The Dukan Diet is the French diet which is creating a storm in the dieting community. It has been around for over 10 years in France and has recently been “imported” to the UK and US, where many dieters, previously unsuccessful in their attempts to slim on conventional low fat diets, are taking to it like ducks to water.

The diet is made up of four sentences and rather than skim through all four of them here, I am dedicating this article to just the first phase – the. The amount of time you stay on it depends on how much weight you have to lose. Here's a rough guideline:

• less than 10lb – one day;

• less than 20lb – three days;

• 20-40lb – five days;

• more than 40lb – seven to ten days

You are of course advised to seek medical advice first.

There are 72 different foods to choose from in the first phase and you are given a full list of them in the Dukan diet book. It is stressed by Dr Dukan that you must stick to the diet completely; not one morsel of a forbidden food should pass your lips during this first phase, otherwise you may have to start all over again! Here's a list of the main foods you are allowed:

• Lean beef

• Veal

• Offal

• Chicken

• Turkey

• Lean ham

• All fish, including oily fish

• Seafood

• Up to two eggs per day

• Fat-free natural and flavored yogurt, but not yoghurt containing fruit

• Fat-free fromage frais

Quark

• Cottage cheese

• Skimmed milk

You also have to eat 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran every day. This serves two purposes; firstly, it fills you up, as it swells up to 25 times its original size in your stomach. Secondly, oat bran has unhealthy benefits in that it lowers cholesterol, is heart-healthy and leads to improved intestinal health.

Also allowed during the Attack phase are sweeteners, vinegar, spices, herbs, garlic, onion, gherkins, pickled onions, lemon juice on food, mustard and salt (in moderation), sugar-free natural ketchup in moderation, and sugar-free chewing gum. This should help jazz things up a bit if you find it difficult – but remember, it's only for a short period of time, and then you're on to the “Cruise” phase.

Exercise is “non-negotiable” and you are advised to walk briskly for 20 minutes every day, and you are also asked to drink 1.5 liters of water. You can include coffee, tea and diet drinks in this total.

My conclusion: hard, if you're not used to cutting down on your carbs, but worth it. It will kick-start your metabolism and you will feel great!