The intelligent diet: Exclusive secrets from the Viva Mayr clinic
On the shores of Austria’s picturesque Lake Worth lies a private clinic that has achieved an almost cult-like status among its loyal devotees, who include celebrities, business execs and Russian oligarchs.
In the five years since it opened, an array of wealthy clients – including Sarah Ferguson and former newspaper editor Dominic Lawson – have visited the Viva Mayr clinic, a spacumhospital where ‘patients’ fork out more than £2,300 each for a weekly stay.
Visitors do not come for the clean air and strudel, however. The Viva Mayr clinic is renowned for its strict – but incredibly effective – ‘cure’ that purges the body of toxins, leaving your body more toned, your stomach flatter and skin brighter in a matter of days.
Body beautiful: The Viva Mayr clinic is renowned for its ‘cure’ which gives a flatter stomach within days
Clients leave the clinic several pounds lighter, with their skin glowing and their energy boosted.
Now, we can reveal the secrets of the clinic in an exclusive extract from the Viva Mayr Diet, which promises a flatter tummy and younger skin in just 14 days – with no faddy fitness routines and no intensive crash dieting.
Smart, simple and achievable, this intelligent diet series takes the gimmicks out of dieting, just in time for the summer holidays.
The programme has been developed by Dr Harald Stossier from a popular 80-year-old Austrian medical spa ‘cure’ devised originally by Dr Franz Mayr, the first person to make a direct link between digestive health and overall health and attractiveness.
By following a programme that enhances natural digestive processes, Stossier says that within 14 days his diet will not just help you to lose a substantial amount of weight, but it can also put an end to bloating and digestive problems, give you more energy and clearer skin – and might even help you sleep better. Easy to follow, with no calorie counting or living off cabbage soup for weeks, the Viva Mayr Diet promises to change your eating habits and shape for ever.
THE FIRST STEPS
Because this diet works to improve the way you digest your food and eliminates things like caffeine and sugar, which can have a detrimental effect on our metabolism, you might feel a little headachey or tired for the first three days as the cleansing effects of the diet start to kick in – but stick with it. Once you come out the other side, you’ll feel amazing.
Although, like any diet, what you eat is important, on the Viva Mayr Diet how you eat is equally vital.
WHAT TO EAT, WHEN
To start losing weight, Dr Stossier says you need to be aware of your digestive system’s rhythms. ‘Just as our bodies and minds tire towards the evening, so does our digestive system,’ he explains.
‘In the first half of the day – when we are rested and raring to go – we can digest basically anything at all. This is, therefore, the time to eat your main meals of the day, and it is also the best time to eat raw foods such as fruit and vegetables, which can be difficult to digest.
‘Dinner should always be something light and easy to digest, like soup, lightly cooked vegetables and fish – and eaten before 6pm ideally, to allow thorough digestion before you go to sleep.’
THE ART OF CHEWING
According to Dr Stossier, a thorough chewing technique is another indispensable element to losing weight quickly, and encouraging overall health and well-being.
When you chew more, you tend to eat less because – unlike when you thoughtlessly bolt your food – your brain has the time it needs to send signals to your stomach, telling it when you’ve had enough.
You also tend to eat less when you chew well, because chewing helps the nutrients in food to be released and absorbed more effectively. A wellnourished body suffers from fewer cravings.
You should chew every mouthful of your food between 30 and 40 times, at every meal, until food is liquid. It could be helpful to count at the beginning of your chewing training, to get you into the rhythm of it.
Practise on a small piece of dense wholemeal bread (bread that is a couple of days old is particularly good, as it’s extra chewy). Really savour the bread as you chew – and move it around your mouth. Try to think about the nutrients you are putting into your body as you chew.
At first, you will only manage to get to 15 or so, but this soon improves with practice – and chewing your food thoroughly will become almost unconscious after a couple of days.
Renowned: The Viva Mayr Clinic’s diet purges your body of toxins
WHAT TO DRINK
Like many diets, water plays a big part in the programme – but it is the way it is used to encourage good digestion and weight loss that’s interesting.
Dr Stossier recommends a cleansing cup of warm water first thing in the morning – before food – then two to three litres of filtered water throughout the day (at the clinic, quartz crystals are dropped in the bottom of water carafes to ‘cleanse’ and improve the water).
All your water has to be drunk between meals.
Dr Stossier explains: ‘If we drink while we are eating, we dilute our saliva just at the very moment we need it in a concentrated form to digest our food. Drinking water between meals – no less than 15 minutes before a meal and no less than an hour after a meal – is the best habit to get into.’
Aside from water, you can drink milk, herbal teas and fruit or vegetable juices. Tea and coffee are off the menu, because of their caffeine content, as are fizzy drinks. If you really must have something to drink with a meal,
Stossier recommends tiny sips of herbal tea or a small glass of wine. Wine is allowed because it can help to dissolve fat during digestion.
WHAT TO EAT
There are no fads or gimmicks to this intelligent diet, just a commonsense approach to weight loss. ‘There is no mystery to losing weight; cut down on carbohydrates – and the amount you eat overall – and increase your intake of unsaturated fatty acids,’ says Dr Stossier.
‘We are told, as a dietary rule, to always eat plenty of carbohydrates for energy,’ he explains. ‘But following a diet high in carbs can cause weight problems. Carbs are converted into sugars as they are digested – so if we eat a lot of carbs, the pancreas has to produce large amounts of the hormone insulin to balance blood sugar levels, metabolise them, and to use their energy.’
‘Unfortunately, a biproduct of having a lot of insulin in the blood is that any excess energy from the carbs we have eaten is quickly stored away in our bodies as fat.’
As long as insulin levels remain high, we will also store the other components of food, such as protein or fat. This can have a massive influence on our weight.
Stossier doesn’t like to break our diet down into percentages, but he believes that if we focus on fresh fruit and vegetables and good-quality proteins and fats, we really won’t be hungry enough to fill ourselves with carbohydrates – and, in particular, the unhealthy types, such as those made with white flour and lots of sugar.
Cut down on carbs by taking much smaller portions, and choosing wholegrain varieties that fill you up.
EAT MORE FAT
Fats are also important to overall health and are an essential part of this diet. But fats are not all created equal.
As you would on any healthy diet, it’s important to avoid the unhealthy saturated types – in particular hydrogenated fats or trans-fats (often found in processed foods and margarines).
In moderation, whole fresh milk, cream and butter are better, because they are natural. But it’s best to avoid very fatty cuts of meat and processed meat products such as sausages.
But the fats you really need to eat are the omega oils 3, 6 and 9 – found in cold-pressed nut and seed oils such as olive, linseed, hemp and sunflower. Not only can these fats help to keep you healthy, but they improve your overall health and even help you to lose weight. Omega oils (Omega 3 in particular – found in hemp and linseed) have also been found to encourage fat-burning in our bodies.
The ideal is to have approximately two tablespoons of one of these oils every day – so use them as much as you would salt and pepper. Drizzle over food, or stir into your cooking.
Nuts and seeds – which contain omega fatty acids in natural form – are great as a snack (although Dr Stossier claims you won’t feel the need to snack if you follow the diet carefully) or sprinkled over salads, fish, porridge and so on.
CONTROL YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE
Proteins are an important part of a healthy diet, but you should avoid too many. A diet heavy on proteins can put the body’s detoxification organs, such as the liver and kidneys, under enormous pressure, leading to the potential for toxin overload in the body.
Dr Stossier suggests that we should eat fish and other animal proteins, such as cheese and meat, a maximum of every second day. Better for you are vegetable sources such as pulses, seeds and nuts, which provide the amino acids we need to stay healthy in a more easily digested form.
If you are going to eat animal proteins, white meat, such as turkey, veal and chicken, is less likely to cause digestion problems, followed by lamb, then red meat and last of all pork.
All fish is fine and it’s worth bearing in mind that cream cheese – and goat’s and sheep’s cheeses – are more easily digested than hard cow’s milk cheeses.
Don’t forget fibre, which is essential for optimal digestion. So where appropriate, opt for wholemeal cereals, pasta, noodles, wholegrain rice and so on.
Eat your greens, reds, yellows and purples. Other foods you should make a beeline for on the Viva Mayr Diet are brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, which are packed with protective antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and are a good source of fibre.
THE INTELLIGENT DIET…
Over the next few days we will be printing more menus and recipes to help you stick to the Viva Mayr plan. As you read more about the diet – all serve four unless otherwise stated – you will be able to start putting together your own meals too…
Day One Recipes
Fruit muesli with nuts
2 tbsp whole linseeds (flaxseeds)
80g soft, fresh goat’s or sheep’s cheese (unsalted)
1 tsp honey
2-3 tbsp unsweetened soya milk
Lemon or orange juice (to taste)
100g fresh, ripe fruits of the season
3 tbsp linseed/flex/hemp oil
Roughly chop the walnuts, almonds and linseeds in a coffee grinder or food processor. Place in a glass bowl, and stir in the cheese, honey and soya milk. Season with lemon or orange juice to taste. Peel and dice fruit (leaving berries whole). Divide the mixture into two bowls, and sprinkle with the fruit. Drizzle with oil and serve.
Vegetable salad with chicken strips
Coconut oil 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
2 pinches of rock salt
1 stalk rosemary, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
500g mixed salad leaves
2 tomatoes, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
4 radishes, diced
1 kohlrabi, cut into strips
Fresh herbs to garnish
Heat a little coconut oil in a frying pan. Season the chicken breasts with a pinch of salt, sprinkle with rosemary, and fry for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Cut the chicken into strips and set to one side. Blend together the oil, cider vinegar and the final pinch of rock salt. Mix together your salad leaves and vegetables, and dress with the oil and vinegar dressing. Serve on a platter with the chicken on top. Garnish with fresh herbs.
Fresh berry cream
120g soft goat’s or sheep’s cheese
100g fresh berries, puréed and sieved
2 tbsp honey
250ml fresh cream, whipped
4 fresh mint leaves
Blend together the cheese, berry purée (reserving 20ml for later) and honey. Fold in the whipped cream, and decant into four glasses. Spoon a teaspoon of berry purée over the top of each of the berry creams, and then garnish with a mint leaf. Serve.
Soft polenta with steamed vegetables and herbs
500ml water or vegetable stock
200g very fine polenta
Rock salt, to taste
100g each of broccoli, fennel, carrots, courgettes and kohlrabi, all cubed
Marjoram or basil leaves to garnish
In a saucepan, bring the water or vegetable stock to the boil, and stir in the polenta. Add the butter and sea salt, and continue cooking for a few more minutes.
Remove the polenta from the heat, cover the saucepan and leave to sit for 20 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed. Next, steam the vegetables for a few minutes. Place the polenta on plates, and arrange vegetables over top. Sprinkle with herbs, and serve.
Treat: Fresh berry cream
Day Two Recipes
Green tea (drink in tiny sips), slice of spelt or dense wholemeal bread; fresh vegetable sticks with herbal spread
(You can use Ryvita, rye or dense wholemeal bread from the supermarket if you prefer)
125g sheep’s or goat’s milk yoghurt
125g spelt flour
Mix all the ingredients together using a food mixer and leave to stand for eight hours in a warm place (an airing cupboard, or above an oven that has been previously heated). The dough is quite liquid at first, but it will firm up as it stands.
750g spelt flour
250ml warm water
1 1/2 tbsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp each of: rock or sea salt, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground aniseed, ground fennel seeds
The sourdough made earlier (part one)
Mix all of the ingredients together with the sourdough and stir for 8-10 minutes – you might want to use a food mixer.
Form flatbreads of approximately 70g each from the dough; leave them to rise for 45 minutes on a lightly floured baking tray, then prick the surface and bake at 190C for 15 minutes, until breads are golden brown. Leave to rest for a day and freeze any extra bread until you need it.
Vegetable sticks and herbal spread
100g each of carrot, celery and spring onions cut into batons
100g tomatoes, quartered
200g fresh, unsalted soft goat’s or sheep’s cheese
50g mixed fresh herbs, such as chervil, parsley, basil, coriander, sage or tarragon, chopped
2-3 tbsp cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
A pinch of rock salt
Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or liquidiser, until smooth and creamy.
Place the vegetables on a platter, and serve with the spread. LUNCH Leafy salad with walnuts, apples and linseed dressing and potato and vegetable gratin with spinach sauce
400g mixed salad leaves
2 apples, cored and quartered
50g whole walnuts
4 tbsp linseed oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2-3 leaves of fresh basil
1 tbsp sour cream
A pinch of rock salt
1 punnet cress
Wash salad leaves thoroughly and spin dry. Add the apples and walnuts and set to one side.
In a liquidiser, blend together the linseed oil, lime juice, basil, sour cream and salt until smooth and creamy. Arrange the salad on glass plates and sprinkle with dressing. Top with cress, and serve.
Potato and vegetable gratin with spinach sauce
1kg waxy potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into very thin slices
100g each of carrots, courgettes, celeriac, washed and grated
250ml double cream
Fresh herbs, finely chopped 1 nutmeg, grated
Pinch of rock salt
Olive oil 500ml vegetable stock or water 300g fresh spinach, washed
A pinch of rock salt
A pinch of grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 175C, 325F, gas mark 3. Mix together the sliced potato and grated vegetables, and stir in the cream. Season with the fresh herbs, nutmeg and rock salt. Next, grease an oven-proof baking dish with olive oil, and pour in the potato and vegetable mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes.
While it’s cooking, bring your water or vegetable stock to the boil and add the spinach. Boil for one minute, then liquidise the spinach with the stock.
Season to taste with rock salt and ground nutmeg. If desired, add fresh herbs. When the gratin is browned, remove from the oven and serve immediately with spinach sauce.
Poached trout with vegetables and lemongrass
500ml organic vegetable stock or water
A small bunch of fresh basil or parsley, finely chopped 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
A pinch of rock salt
4 fresh trout fillets (or salmon, if you wish)
100g each of carrot, celery, parsnip and courgette – all cut into 2mm semi-circles Lemongrass and fresh herbs, chopped, to garnish
In a shallow pan, bring the stock or water to a boil and stir in the herbs, lemongrass and salt. Next, preheat a non-stick frying pan and add a few drops of olive oil. When hot, add the vegetables and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the fish fillets to the stock and poach for a few minutes. Remove them from the poaching liquid and set to one side. Cover. Pour the stock over the vegetables and simmer until tender. Drain.
Arrange the vegetables on a plate and top with fish. Sprinkle with lemongrass and herbs and serve.
Extracted from The Viva Mayr Diet by Harald Stossier and Helena Frith Powell, HarperCollins at £12.99. ° Harald Stossier and Helena Frith Powell 2009. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi-based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor-in-chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She is working on a thriller set in Sweden as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
In 2022 her short story The Japanese Gardener came second in the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize. One of her stories was also shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize. When she’s not writing, she works as a headhunter for the media and entertainment industry for the Sucherman Group.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
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The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019