Gillian first got into nutrition after a long bout of ill-health
I’m relieved to discover that Gillian isn't quite as fearsome as she comes across on TV. Her accent may be a rare mixture of effusive American and clipped Scots, but her sense of humour is definitely of the dry Scottish brand. "I would happily show my soft side - no-one wants to see it!” she chuckles. "There are several sides to me and what you see on TV, a lot of it is to do with the way the show is edited."
Of course, You Are What You Eat was made for TV, and it focused on the most drastic cases Gillian took on: the obese junk-food addicts whose idea of a balanced diet was a cookie in each hand. Without ceremony or discretion, Gillian ditched the junk, fed them fresh produce, mung and aduki beans, and made them undergo colonic irrigation (among other measures). This is one lady who, in her own words, doesn’t believe in beating about the bush - and while her boot camp approach isn’t for the faint-hearted, there’s no denying it works.
Gillian herself positively exudes energy and says she feels almost half her age (for the record, that’s 25 instead of forty-something). But she hasn't always been in the shape she's in today. Interestingly, Gillian's passion for nutrition was actually born out of frustration with what she describes as "a very long road of ill-health" in her early twenties.
"I really was at my wits’ end," she says. "I was on injectable painkillers for migraines that just never left. The turning point was when I got dropped off at a macrobiotic centre by my boyfriend....and listening to a woman talking about her recovery from cancer. I just thought 'This is the kick in the pants I need.'"
Brought up on a Scottish diet of meat and potatoes ("it was home-cooked food, we never ever had any takeaways or anything"), Gillian believes impaired digestion stemming from a lack of Vitamin D from the Scottish sun was at the root of her health problems. Aside from her diet, she also takes a lot of exercise, including an hour of Pilates every day to help ease her back condition. Gillian suffers from scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, and she's backing a campaign to introduce testing in schools so that the condition can be detected early enough for treatment. For more information and to sign the petition, see www.gillianmckeith.info/scoliosis.