INTERVIEW: “Eat, Drink, and be Merry! That’s the Simplest Way to Put it”

Eat, drink, and be merry! That’s the simplest way to put it. But, of course, “balance, variety, and moderation are absolutely essential”

French dietician Jean Philippe Ricau, who has settled permanently in Cyprus, has helped more than 25,000 clients from different nationalities and cultures improve their lives and health.

We asked him to share his magic formula with us. Here’s what he said:

Eat Five Times a Day

If you’re looking to boost your metabolism and burn calories, Jean-Phillipe insists that it’s essential to eat five times a day.

“A lot of people tell me that they don’t understand why they can’t lose weight, even though they don’t eat much. My answer is always the same: ‘it’s because you’re stopping your metabolism. To get your metabolism going, you need to eat!’ he says during an interview in his office.

When you eat, your body has to work to digest and absorb the food, which requires energy. This energy requirement increases your metabolism, meaning your body is burning more calories. “It’s not just about the quantity, but meals frequency that will help your metabolism stay efficient.”

Start with breakfast

There is no single best breakfast; everyone has different dietary needs and preferences, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While cornflakes are made from corn and lack fibre, some nutritious and delicious breakfast options include oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, smoothies, and whole-grain toast. When planning your breakfast, make sure to include a variety of healthy foods that will provide essential nutrients and keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day.

According to this health guru who speaks fluent Greek, variety is key. Eating the same thing every day can make it hard to get the right balance, so it’s best to switch up your breakfast over the course of a week.

Jean-Philippe strictly prohibits the usage of the word ‘fattening’. “I’ll ask 5 euros to whoever uses that word. I always remind people that food can be rich or heavy, but not fattening. Let’s say you’re craving tiropitta (cheese pie). Sure, it’s a bit heavy, but you can balance it out by having a starch-free meal for your next meal. If your next meal includes rice or potatoes, then it’s not the best choice. So, if I’m eating something rich, my next meal should be without starch.”

Should We Eat Pizza?

“Who doesn’t love pizza? it’s not the healthiest food choice, but it’s a beloved part of our culture.

” If you decide to indulge in some pizza for lunch today, your next meal should be on the lighter side. “Try something lean like chicken without rice, and maybe a side of salad.” And if you have a doughnut in the morning, it’s best to avoid pizza for lunch.

Drink plenty of water

Jean-Phillipe, with his 20+ years of experience, knows that people, in general, don’t take in enough fluid. As highlighted in his book “How to Lose Weight Without Dieting” he advises that one must drink at least 1.5 litre of water daily to ensure that the body is hydrated and healthy. If one doesn’t like the taste of plain water, they can add some lemon to the mix. To check that one is drinking enough, Jean-Phillipe suggests looking out for their urine – if it’s not clear, it means they are not drinking enough.

Additionally, he recommends watermelon to anyone living in Cyprus, as it is a great way to stay hydrated without putting on weight.

Pace Your Meals

If you want to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, it is important to structure your meals to ensure you are eating a balanced diet.

Depending on your daily schedule, a typical day of meals could be as follows:

  • Breakfast at 9 am
  • Mid-morning snack at 11.30 am
  • Lunch at 1.30 pm
  • Afternoon snack at 5 pm
  • Dinner at 7.30/8.30 pm

If you’re looking to shed those extra pounds, reducing the frequency of starchy foods is key, rather than the quantity. It’s usually best to avoid starches with your dinnertime meal.

If you have starch at lunchtime, it is best to follow it with some form of exercise such as going to the gym.

If you don’t have any weight issues, continue to eat a variety of foods and maintain a balanced diet on a weekly basis.

If you go to bed late, it’s ok to have a light, easy-to-digest snack later in the evening, but avoid high-fat*, high-protein snacks like peanuts and other nuts if your goal is to lose weight. “*Did I say ‘fat’? Oops, I owe you 5 euros!”

Wine during dinner?

When it comes to dinner time, an occasional glass of wine is not incompatible with a weight-loss programme, according to the Frenchman. However, some people tend to drink a bottle a night, which can be detrimental to health.

For a balanced diet, it is important to eat smaller portions, and not too late in the evening. Your metabolism slows down at night, meaning that your liver will process proteins and fats after two hours. Eating too late can lead to digestion while in bed, resulting in the fats becoming stored as fat in your body. To reduce this risk, you should aim to eat lightly at night, which is only achievable if you have eaten regularly and enough during the day.

How to snack

If you want to snack healthily, it’s important to do so before you become overly hungry. When you’re not ravenous, a piece of fresh fruit is a great option; however, if you’re really famished, reach for a healthier option like a wholegrain biscuit or some dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa).

Following the French Example

When asked what he would recommend people change in their diets, Jean-Phillipe was quick to answer: quantity.

“I know when you’re invited to a meal, there’s often a lot of food, and the host is happy to offer it, but you don’t have to take it all. In Cyprus, when there’s a buffet, people will often put 10 different things on their plate. In France, we don’t do that – we take only a little. In Cyprus, people are proud to have eaten a lot, while in France, it would be considered impolite.” The French also see meals as a time for social interaction, rather than simply eating. “Talk a lot when dining – put your fork down so you’re not only eating. You should also eat slower so your body have time to process and tell you when it’s enough.”

Along with cutting down on quantities, Jean-Phillipe summarizes his advice for a healthy lifestyle as follows:

  • Eat more frequently, at regular times throughout the day, and opt for lighter meals at night.
  • Have a variety of foods, and eat what’s in season.
  • Drink enough water.
  • Walk more often, about 7000 steps and more per day, average during the week.
  • Enjoy your food – feed your body and your mind.
  • Women tend to gain weight when they’re stressed, so try to stay happy and resolve problems.

The Rewards of Being a Dietitian

Jean-Phillipe believes that becoming a registered dietician was one of the two best decisions he ever made. The other, of course, being to move to Cyprus. “I’m passionate about my work because it’s rewarding to see the positive changes that can come from simple advice,” he explains. “Seeing people become healthier and happier is so gratifying, and it’s never boring either. Knowing you’re helping people is an incredible feeling! »

His main message? “If there’s something you really enjoy, don’t deny yourself the pleasure. Just make sure to balance it out with lighter meals the next day. Enjoy your food, and don’t be afraid to indulge! »

Discover Jean-Philippe’s Books!

You can purchase Jean-Philippe’s inspiring books “Lose Weight Without Dieting” and “Healthy Recipes for Women in Heels and Men in Ties” on Amazon RIGHT NOW.

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