After moving to France, Karen Wheeler, a fashion and beauty journalist, immediately lost weight due to the stress of moving. Unfortunately, she gained back the lost weight along with additional pounds. Wondering how to lose the bonus bulk, she came upon her answer while reading a biography of Marie Antoinette, the famously beheaded French queen. Her new diet, Wheeler decided, would be all about the cake.

On her blog, Wheeler explains how she “lost ten kilos in ten weeks, eating normally most of the time but following a few simple rules. And yes, I did eat (homemade) cake.” Conceding her lack of scientific expertise, she consulted with Dr. Mabel Blades, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, in order to produce her book, The Marie Antoinette Diet: Eat Cake and Still Lose Weight. Essentially, its pages contain one cup of memoir, one cup of history, a sprinkling of science, and two teaspoons of creative dieting. She details the benefits of a 12-hour night fast and reveals a super-food that will aid your weight loss. Finally, she provides recipes for cakes as well as soups, including “the 18th-century recipe for the broth that Marie Antoinette ate for dinner, which is believed in many cultures to have astonishing health benefits.”

Wheeler, who is the author of three French travel memoirs, shares the “dieting secrets of French women through the ages.” The underlying concept is that those who eat what they crave while exercising restraint will be more likely to succeed in attaining their weight-loss goals. In short, Wheeler advocates the familiar French advice — un-American by definition and deed — of controlling your food portions instead of denying yourself something you really want.

Essentially, Wheeler believes Marie Antoinette instinctively understood the modern science of dieting and adopted habits that helped her maintain a healthy weight without counting calories or eliminating food groups. The Marie Antoinette Diet, dubbed MAD for short, does not promote a series of rules for losing weight so much as advocates a series of lifestyle changes intended to improve your health. The diet has the backing of a certified nutritionist so in the event you try it and it doesn't work, it probably wouldn’t hurt you. Worst case scenario is you will probably spend an inordinate amount of time baking cakes and eating "wonder soup." But it did work for Wheeler, who says of herself in the “about me” section of her blog, “I never say no to a glass of pink champagne.” Gotta love a Francophile.