Wonder Diets

Want to eat what you want while keeping the pounds at bay? It’s not as difficult as your always-grumbling belly and expanding waistline might lead you to believe.
Text by Francesca Cruz | June 6, 2018 | Lifestyle

Open your appetite, and get ready for your mouth to water: a large chocolate chip cookie, the kind with the thick chunks of chocolate that melt on your fingertips; a Venezuelan cheese tequeño; crème brulée…right out of the Amélie movie, with the extra-thick flambéed sugar coating; a cheese & guava pastelito, yes of course, with sprinkled sugar on top; a Colombian arepa de choclo; the heavenly Brazilian mouse de Maracuña; nachos overflowing with cheese; dulce de leche crepes; Vosges chocolate caramels [and I’m not pushing any brand, but those suckers are delish]; French macaroons; thin-crust pizza with globs of mozzarella; Southern-style bread pudding — I don’t discriminate when it comes to indulging in comfort food, I’m an equal opportunist in the caloric connoisseur department.
But here’s the dilemma (and take a seat, this is breaking news!)…I can do without the weight gain. Ah, why? Why, why, why [insert Nancy Kerrigan’s whining at leisure] do the foods that taste the best, those we desire the most, have to be so darn fattening? As Kate Moss openly declares, for her, with the ectomorph body type and the metabolism of quicksilver, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. It does feel good. It feels fantastic to fit into your favorite look-at-me-now outfit. So which would you rather: The Azzedine Alaïa Bandage Dress or that mouthwatering Fettuccini Alfredo? You see — this is the kind of first-world quandary that could stall our personal growth [place tongue firmly on cheek.]You see, the way you carry yourself when your body is fit, taut and strong says everything about how you feel about yourself, and those around you pick up on the nonverbal cues. This begins the positive cycle. The high. BUT, what also feels pretty good, and gives you instant gratification, is indulging. A slice of decadent chocolate cake, or a serving of moist cheesecake, at, let’s say, dusk — that hour of the day when you most need a reward to unwind — along with a tall glass of whatever spirits suit your fancy. It feels pretty good in the moment because the sugar spikes insulin levels, causing a burst of happiness later followed by a slow crash. In the moment, you’re not thinking about the thunderclap your system will be taking on — your mind is set on the ambrosial treat you so covet.
But how can I possibly maintain my figure and happily chew and swallow my way to a fulfilling life of culinary delights? How do you suppose I survive in a world that now includes social media sites for food porn? It’s blasphemy of the gastronomical kind. As if dieting wasn’t hard enough. Yes, I do like spinach, but I wouldn’t say it’s as exciting as a cheese plate, or a chocolate mousse. This is the perplexity at hand. Is there a diet out there where you don’t have to count calories and you are allowed to indulge in soul-soothing foods? Enter Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret Of Eating For Pleasure.
Getting ready for this article, I tried out Guiliano’s plan for 2 weeks. The approach being: Opt for quality over quantity in food choices, eat high-quality food in small portions and eat 3 meals a day at regular times. I was to savor the food by eating it slowly, which in turn assists in better digestion. Cardio and weight training are to be done on a regular basis, and the first couple of days involved a semi-fast: eating only leek soup and drinking lots of water.
The first couple of days of leek soup and water left me fatigued, moody and with a newfound discrimination toward leeks. I did, on the 3rd day, eat rich foods that I don’t usually allow myself to eat for fear of weight gain if I incorporate them in my regular diet. The plan did say that cheese, chocolate and meats were allowed in very small portions. What I noticed was that if I allowed myself to have just a smidge of sweets, it opened up my appetite and made it harder to control the cravings. I didn’t gain weight on this plan, but I didn’t lose it, either. I found myself working harder to contain cravings once my interest was peaked by trying just a bite of something.
I kept searching for the optimal diet plan, one that included actually enjoying food — not living off of water, crackers and one vegetable; or worse yet, teasing myself senseless with a portion option meant for Barbie. That’s when I stumbled upon a diet inspired by the work of Dr. A.T.W Simeons, who in 1969 discovered that HCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, is a naturally occurring hormone found in both men and women, but produced in larger amounts in pregnant females. Simeons observed that if used in small amounts, HCG increased an individual’s metabolism causing abnormal fat to be used and expelled. I wanted in.
During the first 3 days, this diet allows you to gorge on your favorite foods and then for the next 27 days, you’re to stay on a strict 500-700 calorie a day diet. Then once a month has passed, you’ve learned how to properly combine foods and permanently implement your new eating habits, and calories are gradually increased.
I was sold, particular on the 3 days of eating to my heart’s content. The first day was heaven, but by the second day, I couldn’t stand the smell of food. Given the opportunity to eat whatever I wanted; once I had satiated my cravings the first day, by the second, I wanted nothing, and by the time the plan had actually started on the fourth day, I was so grossed out with my overeating, my body pleaded for discipline and healthy food. And that did the trick, the human psyche is a peculiar thing. I’ve lost 15 pounds and I’m loving every bite since.