On a diet, yes, but with a smile

    On a diet, yes, but with a smileIs it possible to follow a weight loss program while maintaining a good mood? Yes. Indeed, it must. Word of Alain Mességué, one of the most famous phytotherapists, owner of a wellness center in Ticino, on the north shore of Lake Maggiore. In his latest book, he explains how a smile is the winning card for staying well and keeping fit (The smile diet, Cairo, 13 euros). The temptation to learn more is strong. This is why we interviewed him.

    Doctor Mességué, you have the reputation of being a somewhat strict professional. It is said that her guests once feared her… Now she invites us to smile. Should we take the diet less seriously?
    In my work I continue to be very rigorous. But with time one becomes wise. And in wisdom we discover the beauty of smiling. This does not mean that the diet should not be approached in a very serious way. But we just have to live it more lightly. Let's not expect immediate results, let's give our body time to react at its own pace, let's not pursue unreachable ideals, let's allow ourselves the luxury of losing weight without stress. Each of us has its weight. Each of us is unique. My menus haven't changed from the past, but the calories have increased. This makes them richer, more enjoyable and easier to follow. And, once you've lost the extra pounds, maintaining good habits is easier. 

    Thus, the success of a diet does not depend on calories.
    No. The classic steak and salad menu works for 7-8 days. Then enough, the metabolism is lowered and continuing to eat like this no longer has an effect. And then, how sad. The secret is to combine the right foods, otherwise you will only lose lean mass. In my centers we have gone from 1.000 daily calories to 1.800 (just think that the average is around 2.200-2.300, depending on the case). In short, if you eat without too many sacrifices, you can diet with a smile.

    It's okay not to count calories, but what should we bring to the table?
    I can tell you to avoid processed foods, bad fats. But most of all the combinations count. The main rule for weight loss is not to mix starches (found in cereals and their derivatives, therefore pasta, bread, flour, biscuits, polenta, potatoes and legumes) with animal proteins, i.e. meat, sausages, eggs, fish, milk and derivatives. So never meat and potatoes, never fish and rice. Let us regulate ourselves in this way in the three main meals. And then we choose simple and whole foods, we abound with fruits and vegetables and we use olive oil.

    In the book he explains that the type of water to drink is also important ...
    Absolutely yes. To increase urine output, the ratio of sodium to potassium must be similar (approximately 1: 1). If the water is more loaded with sodium than potassium or vice versa, you will not urinate the same way. And, anyway, it also takes something else to reach your ideal weight ...

    In what sense?
    It is essential to supplement the diet with herbs. The secret of my treatment consists of 30 percent in the diet, 60 percent in the intake of herbs, in the form of infusions, decoctions, foot baths and hand baths (the latter two purify the body by osmosis, increasing the microcirculation and making the liver, stomach and kidneys work harder) and 10 per cent in rest.

    The rest? Everyone who hates sport will rejoice ...
    I am not against sport, but against physical activity during my stay in my center. Those who are overweight are usually not used to exercising and produce more free radicals. Resting 20-30 minutes after lunch, on the other hand, allows you to increase diuresis. Also, to digest, blood needs to go to the stomach. But if you do physical activity, it goes into the legs, into the muscles. Several companies abroad have equipped themselves to allow employees to take a break from lying down in the early afternoon. This is also a smile.

    Is it true that you always end meals with a dessert?
    Surely. Lunch and dinner must last about three quarters of an hour, because the sense of satiety comes after 45 minutes of eating. For this reason, in my center, the waiters have to serve the dishes calmly and the people eat in peace, chewing well. Each meal includes an appetizer, main course, side dish and dessert. 

    Don't tell me, though, that by dessert you mean fruit ...
    God forbid. They range from chocolate mousse to sorbets, ice cream, vanilla and mocha creams. Every so often, however, a fruit compote can happen.

    We close with his favorite recipe.
    I have so many. But I am fond of pasta and beans, which I prepared for Ugo Tognazzi when he came to my center. That's right, no one would say that such a recipe makes you lose weight! Soak 150 g of beans in cold water with 1 tablespoon of unrefined coarse sea salt for 24 hours. Rinse them carefully, and put them in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Once it reaches a boil, add 100 g of celery, 80 g of white onions, 50 g of carrots, washed, cleaned and cut into julienne strips. It is cooked over low heat, occasionally skimming the surface. When the beans are cooked, about 1/3 of them are taken and passed through a vegetable mill. Pour the purée into another saucepan and add some organic wholemeal ditalini (200 g for 4 people) boiled al dente. Continue cooking for a few minutes, remove from the heat and season with a drizzle of olive oil and ground pepper. It is a balanced dish, providing carbohydrates and 13,5 g of vegetable protein. And after eating it, the smile is guaranteed.

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