Most reformed serial dieters can remember a defining moment that got them off the starvation treadmill. Mine came in 2008. I was meeting an old friend, the nutritionist Charlotte Watts, for brunch. She walked in and something – everything – had changed. Her skin was clear and glowing, her eyes were bright. Her body looked stronger and leaner.

“You look amazing,” I said.

“I’ve gone paleo,” she replied.

Over the three months since I’d last seen her Charlotte had been “eating the way our ancestors did”: she’d given up sugar, processed foods, grains and legumes, focusing instead on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. As a health writer, I pooh-poohed the idea (all that meat? There’s a global food crisis! And what healthy diet says give up lentils?) and continued to jump on and off whichever new vegan diet, alkaline plan or juice fast I happened to be writing about.

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