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Alcohol is fattening! That is what you believe, because that is what you have been told. You may even have been made to feel guilty by people who have implied that all your unwanted pounds could be put down to alcohol, with no need to look further. Let us try and make an objective assessment.

It is true that alcohol is fattening. But much less fattening than sugar, white bread, potatoes or rice. That is why, very soon after you have shed your unwanted pounds, you will be able to reintroduce wine into your diet in reasonable quantity (up to about half a litre of wine a day, about three glasses, for a man, though women should reduce this by a third). The energy provided by alcohol is used by the body as a first resource for immediate needs, and while the body is using this fuel it will not be burning up stored body fat. This means that the alcohol is preventing you losing weight. However, this happens in particular when it is imbibed on an empty stomach. When the stomach is already full, particularly if it is full of protein- lipids (such as meat, fish or cheese), the alcohol is metabolised much less rapidly because it is mixed with these other foods, and so produces little stored fat. What must be categorically given up is the aperitif. If you really feel you have to keep your guests company, have something non-alcoholic like tomato juice or mineral water.

The only noble aperitif, to my mind, is a glass of good champagne or good white wine (I say "white" advisedly). But, I implore you, do not let people adulterate your wine, as often happens to disguise its mediocre quality, with blackcurrant liqueur or those other weird syrups which people come up with just for the sake of something new.

So, if you really must, accept a glass of champagne but, above all, do not drink it on an empty stomach. Help yourself to a few "nibles"first. Beware, though! They must be non-carbohydrate "nibbles". You will soon learn to recognise them. Crisps and cocktail biscuits of all sorts are out. Olives, cheese, cocktail sausages or fish are acceptable.

In Phase I, though, you should try to exclude aperitifs completely. Phase I is the time for being really strict in applying the basic rules of the Method, as this is the way you will lose weight.

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