Our friends/enemies in the quest for a balanced weight with Dr Magali Flot

Graduate of the faculty of medicine of the University of Nancy in France, Dr Magali Flot specialises in nutrition, obesity and eating disorders. Her psychobehavioural approach to nutritional problems is very appreciated by her patients, because she deals with aspects linked to the body as well as the mind, to ensure long term results. Dr Flot’s arrival at Clinique La Prairie in November 2016 completed the range of numerous medical specialities available under the same roof.

With the springtime around the corner, we have taken advantage of the advice of our nutritional expert, to find out more about our friends or enemies, in the quest for a balanced weight in the long term.

Diets – friends or enemies?

They are enemy number 1! It doesn’t matter what kind of diet (Dukan, Paleo, ketogenic Mediterranean, etc.), we have realised that in 80% of cases, the subjects put the weight back on again within a year, and even more in the long term. A diet is a mental control of eating, and that is exactly what must be avoided. The constraints imposed by diets disturb the regulatory mechanisms of eating behaviour, and encourages weight gain. In other words, diets make you gain weight! This control is not natural and difficult to maintain in the long term, during difficult periods on an emotional level.

Diets should only be suggested in certain situations, and these are done under medical supervision.

Instinct – friend or enemy?

Your natural instinct is your friend. The key to losing weight in the long term, is to re-learn to eat respecting these physiological sensations, which are hunger and fullness, instead of eating to relieve your emotions, or out of habit.

Media and trends impose fashionable diets, and demonise certain foods. This leads to reflective eating, which can lead to neglecting your eating sensations, and that is how eating disorders are caused. You have to re-learn to eat, whilst listening to your body and not your head. A useful exercise is to look for and understand your hunger, and confront it, to better identify the different signals, and recognise when we eat for pleasure or hunger.

So, eating normally, is listening to your eating sensations, eating with moderate hunger, stopping when you have a moderate feeling of satiety, but it is also disobeying these principles whenever you feel like it. It is not abnormal to eat for pleasure, as long as it is not too frequent.

The tradition of three meals a day – friend or enemy?

It is an important tradition at the heart of numerous families, and this is part of social sharing, but the number of meals per day is not very important. It is primarily the calorific content that must remain the same, and not exceed the recommended values. So, it is necessary to differentiate between impulsive snacking, and small meals 6 times a day for example.

Meat – friend or enemy?

For me, it is a friend. I am not against meat in the diet, at least not for dietary reasons. Meat provides proteins which are indispensable for the functioning of the body.

It should however be eaten in moderation (not more than two or three times per week) and cooked without using too much fat.

Sugar – friend or enemy?

Unfortunately, sugar is an enemy…..but not all kinds of sugar! The refined sugar contained in prepared foods or sweets is bad, because it destabilises the natural blood glucose, and leads to snacking. However, the sugar naturally contained in glucides and fruits for example, is good, even essential, because it feeds the vital functions like those of the brain, which are primarily fuelled by sugar (glucose). Our daily need for sugar, is found in sufficient quantity in our general diet. So, there is no need to eat more. For food lovers, desserts should be eaten in moderation.

Sleep friend or enemy?

It is our best friend! In the treatment of obesity, we systematically question the quality of sleep. A lack of sleep stimulates the secretion of the hunger hormone: ghrelin and reduces the hormone for satiety: leptin. This explains feeling very hungry or sugar cravings when we are tired.

Also, a weight gain can lead to sleep problems, like snoring or even conditions like sleep apnoea. The lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity, purely due to the fact that obesity affects sleep: it is the start of a vicious circle!

Detoxes – friends or enemies?

It depends. It is important to differentiate between a detox and a diet. The objective of a detox cure is not to lose weight, but to eliminate residual toxins with very healthy eating, rich in antioxidants, with detoxifying foods. A person who usually doesn’t eat very clean, is sure to lose some weight as a result.

An annual detox is very beneficial, because even with a very healthy way of life, we cannot avoid toxins.

Find the profile of Dr Flot on our website.

Dr. Magali Flot