It struck me as bizarre that Gillian McKeith, former T.V. weight loss guru, wanted to meet at McDonald's. Spotting her at the counter ordering a double cheeseburger with fries, however, everything became clear.
Dr McKeith had turned into a bit of a porker.
Realising I was about to get the celebrity interview of the year, I decided to pace myself. The woman was already disastrously close to total meltdown.
I ordered an Americano and a salad. I wasn't going to eat anything with a face.
You've been off our T.V screens for a while. Any new shows coming up?
Television was never my priority. I'm a very serious academic. Writing, researching, lecturing - these are my real interests. I would only want to do television if I could share my skills and educate vulnerable people.
In the past it was often reported that you don't actually have a Ph.D.
The idea that I printed out a Doctorate certificate from the internet is outrageous. I worked long and hard for my degree. At a university. In the States.
Where exactly did you study?
It was a very prestigious university….definitely somewhere in the Mid-West.
Yes. One of those.
Your T.V. programme 'You Are What You Eat' had very good ratings. How do you explain that?
There are too many what I call 'pop psychology' programmes about nutrition and exercise. My approach stood out because it was backed up with research.
You treated the participants quite harshly as I recall.
It's double bluff reverse bio-psychology. It's one of my areas of expertise. Ridiculing, taunting and bullying someone into facing problems is always the best way to make positive change. Getting them to stand in a vat of pig fat, for example, is shocking, but effective. I'd say: "This is what you're like. Deal with it."
On the other hand, it could be psychologically damaging.
I can't be doing with whining. If I saw even one tear or heard a word of whinging, I would crank up the pressure by making them eat the pig fat. I got results remember!
You were known particularly for your interest in stools. Looking back, was that really necessary?
Absolutely. Stools reveal everything about a person. Show me your stools and I'll tell you what you had for breakfast, how old you are and what schools you went to. I check my own at least three times a day. I use a spreadsheet so I can monitor stool consistency, colour and smell. I write up a monthly summary - it's a great help in weight control and personality stabilisation.
Yes. It's because of the stool monitoring that I'm such a well-rounded person.
Tell me about your 'Jungle' experience.
I'm not used to spending time with other people. They found me too complex. Too challenging. It was hard for me. They'd all sit round the camp fire and bellyache about not getting enough rice. I was thinking "You have no idea…..I live on six grains of brown rice a day for three months when I'm on a detox." They wouldn't have understood that.
The press gave you a hard time for fainting a lot.
They said I was faking it. Oh sure. The way I faked four bowel movements a day? The way I shared out most of my rice at each meal because I simply couldn't manage a whole portion? UIFS is a serious condition and not one of them recognised it.
Undiagnosed Imminent Fainting Syndrome. I'm self-diagnosed. The medical people haven't caught up with me yet - that's why 'undiagnosed' at this stage. It was a relief to leave and get away from the horrible people. I'd lost 25 pounds though, so 'Every cloud..' I suppose!
So what weight were you when you left the 'Jungle'?
Three stone five. It wasn't a good weight for me. With balanced nutrition and vigorous trampolining, I got back to a healthy weight of three stone ten within a few weeks.
I sensed it was time to talk about the elephant in the room, so to speak.
I couldn't help but notice that you have gained a considerable amount of weight…
I'm a bit heavier than I'd like just now. O.K., I'm 11 stone nine. So I like the occasional burger and fries. Frankly, that's none of your business.
Taunting fat people in a vat of pig fat - how does that fit with your own current food choices?
I don't have to sit here and justify myself to you. I never liked you anyway. Oh God I think I'm about to faint…I'll have to leave immediately.
And that's what Dr McKeith did. But not before she ordered a family bucket of chicken McNuggets and a double strawberry McFlurry.
I love this job.