Diets used to be something that started on a Monday morning - and would usually be ditched that evening. But since I moved to France, my attitude has changed.

I am married to a Frenchman, who watches my weight as closely as I do. We are perfectly aware to the nearest pound what we each weigh - and how much weight we need to lose.

In France, diets aren’t just for fat or obese people; they are followed meticulously by everyone who wants to stay slim. Make no mistake: Vanessa Paradis, Marion Cotillard and Carla Bruni were not born with a magical skinny gene.

The French don’t just obsess over every exquisite morsel that passes their lips, they drastically restrict their calorie intake by following a strict diet at least once each season. At least one person in my husband’s extended family is usually trying to lose weight.

At a lunch for my father-in-law’s 72nd birthday (number of diets he’s been on so far this year: two), my sister-in-law Veronique announced she’d just lost a stone.

‘But you didn’t need to!’ I cried (and she really didn’t). ‘It’s not about whether I needed to, Sam,’ she sniffed. ‘I look better and feel happier.’ She then pushed away half of her chocolate mousse.