With the turn of every year comes the inevitable rush to find the quickest way to ditch those festive kilos. Does the answer lie in the protein-rich Paleo Diet, the part-time fasting advocated by the 5:2, or a juice cleanse? Should we try the new regime everyone "swears by" come the first week of January, or is there a way to drop a dress size without having to give up the soothing comfort of winter carbs?
This year, it seems Emma Thompson has found the answer that we are all looking for. The 57-year-old Oscar-winning actress has reportedly lost more than a stone in six weeks, bidding adieu to what she once described as her "great big zonking bottom". Previously a UK size 14, she has gone down to a dress size 10.
Her secret involves no sign of kale, green smoothies or the gluten and dairy-free "clean eating" that has taken over the food world. Instead, she follows dietitian Louise Parker's "anti-diet diet", eating three full meals a day, plus two snacks and the occasional glass of Picpoul de Pinet.
It is not just about meal plans: Parker takes a holistic approach to weight loss that centres around managing stress, eating high-quality ingredients and doing a little exercise each day - even if it's just 15 minutes. Her method has been credited with helping the Duchess of Cambridge recover her figure after childbirth.
Her six-week training programme (naturally, she refuses to call it a diet) encourages balance and "lean eating" - opting for high-protein, low-GI foods such as nuts and sweet potato. However, "just because a food is whole, raw or organic doesn't mean it's a free-for-all," she warns. "I'd skip the gluten-free date bar and save calories for a sticky toffee pudding on Sunday."
At pounds 4,500, her programme is a pricey investment, but with most of her clients dropping at least one and a half dress sizes, it is no wonder she has a waiting list. She only takes three clients at a time personally, yet her global team of dietitians has more than 11,000 devotees in 48 countries, and high-profile figures such as Sandi Toksvig - and now Thompson - swear by her method.
"Louise is the only one out there that I trust - she's not holier than thou, yet somehow miraculously gets my reluctant a** into gear, and sometimes even keeps it there," Thompson wrote in the foreword to Parker's book, Lean for Life.
"I love that her method is NOT a diet - and is genuinely sustainable - so I can have my glass of wine and manage to avoid spending the rest of the week eating cheesy Wotsits... She just gets it."
Parker's best-selling tome is half cookbook, half self-help book. "My method is about more than just losing weight," she writes. "It's about living a lifestyle that sustains you in optimum health, peak performance and clarity of mind so you are absolutely brimming with vitality. The side-effect of this lifestyle is that your body will transform into one that is exceptionally lean, sculpted, strong and graceful."