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The Promise

A diet that recommends wine, chocolate, and cheese – and no calorie counting? Oui, says Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure.

Her recipe for weight loss success:

  • Eat high-quality food in small portions.
  • Prize quality over quantity in the foods you choose.
  • Savor each bite you take.
  • Walk for exercise and do weight training.
  • Eat three meals a day at regular times.
  • Breathe properly.
  • Keep good posture.

You'll go through four phases on this diet:

  1. The wake-up call: Noting what you eat for 3 weeks to see which foods you should add or subtract.
  2. Getting started: You’ll spend 3 months learning about French food, appropriate portion sizes, and drinking lots of water.
  3. Stabilization: Using new tools to use to reach and maintain your weight goal.
  4. The rest of your life: Your lifestyle habits now are permanent.

What You Can Eat and What You Can’t

For the first 2 days of this diet, you’ll go on a semi-fast, eating only leek soup and drinking lots of water.

Afterward, you add vegetables, fish, fruit, and still more water.

Throughout the diet, Guiliano recommends eating a wide variety of fresh, seasonal ingredients with plenty of good seasonings and herbs.

Guiliano recommends eating two servings daily of yogurt, a French favorite.

You can have wine or champagne, but not liquor. Sweets are OK in small amounts.

Here is a sample of a spring menu du jour:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt, cereal with strawberries, bread, and coffee or tea
  • Lunch: Asparagus flan, green salad, cherry clafoutis without dough, noncaloric beverage
  • Dinner: Pea soup, grilled lamb chops, cauliflower gratin, rhubarb compote, glass of red wine

More daily samples are available online or in the book.

There are no forbidden foods in this diet. Once you’re used to your new way of eating, you will be able to have foods like chocolate, wine, and cheese with no guilt. In order to trim your waistline, you will need to slowly curb your food portions.

A reward to help get through the week? Guiliano suggests a weekly ‘‘day of rest’’ when you can enjoy a “civilized” portion of some of your favorite indulgences.

Guiliano says her leek soup -- a crucial part of this diet -- has “magical qualities” to promote weight loss. (There is no proof of that, though.) She also suggests having a little chocolate. But of course, you can't go overboard on that.

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