Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

The Little Black Dress Diet

We've all been there - a hot date, dinner with the boss, a smart Christmas cocktail party and you suddenly realise you're mysteriously a size larger than you were when you bought that expensive little black number. Or the chaps discover that the cummerbund won't quite cover the flesh-revealing gap between the popping buttons on their dress shirt. Disaster.

As a naturopath, I can tell you that crash diets don't work. They're not healthy and, on less than 1,000 calories a day it's impossible to get all the nutrients you need and sustain the energy to lead a normal life. In any case, the minute you stop you put on all the weight you've lost, plus some.

That said, however, there are situations when people need to lose weight quickly - if, for example, they have to go into hospital for an operation or their excess weight is putting severe strain on already damaged muscles, joints or tendons.

So here's a 10-day regime which I've used for my patients for many years with great success - and I suppose you could call the little black dress disaster an emergency.

Follow this plan and you really can lose 10lbs in 10 days with this healthy eating regime, which is loosely based on the principles of food combining. The first three days are fairly drastic, but after that you shouldn't feel hungry or tired and you will enjoy real food. The basic principle is that you don't mix starch and protein in the same meal. People talk a lot of pseudo-scientific claptrap about food combining and the truth is, I've no idea why it works but I can promise you that it does.

As well as the food, make sure that you take 3 tspns a day of the Swiss herbal tonic Bio-Strath elixir to boost your natural immunity, 1 Genesis vitamin and mineral pill as extra health insurance and that you have at least 1 litre of water in addition to your normal drinks. For this 10 days, keep off the alcohol if you really want to lose the pounds.


Breakfast: a large melon.

Light meal or snack: Vegetable soup or carrot and celery juice. Raw vegetable salad with brown rice and olive oil and lemon juice dressing.
Main meal: Mixed salad. Any cooked green vegetables with a well-rinsed can of your favourite beans (not baked) and 1 tspn olive oil.

DAY 2:

Breakfast: Freshly juiced apple and carrot or fresh orange.

Light meal or snack: The rest of yesterday's soup. Salad, baked sweet potatoes.

Main meal: Salad, cooked green vegetables. Cooked cauliflower sprinkled with grated cheese and browned under the grill.

DAY 3:

Breakfast: A cup of hot water mixed with soya milk and 2 tbspns molasses. 2 slices of wholewheat bread and butter.

Light meal or snack: Large selection of fruit with raisins and dates.

Main meal: Salad. Cooked green vegetables. Wholewheat pasta and tomato sauce.


Breakfast: Half a grapefruit. Apple. Natural yogurt with a little honey and chopped nuts.

Light meal or snack: Baked potato with butter or 1 tbspn sour cream and chopped fresh herbs. Coleslaw. A ripe sweet pear.

Main meal: Vegetable and cheese casserole: Wash and slice 1 green, 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, 2 courgettes, 3 tomatoes, 1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic. Rub casserole dish with olive oil. Add vegetables in layers, sprinkling each layer with a little olive oil and chopped parsley and basil. Cover with foil. Bake at 180C/350F/gas 4 for 45 mins. Remove foil. Sprinkle with 2 tbspns grated Parmesan and return to over until cheese is golden. Serve with steamed broccoli. Orange.


Breakfast: Porridge made with water and 1tbs single cream. 1 slice wholewheat bread or toast with a little butter.

Light meal or snack: Winter salad: Mix shredded white cabbage, orange juice, 4 soaked dried apricots and 2 tbspns chopped walnuts. Top with a dressing of 2 tbspns natural yogurt, 2 tspns runny honey and grated lemon rind. Stewed apple cooked with cinnamon and cloves.

Main meal: Watercress Soup. Grilled spiced chicken: Allow 1 skinned chicken breast per person and cook extra as this is delicious cold the next day. Chop onion and garlic and put in bowl with natural yogurt. Heat 1 tspn each coriander and cumin seeds for 2 mins. Crush and add to yogurt with half a tspn chilli powder. Pour over chicken and leave for 1 hour. Grill the chicken 10 mins each side, basting occasionally with marinade. Serve with steamed leeks and carrots.


Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms. Orange juice.

Light meal or snack: Pumpkin soup. Wholewheat roll and butter. Watercress, avocado and celery salad.

Main meal: Humous with celery, carrot, and fennel sticks. Grilled trout stuffed with lemon slices and baby spinach. Steamed green cabbage.


Breakfast: Grapefruit juice. Stewed apples sprinkled with flaked almonds. Natural yogurt.

Light meal or snack: Mushroom Risotto. A tossed green salad. A ripe sweet pear.

Main meal: Stir fry of lean lamb cut into thin strips with a packet of mixed stir-fry vegetables. Sticks of celery and an apple.


Breakfast: Muesli with a sliced banana and a little single cream.

Light meal or snack: Large baked potato with baked beans. Chicory and watercress salad.

Main meal: Carrot, Ginger and Orange Soup. Cod with yogurt crust: Put large carton of natural yogurt, 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves peeled garlic, 3 tbspns coriander seeds, 2 tbspns fresh mint, 2 tspns ground cumin, 2 tspns dried dill, 2 tspns paprika, plenty of nutmeg and 2 tbspns chopped parsley into blender. Put 4 cod fillets into dish. Pour over sauce and put under very hot grill basting until a crust forms on fish. Serve with mixed salad.


Breakfast: Dried Fruit Compote with 1 tbs Greek yogurt.

Light meal or snack: Hot wholemeal pitta filled with humous, spring onions, tomato and lettuce. Bunch of grapes. Banana.

Main meal: Half a grapefruit. Poached salmon. Cauliflower puree. Tossed green salad.

DAY 10

Breakfast: 2 rashers lean grilled bacon with 1 scrambled egg, mushrooms and large grilled tomato.

Light meal or snack: Winter Salad. Apple.

Main meal: Small avocado and prawn salad. Roast lamb., most of the fat removed and cooked with plenty of garlic and rosemary. Puree of Turnips and Carrots. Celery sticks and selection of cheese.


Planning packed lunches that are either starch or protein is certainly trickier than making up a few sandwiches with cheese, salami, or cold chicken, adding a carton of yogurt, perhaps, and an apple. But these suggestions for a working week of both starch and protein packed lunches are simple substitutes for the midday light meals in the diet plan.

If you're cooking rice for dinner, make extra, add dressing while it's still hot and pack it for lunch the next morning, adding pieces of cucumber, tomato, black olives, cress, spring onions or whatever salad stuff you have. Make extra quantities of comforting thick vegetable soups in the evening, and save some for next day's packed lunch and take them in a thermos.


MONDAY: Wholewheat pitta pocket stuffed with cucumber, tomato, watercress, black olives, lettuce and a dribble of olive oil. Raisins and nuts.

TUESDAY: Wholewheat sandwiches with hardboiled egg-yolks mashed with mayonnaise, slices of cucumber and cress. 2 oatmeal biscuits. A banana.

WEDNESDAY: A thermos of thick vegetable soup. A wholewheat roll or rye crackers with butter. Carrot salad with raisins and nuts. Banana.

THURSDAY: Rice Salad. Rye crispbread. A ripe sweet pear.

FRIDAY: Sticks of carrot, celery, fennel, cucumber, sprigs of cauliflower with tzatsiki for dipping. Wholewheat roll with butter.


MONDAY; Natural cottage cheese. An apple. A hardboiled egg. Chunks of carrot, celery, cucumber, fennel.

TUESDAY: Cabbage, celery, apple and grated Gruyere cheese salad. Orange or grapes. 25g/1oz roasted almonds. Yogurt.

WEDNESDAY: Crudites with guacamole. A carton of stewed Apple with Ginger with 2 tbs yogurt stirred in. Assorted nuts.

THURSDAY; A piece of cold roast chicken or slices of cold roast turkey breast. Apple, celery and peanut salad. Grapes.

FRIDAY: Natural yogurt. Sticks of celery. A piece of hard cheese. Apple. Dates

Congratulations, if you haven't cheated too much, you should have easily gone down a dress size if you needed to. Don't go out on the binge tomorrow and stuff yourself with chocolate, buns and booze. You've worked hard, so now you can reap the reward of your efforts. You could safely follow this diet for another 10 days if it's really vital and it's fine to repeat the whole process three or four times a year.

Don't forget that even a modest amount of extra exercise will allow you to eat a bit more, enjoy a couple of glasses of wine a day - and the occasional indulgence - without putting back those lost pounds. Why not buy a skipping rope - 10 minutes a day equals a couple of cream cakes?


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