Strictly judge Shirley Ballas turns to extreme 'plant paradox' diet

Strictly judge Shirley Ballas, 61, turns to extreme ‘plant paradox’ diet that champions nuts, cauliflower and sprouts to maintain her fitness

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  • After a handful of health scares, it’s no wonder Shirley Ballas is going to lengths to make sure she’s as fit as can be.

    And her latest effort is extreme indeed – trying out a controversial diet that limits the vegetables she can eat.

    The Strictly Come Dancing judge, 61, who says she has also taken up yoga, turned to the trendy ‘plant paradox’ plan after testing different diets.

    New direction: Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas, 61, who says she has taken up yoga, has also turned to the trendy ‘plant paradox’ plan after testing different diets

    New direction: Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas, 61, who says she has taken up yoga, has also turned to the trendy ‘plant paradox’ plan after testing different diets 

    The plant paradox diet claims that, while eating some types of fruit and vegetable should be encouraged, other plant foods are not as healthy as they seem.

    Followers of the diet try to avoid lectins – carbohydrate-binding proteins found in legumes like beans, lentils or chickpeas, grains and ‘nightshade’ vegetables – some of which like to grow in shady areas – such as tomatoes and bell peppers.

    The theory, first promoted by the US doctor Steven Gundry, is that these lectins can lead to weight gain and chronic disease – but there is little evidence to support this philosophy.

    Do's and donts: The plant paradox diet claims that, while eating some types of fruit and vegetable should be encouraged, other plant foods are not as healthy as they seem

    Do’s and donts: The plant paradox diet claims that, while eating some types of fruit and vegetable should be encouraged, other plant foods are not as healthy as they seem








    ‘I struggled during the pandemic, that’s for sure, but I’m doing yoga again now and I’m on my 33rd class in a row without stopping,’ Shirley revealed to Closer magazine.

    ‘I’m also doing a plant paradox diet. It consists mostly of plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. It’s all about healthy eating and not dieting. Diets don’t work. I’ve yo-yoed all my life.’

    Dr Gundry’s book, The Plant Paradox, offers ‘a step-by-step detox and eating plan, and delicious lectin-free recipes’ to reveal the ‘hidden dangers lurking in your salad bowl’. 

    Concern: Shirley has had a series of health scares, including last year when Strictly viewers noticed a lump in her armpit, which turned out to be harmless

    Concern: Shirley has had a series of health scares, including last year when Strictly viewers noticed a lump in her armpit, which turned out to be harmless

    Shirley has had a series of health scares, including last year when Strictly viewers noticed a lump in her armpit, which turned out to be harmless. 

    Medical tests also revealed a shadow on her kidney, but the doctor gave her the all clear.

    Helen Bond, a spokesman for the British Dietetic Association, said: ‘As a dietitian, it worries me that this type of in-vogue diet is doing more harm than good – fear mongering people that eating legumes, whole grains and even fruits and vegetables is bad for their health.

    ‘We know that there is a wealth of evidence that shows eating more plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes is good – thanks to the vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidant plant compounds they contain.

    ‘Far from causing weight gain, if cooked well, plant foods that are rich in lectin like pulses are a powerful ally in our fight to maintain a healthy waistline and health.’

    Health conscious: Her latest effort to stay in shape is extreme indeed – trying out a controversial diet that limits the vegetables she can eat

    Health conscious: Her latest effort to stay in shape is extreme indeed – trying out a controversial diet that limits the vegetables she can eat