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Gillian McKeith - BBC's You are What You Eat

Thinking about trying Gillian McKeith's diet. Lots of ppl. on the BBC show lose a lot of weight and seem really healthy at the same time. Thoughts - anyone does this? Anyone have the book?

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  1. I haven't seen the book, but based on what I've seen on the show, I'd imagine that her diet pretty much involves cutting out red meat, dairy, high fat foods, and processed foods in favor of fresh vegetables, fish, and legumes. And it seems like her diets are specific to the people she's working with in the episode--i.e., dependent on the client's specific individual nutritional needs are. So if you were going to try her diet, it would be wise to check out the book first and then discuss with your doctor to find out if her recommendations are right for you.

    Regardless, a diet that is based on fresh fruits and vegetables and low in fat can't be all bad! It amazes me how many people on the show seem so traumatized giving up the take-away/processed foods, and are actually repulsed by Gillian's fresher healthier offerings.

    4 Replies
    1. re: tachis

      I got the book from the library and really like it. Very green. Very very. But, there is information about supplements and what your body needs when it does x, y, or z.

      I even bought some adzuki beans and made her mash w/ it. Not too bad.

      1. re: stellamystar

        You've piqued my interest now! I'm gonna have to look into the book myself!

        The dishes she prepares (or has the clients prepare) are intreaguing. Most of it looks really delish--in fact, I think there was a stew with adzuki beans and squash that looked like it would be quite tasty. But I admit there's been a few dishes that do look a bit dubious. Especially some of those juices. Eww. I'd probably have just as difficult a time forcing those down the hatch as the clients!

        Anyway, good luck in trying the recipies! Keep us posted on how they turn out!

        1. re: tachis

          I didn't know there was a book as well... every time I watch the show I feel inspired to eat healthier - those fresh vegetables and fruits she piles up on the second table always look DELICIOUS! I find it hard to believe that anyone could possibly prefer a plate-o-grease.... but if you've never learned to cook anything, fast food is what you're going to live on!

          1. re: tachis

            The adzuki bean mash w/ squash was good. She seasons a lot of things w/ miso paste which was a bit salty for me, but probably better than adding salt. I bought some mung beans and will try them out.

            I am not into the juicing thing at all. Mostly because a juicer is very expensive.

            She also has a different book I think 12 Foods for Healthy Living.

      2. I just saw it and like the show we have here, "Honey We're Killing the Kids," it seems like they have to take a really extreme position to get their point across. I couldn't figure out why their food didn't have any spices in it at first, unless she was trying to shock their palates into tasting vegetables or something, and I don't understand why all those juices would be helpful. I think it would be much more useful for people who aren't familiar with more advanced cooking techniques to give them tasty, healthy recipes they could use every day instead of forcing them to choke down beet/celery juice. But I suppose that wouldn't be considered interesting television.

        1. Gillian McKeith's reputation is pretty much in tatters in the UK, she claims to be a 'doctor' but actually got her 'phd' from a non-accredited mail order university. Most of her nutritional advice has been debunked by scientists, doctors (real ones) and nutritionists as total claptrap (e.g. her claim that chlorophyl 'oxiginates' the blood).

          I am very interested in food and love to eat. To a lesser degree I am interested in nutrition and have generally tried to base my dietary philosophy on eating a similar diet to those who live in countries where people are generally healthy and have low rates of heart disease, cancer, etc. For this reason I love French, Japanese and for want of a better term - Meditteranean food. The reason I say this is you can tell from looking at people in France, Italy, Japan etc. that they eat healthy diets. They just look good. McKeith on the other hand, always looks tired, drawn and to me, vaguely undernourished in her tv shows, hardly a recommendation for her philosopy.

          Furthermore, someone who reccomends not drinking any alcohol whatsoever, even an occasional glass or red wine seems to be basing her career on being a killjoy. She also seems to be ignorant of current research regarding the beneficial effects of the limited intake of wine.

          My sister bought one of her cookbooks a few years ago. It was full of the most grotesque culinary reccomendations I have ever seen. Avoid.

          PS - Check out her entry on wikipedia If you'd like some more info about her fraudulent credentials and other controversies surrounding her - including the very unpleasant legal threats her lawyers regularly issue to those who dare to criticize her.

          5 Replies
          1. re: lankyFool

            I was not aware of all the hoopla around her in the UK. I have enjoyed a few of her recipes, but could never do the diet she has on the show. It is far too extreme for me.

            1. re: stellamystar

              Maybe some of her recipes are okay, though I remember most of the one's I saw in the book my sister bought looked pretty unpalatable with ingredients that would be very difficult to source. Personally I don't think eating well is very difficult or requires an exotic diet, plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables with regular intakes of oily fish (for omega 3s) plus the occasional portion of red meat, cream, cheese etc. for iron and some nutrients not found in non-animal products.

              What I find so galling about McKeith is the way she abjectly lies about her qualifications then uses her supposedly objective books to push her nutritional supplements. Her husband owned a chain of health food stores in the US before she met him and her only real educational credential is a Master's Degree in... marketing.
              She has made a fortune hawking books and 'nutrional supplements' to the unwary and has done much to confuse people about nutrition and make them feel that the only way to eat healthily is to seek out exotic foodstuffs and supplements that hold the key to getting their bodies back to health.

              Her claims really are total junk, for instances she states that the tongue is "a window to the organs - the right side shows what the gallbladder is up to, and the left side the liver." Raised capillaries on your face are a sign of "digestive enzyme insufficiency - your body is screaming for food enzymes." Thankfully, Gillian can sell you some food enzymes from her website. "Skid mark stools" (she is obsessed with faeces and colonic irrigation) are "a sign of dampness inside the body - a very common condition in Britain." If your stools are foul smelling you are "sorely in need of digestive enzymes". Again. Her treatment for pimples on the forehead - not pimples anywhere else, mind you, only on the forehead - is a regular enema. Cloudy urine is "a sign that your body is damp and acidic, due to eating the wrong foods." The spleen is "your energy battery".

              It's shocking that her show is shown on BBC American, that really is a bad mark against Britain's public broadcaster. Please don't further enrich this charlatan by buying her books or 'nutritional supplements'.

              1. re: lankyFool

                I haven't read her books (and don't intend to), but it she's telling people to eat a colorful diet full of fruits and vegetables - certainly not a new or unfathomable idea. As far as the whole tongue thing goes - that comes straight from Eastern medicine. If you ever go to a TCM practitioner or acupuncturist, they will look at your tongue and base treatments off of the color, patterns, texture, etc. And just as reflexology is based on the idea that various portions of your hands and feet correspond to various body parts, so do the areas of your face. None of these are new ideas - in fact, most have been around longer than Western medicine (which is totally bunk - pump your body full of drugs to make it better? Please.).

            2. re: lankyFool

              Or, even better, check out Ben Goldacre. He writes the Bad Science column for The Guardian, and his own site has loads on McKeith (see the link at left): http://www.badscience.net/

              It's worth reading for the entertainment value alone!

              1. One one hand, she's a bit of a quack... on the other hand, eating better is always a good aim, and anything that can induce people to eat more fruits and vegetables has got to be good! Amazon's clearing the 'You are what you eat' book atm so I just ordered it, alas the companion recipe book is very expensive so I'll go without.
                BTW, it's not surprising that everyone loses scads of weight on her show - I only just realised that besides no sugar and booze, her 'healthy diet' demands NO wheat/bread, no dairy products, and no meat (just fish and the occasional piece of organic chicken)... it must be an absolutely huge cut in calories for her ideal candidates! She's also into wierd and wonderful 'nutritional supplements' that I think I'll skip...

                4 Replies
                1. re: Kajikit

                  Okay, but why would you buy McKeith's book when she has no background in nutrition (or cookery) and has been been shown to have made ridiculous claims and to have lied about her credentials. Wouldn't it be better to purchase the works of someone with more credibility - which would be just about anybody. I mean, did you really need 'Doctor' Gillian McKeith to tell you that eating more fruit and vegetables is good? That's been mainstream nutrition for decades. Her ridiculous claims such as the idea that ingesting chlorophyl "oxygenates" the blood on the other hand are verifiable nonsense and do nothing but help confuse people regarding nutrition.

                  1. re: lankyFool

                    McKeith is a joke in the UK.

                    Patronising health fascists we can well do without. You want her your side of the pond? Feel free to keep her.


                    1. re: lankyFool

                      Probably for the same reason people follow this charlatan:


                      Some are so desperate to lose weight that they will try anything. Gwen Shamblin (funny that her name has the word "sham" in it) probably has even fewer credentials than McKeith but will continue to prosper because of her brainwashing tactics. I've even heard of people who uproot their entire families just so they can be closer to her.

                      While McKeith may not have the credentials to make the claims she does, it doesn't seem as demented as Shamblin. However, I could be dead wrong - all I know of McKeith is from the BBCA show.

                      1. re: punkin712

                        Shamblin's diet advice is pretty simple: eat only when you are truly hungry and stop when you are comfortably full. Repeat. Lots of other diet books promote the same principles and give suggestions like putting your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 and only eating when you're at a 8, or stop eating when you are 80% full .

                        You can ignore all the religious promotion contained in the first book ( I haven't read any others) and still lose some weight following that advice!

                  2. I've become completely obsessed with Gillian, even though I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her. It's just too fascinating seeing all the food an obese British person consumes in one week laid out on one long table -- six bacon butties! 12 pints of lager! Eight packets of crisps! Eighteen buttered crumpets! Six liters of orange squash! Three curry takeaways!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Chowpatty

                      And sometimes doesn't the spread remind you of a typical "all you can eat" buffet? It kind of looks good all spread out there - especially the ones that are heavy on the sweets. And anytime she wants to do a "death by chocolate" grave for me, I'm ready!

                      1. re: Chowpatty

                        One time she made a wedding cake from all cheese. It looked pretty tasty.
                        Since I am not a Brit, those curry takeaways look good. I also like when they say '30 Mugs of Tea!!!!' Or 14 Fizzy Drinks!
                        And that announcer/narrator is FABULOUS. Very punny. He is the same as the cleaning show before the you are what you eat show.

                        1. re: Chowpatty

                          I've never heard of her until reading this thread today. Don't know too much about her and her credentials (and for that matter, don't really care). However, her claims that she makes seem to not be unreasonable. I think there's a lot of merit to what she has to say. It may be too extreme and too foreign for most people to follow. However, there are people who live that lifestyle. A lot of the people who do follow that lifestyle do so because they have certain health conditions and they find a great deal of improvement leading a life without dairy, meats, yeast, sugars, etc. I give her props.

                        2. Ms. McKeith can be seen daily on BBC America in her full sadistic glory in YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.

                          She spews much misinformation to her shamed and demeaned 'patients.' I am particularly appalled by her demand for a "Poo sample" which is paraded and disparaged (on camera) in the presence of her humiliated subject. Telling people their feces smells bad isn't exactly therapeutic.

                          McKeith doesn't look physically healthy or even well nourished. She reminds me of a dried-out brittle corn husk.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: NickyPicky


                            She does have a background in nutrition and other related studies.
                            She does have a PhD in Holistic Nutrition.
                            She betters herself and her knowledge of nutrition as well as acupuncture, health studies and oriental studies through continuing her education, some in America, some in England, some in Australia.
                            She has a debilitating spinal disease called scoliosis, which causes a great deal of pain to it's sufferers and is responsible for her appearance.
                            Her scoliosis progressed to that stage thanks to the lack of attention from her doctors to catch it in her teen years, she was diagnosed in her 30s.
                            Everything she does is not to "misinform" anyone, she wants to help them lead stronger, happier, healthier lives.
                            Not everyone is aware of exactly how much their lives will benefit by adding more fruit and vegetables into their diets and less junk.
                            I myself, have learned more from her show in 2 months than in years of having this common knowledge.
                            Every person she has helped on the show has only benefited from her help and diet plans.
                            Goldacre's article from a year ago was poorly researched and presented as fact with gross exaggerations and incorrect information.
                            It is my opinion that she is a stand-up woman whom I would love to meet personally.
                            Just in 1 week of following some (not all) of her advice and adding more fruits and veg into my diet, I lost 5 pounds and have become regular. I feel better too.

                            1. re: rahrah78

                              I wouldn't get sucked in by anyone with a "degree" in "holistic nutrition" whether it's Gillian McKeith or the "Skinny Bitch" ladies. What is holistic nutrition? What does it mean? What is the science behind it?

                              A quote from Quackwatch.com.

                              One of McKeith's Web site states that she “spent several years re-training for a masters and a Doctorate (PhD) in Holistic Nutrition from the American Holistic College of Nutrition (USA).” This entity was founded in 1981 by an unlicensed naturopath named Clayton and operated under various names until it was renamed Clayton College of Natural Health (CCNH) in 1997. CCNH and its predecessors have never been accredited by any agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education [1]. This means that the credentials they have issued have no legitimate academic standing. It also means that their graduates would be ineligible for licensure in the states that require accredited credentials (which most do). CCNH claims to be accredited by two accrediting agencies, but this claim is dishonest because neither is a recognized agency. Correspondence schools do not provide students with the supervised experience with patients/clients needed to achieve professional competence. Thus, even if CCNH's teaching were reliable—which they are not—it could not provide an adequate basis for entry into clinical practice.

                              Full article here. http://www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/mckei...

                              1. re: Avalondaughter

                                Indeed. And in the UK, McKeith may not commercially advertise herself as "Doctor" as the PhD is not accredited by any recognised educational authority either here or in the US.

                                Source; Wikipedia

                              2. re: rahrah78

                                I agree with you completely. She is reputable, and her advice and lifestyle are worth being influenced by. I have enormous respect for Ms. McKeith. :)

                              3. re: NickyPicky

                                It is highly entertaining though. I really can't see daily juicing as a reasonable option- it just seems like it ends up being expensive and unrealistic, as does starting up a massive cooking operation with people who haven't the slightest on how to cook and prepare meals. What about easy meals that are still nutritional but don't require as much cooking skills?

                                1. re: queencru

                                  What is so challenging about boiling vegetables or putting them into a food processor? I guess to anyone who's lived on microwave or take out that it would be daunting. I grew up in a household that cooked, learned how to cook at 11 and have been cooking ever since. It's much better than eating junk at any rate. I'd much rather cook a healthy meal than eat microwave meals.

                                  1. re: rahrah78

                                    If you consider yourself a chowhound or are someone that regularly cooks using actual fresh/raw ingredients it would be hard to understand that eating healthy can be challenging for some people. I know so many people eating "fresh" canned veggies, canned chicken, frozen diet meals, etc. that I now understand how the the fresh foods concept can be difficult to grasp. If you've ever done weight watchers and looked up the points value of a fast food salad it is eye opening. Imagine how people that don't know how to eat well can be fooled into thinking that these foods are healthy.

                                    In the US, obesity is a growing problem. If this show, probably seen only by people that have "good" cable, creates an awareness about healthier diets then I'll be more than happy to give Gillian McKeith credit. Shows like You Are What You Eat, The Biggest Loser and Intervention focus on ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

                                    1. re: lhb78

                                      The one I watched yesterday said that wonderbread gives you yeast infections. Seriously? Screams alarmist quack to me! The Biggest Loser is a much more realistic approach to poor lifestyle choices.

                                      1. re: queencru

                                        It isn't as far-fetched as you think.
                                        If the person she was saying it to has diabetes or hypoglaecemia, it is a real threat to them to eat breads such as wonderbread (white bread). And yes, for them, can cause yeast infections.

                                        1. re: rahrah78

                                          So far as I could tell, this woman did not have those problems and Gillian was simply using it as an alarmist scare tactic to get her off eating white bread. At any rate, that's a problem that needs to be diagnosed by a real medical professional, since there are far more likely possibilities out there.

                                          1. re: queencru

                                            I don't know about the yeast infection but I was told at my very first nutritionist appointment after being diagnosed with Type II diabetes to stay away from crap like Wonder Bread.

                                        2. re: queencru

                                          Sugars, starches, and yeasts, when consumed, create a favorable environment for an overgrowth of candida organisms in the body; they are the food source for candida. those who are prone to yeast and skin infections often find those conditions disappear once sugars, starches and yeasts are eliminated from the diet. It's not quack medicine, it's not hoo-haw, it's a fact.

                                        3. re: lhb78

                                          FYI, I have lived on both sides of the fence. For 3 years after I got married I lived off of take-out and junk food, rarely cooking because my husband liked to pamper me and I liked to be lazy. I quickly gained 10lbs. and then got pregnant. After having the baby and when I finished breast-feeding, I was still 20 lbs. heavier than when I got married and still eating junk. I finally got off my big tookus to start cooking home-cooked meals for my family when I saw the effect it was having on my son who was obviously following our poor example. Even making home-cooked meals, I wasn't losing the weight as I was still eating junk too. Only after watching Gillian's show did I finally start using more fresh fruits and vegetables and eating less (if any) junk. I thought that canned fruits and veg was good enough for a long time, I was one of those people. Despite that, I never thought of cooking as daunting or overly difficult, even when using fresh produce. So, it's not just that I've always cooked. It's that I've always cooked and still been wrong, and now I'm fixing that and learning, and it is no more difficult. I just don't see that it can be so hard on these ones to learn to cook following such simple recipes, they're fool-proof.

                                          1. re: rahrah78

                                            Whether you agree or disagree - I really like how she's introduced "new and different" foods to most Americans/Brits - mung beans, quinoa, adzuki beans, etc. It's been fun to cook some of her recipes.

                                            I got her book - and she really is into what your "poo" is like ...as a gauge for what your body is telling you. I think Oprah's Dr Oz also does this.....

                                            1. re: stellamystar

                                              exactly! Whether you think she's full of poo herself or not, you can't deny that she's brought usefull information to a LOT of people on how to better their lives through healthy eating/nutrition, and you don't even have to go to a doctor/specialist!!!! It's fantastic!

                                  2. Wow. Didn't realize how controversial she is. In one of her books, she claims particular healthful benefits to specific herbs. For example, she claims that parsley is very nutrient dense. Any thoughts on her claims about the value of herbs? Is anyone aware of a more credible source for evaluating the nutritional value of herbs?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: MCFAC

                                      With quacks, there's always some truth.

                                      A quick Google reveals parsley is indeed rich in vitamins. Like most leafy foodstuffs. Simples.