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At 74 years old, Dolly Parton's pneumatic figure could be mistaken for that of a woman a fraction of her age.

From her tiny 18-inch waist to her famously slender frame, the Jolene singer's body is the envy of most.

But in her new book, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics , Dolly reveals the grim and often debilitating lengths she's gone to to maintain it.

As a natural lover of food, the star admits she's resorted to drastic – and not recommended – measures to take the pounds off.

Even as far back at 1978, the Smoky Mountains-born singer was fretting about her size and once barricaded herself in her hotel room to stop herself eating the restaurant's fried clams.

Dolly Parton, pictured in 1980, has shared details of her grim diets with fans
(Image: Mirrorpix)

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Instead, she sat alone listening to a party her band was having and penned the track, Two Doors Down about being forced to miss out on the fun.

Dolly had decided to follow a strict diet that saw her consume only liquid protein – a move that left her wanting to be sick.

She writes: "I had gained a lot of weight. I have a tendency to do that. At the time, I had tried everything to get the weight off, and there was this new diet out.

"It was like a liquid protein, and it was just the awfulest tasting stuff. You had to drink it three times a day, and you just gag when you are doing it."

Dolly is famed for her 18-inch waist
(Image: Getty Images)

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In 1998, Dolly undertook yet another brutal regime, but this time it wasn't so much about weight loss as it was about her spiritual side.

She had been working too hard and not looking after her body, and so retreated to an old house in the mountains that she'd done up to pray and fast.

"Fasting is something that comes out of the church. If you fast, it cleanses your body as well as your mind," she explains.

But the process is not an easy one.

"Fasting is awful. You've got to pray hard and you've gotta have a lot of faith. It takes me about two or three days to get into it," she continues.

"You do a water fast for a day or so, and you get these god-awful headaches. Then you do a juice fast to get your mind open, and you get light-headed."

It's at that point Dolly says she reaches her 'God space' where she communicates on a 'spiritual level' and writes most of her best songs.

*Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is available in now bookshops and online.