

For a while.


Rule no. 26 of the perpetual diet

In addition to going to bed a little hungry (rule number seven), you should be a little bit hungry all throughout the day, too. If not, you are eating too much.

People who claim you can diet without hunger are wrong. It’s simple—losing weight involves eating less food than your body needs to go on living.

So you are going to be hungry. All the time. Deal with it.