Aargh. My kitchen looks like the Valley of the Dolls. Okay, no uppers, no downers (unless you count my two emergency Valium which I've had since 1985), but I'm still popping pills like my middle name is Elvis.

 

Remember when we thought the future was little tin men laughing at the idea of not eating reconstituted mashed potato? Ha, ha, ha. Alas, no. The future is bullet shaped and comes in a bottle of thirty. Reader, I'm sorted.

 

I have Milk Thistle Complex to support the liver, Udo's oil to return my tired complexion to airbrushed dewiness, some vegetable enzymes for food digestion, Floradix to build the blood and more vitamins and minerals than I can rattle off. I also have a seven page detox diet sheet.

 

"So, how much do you drink in a week? asked the naturopath at the Grove Health Centre, a blonde, Antipodean Adonis called Max.

 

I crossed my fingers and did a quick calculation: "Em, probably about...."

 

And whatever you say, I'm going to double it," he added.

 

Thank goodness he didn't ask about my shoe or handbag intake.

 

He got out his little pad and started writing furiously. "You know that alcohol is basically sugar," he said, "and that as well as exhausting the liver - the most important organ in the body - if you don't go out and run a marathon after drinking, then all that sugar converts into..."

 

I looked at the pad expecting an elaborate biochemical equation and saw he'd written in large block capitals three letters: F A T.

 

I sucked in my stomachs.

 

"Marbled fat," he added, helpfully. "And alcohol is also very ageing. How old are you anyway?"

 

I sucked in my chins.

 

"So, I'm going to give you a MOT diet - no sugar, no wheat, no dairy, no animal fats at all, no red meat, no stimulants, no caffeine, no yeasted or fermented products like soya sauce, mushrooms, vinegars," he stared at me meaningfully, "and no alcohol."

 

I didn't like to ask about tobacco.

 

"Now do this between 75% and 80% of the time. When you're working you can eat normally, so don't panic. But if you are drinking wine then follow each glass with another of water which you should drink as slowly as you did the wine."

 

I left The Grove muttering "just seventy five percent of the time' between calming breaths and a quick puff on a Marlborough Lite. And this was before I even read the program.

 

On a second, nay third, fourth and fifth, glance - there doesn't appear to be much I can/italics/ actually eat, except rice, tofu, fruit and steamed vegetables. This is without the fruit-squeezing, skin brushing, ginger-grating parts that other diets don't reach.

 

Still, I began. I squeezed the lemon into hot water, added ginger and drank it down. Then, I spent two hours feeling as though my insides had been scoured with Ajax which surely isn't quite what he meant by 'cleansing the body'.

 

Next day I dutifully added 35 drops of Milk Thistle into a glass of water (you can't hurry these things - it's a bit like trying to express breast milk without being pregnant). Surprisingly, it tastes very pleasant, like a mild elderflower presse. Spurred on by this success, my liver rejuvenating by the minute, I poured myself a big tablespoon of Udo's oil.

 

"It's delicious," said Max. "Just sprinkle it on salads, or add it to fruit." Yummy, I thought, tossing it back like a vodka martini, and coughing it back up like a cabbage-based pond slime.

 

Essential oils they might be but this tastes like something you'd rub into your handbag to keep it soft and supple, though frankly, Bill Amberg's leather conditioner would probably be my tipple of choice if pushed. Now I know how it helps you to lose weight. You feel so nauseous that afterwards you can't face food.

 

Literally, I sat on the sofa for two hours with my eyes fixed on the wall, in a fatty-acid induced trance, afraid to move in case my stomach checked out.

 

Next day I tried mixing it with za'ater a pungent, thyme based mixture of herbs that we usually have for breakfast, and strong enough to kill all known germs, as well as your taste buds. However, one mouthful and I was back staring at the wall with worry lines that no amount of Udo's oil is ever going to erase from my face.

 

Thankfully, it also comes in capsules.

 

I just wish everything else did too, the way we used to think we would eat when we were all astronauts. This healthy, organic, wheat-free, dairyless stuff I'm eating looks so bloody unappetising that intoxication seems the only answer. I'm told it's only a matter of educating my palate but I'm afraid my palate is sitting at the back of the class doodling I (heart-symbol) butter) on its exercise book. All this and 2 litres of water a day?

 

Maybe I'll just try the good old sex diet - and have an affair with my ayurevedic masseur instead. That's sure to put a glow back into my cheeks.