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Kate’s hidden French connection

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Almost two two decades after Princess Diana’s struggle with bulimia made headlines in Britain and beyond, new-princess-on-the-block Kate Middleton’s rapidly shrinking size has led to a global debate on her newfound contours.

health and fitness Updated: May 04, 2011 11:30 IST
Sanchita Sharma

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Almost two two decades after Princess Diana’s struggle with bulimia made headlines in Britain and beyond, new-princess-on-the-block Kate Middleton’s rapidly shrinking size has led to a global debate on her newfound contours.

Middleton, aka the Duchess of Cambridge, has dropped two dress sizes since her engagement to Prince William was announced in November last year. This stoked rumours of stress, brideorexia — a bride’s quick weight-loss before the wedding — and a secret new diet. Though the stress of being associated with British royalty cannot be denied — it’s been more than once tearfully recounted by the late Princess D, so we won’t go into that — brideorexia fuelled by a new diet is the option women looking to turn into shrinking Alices are likely to benefit from.

What’s made the proverbial British stiff upper lip to quiver with indignation, of course, is that the future royal highness is on the Dukan Diet, which is the fashionable French spin-off of the highly popular high-protein Atkins diet from across the Atlantic.

Close on the heels of Middleton senior’s — mother Carole’s — admission that the French plan helped her daughter get willowy enough to be watched by many millions, the English translation of Dr Pierre Dukan’s The Dukan Diet hit bookstores in April. Its promise of sharing the secret of ‘The real reason the French stay thin’ quickly turned it into a cult classic in a world where one billion adults — one in seven — are overweight and more than 300 million obese.

The book, which has already sold 4 million copies in France — though I did wonder why the French need to be told why they are thin — promises weight loss without portion control or counting calories. The Dukan Diet is based on the food our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, which was high in protein and vegetables and bans fruit, carbohydrates, sugar and added fat. What would make carnivores gleeful is that of the 100 foods listed to be eaten in unlimited amounts, 72 are from animal and only 28 from plant sources.

The Dukan diet is divided into four phases, the first two for weight loss and the next for maintaining weight loss. First comes the Attack phase, which lasts from two days to a week, depending on the amount of weight loss sought. It requires dieters to eat only protein — such as lean red meats; fish and shellfish; eggs; and non-fat dairy products — to jump-start weight loss. A 20-minute daily walk is a must.

Next comes the Cruise phase that alternates between protein and starchy vegetables till you reach the desired weight. Third is the Consolidation phase, which reintroduces some carbohydrates, fruit and cheese, and allows two celebration meals a week, including a wine. It lasts five days per pound of weight lost.

The last is Stabilisation, which requires a lifelong commitment to staying active, eating three tablespoons of oat bran a day and only protein one day a week in exchange for eating almost anything the rest of the week.

With a British royal as brand ambassador, this round goes to the French.