Last week I was kindly given a hand-me-down hoover. It's one of those super-dooper special Dysons which picks up pet hair. I don't know about pet hair, but this damn thing is so powerful I actually got worried I might hoover up my pet.

Which got me thinking. Sometimes things can be too good to be true. Sure, my old hoover (which I'd had for 12 years, made a funny noise and probably kicked more dust out than it sucked in) was a bit rubbish. But it kept the place pretty clean and never put my pet in danger. It took a bit longer to hoover because I'd have to go over some bits more than once, and it wasn't a very fancy piece of kit, but it did it's job.

How quickly I chucked it out, though, when the super-dooper Dyson was flashed before my eyes. It may not be new, but it still looks shiny and slightly like a transformer. It also sounds like it's about to take off when you switch it on. My puppy, Chester, was terrified.

After one use, I kind of wished I had my old hoover back. I think in the long run, it was probably more effective. I spent at least twenty minutes extracting various items of soft furnishing from the ruthless jaws of the Dyson, and the strength it took to push that powerful little sucker around the house meant I didn't need to train that day.

It's a bit the same with diets. It doesn't take much for us to get drawn away from a healthy, balanced diet. One promise of a stone off in 2 weeks and we're off! Trouble is, a bit like the Dyson, they're usually not as good as they seem. Some things can be too powerful, and drastic weight loss diets are definitely one of them. They almost always result in feelings of failure, because no one can ever keep them up. And in the process, they suck up your self esteem, your hormonal balance and your metabolism, a bit like the Dyson sucked up my rug, the bath mat, the cushion, and nearly my pet along with my pet's hair. They also have a real tendency to mess up your relationship with food.

Eating a clean, natural diet with regular meals and the odd treat may not be very fashionable, it may not promise to transform you into Elle McPherson, and it may take a bit of boring time and patience to see significant results, but in the long run, it won't leave you disappointed.

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