The Gillian McKeith diet

The press has given Gillian a touch time, but her work is hard to refute...

Gillian McKeith diet

Following her Channel Four hit series You Are What You Eat, Gillian McKeith has had a bit of a mixed reputation. Despite rumours that she bought her nutritional qualifications on the internet, and Charlie Brooker's description of her in the Guardian as a "charmless, judgmental, hand-wringing harridan", her books have become bestsellers for publishers Penguin. She might be obsessed with tongues and poo, and pepper her books with vague, pseudo-scientific statements, but there's no doubt Gillian's onto something.

The theory

McKeith refers to her plan as a "diet of abundance", in that there's a massive variety of food you are actually allowed to eat, and you don't need to worry too much about quantities. Processed, sugary and salt-heavy foods are rejected in favour of natural, unprocessed, organic ingredients and there is also an element of food combining. McKeith uses food as medicine and believes that healthy eating can cure everyday ailments from acne and eczema, to high blood pressure and colds.

The upside

McKeith's diet concentrates more on eating for good health and professes that any weight loss experienced is a pleasant side effect. The diet is full of healthy, nutritious fruit and vegetables and since you are encouraged to eat more rather than less, you won't be going hungry. It's also an excellent diet for vegetarians.

The downside

If you're a stranger to your cooker, you'll find this diet a total nightmare. Ditto if you're not really into trying the sort of exotic ingredients you have to hunt down in specialist health food stores (aduki beans anyone?). You'll also have to wave goodbye to that after-work tipple and have a handful of sunflower seeds instead.

Does it work?

Ex-junk food addicts sung McKeith's praises through her Channel 4 series, and declared that it does work. More pressing evidence though was McKeith's star celebrity pupil Michelle McManus a.k.a the Incredible Shrinking Woman. At one stage you couldn't get through a copy of Heat without seeing at least a couple of shots of her deflating like a big Scottish blimp. A walking advertisement...