SHAPE's diet doctor on whether adding some bubbly to your diet is worth considering

By Alanna Nuñez
December 12, 2011

I don't know about you, but drinking champagne just makes me feel sophisticated. So when I heard that one of the newest healthy eating trends was called the Champagne Diet, I was intrigued. The Champagne Diet was developed by Cara Alwills Leyba, a 31-year-old writer living in N.Y. who says that she spent her entire life dieting and feeling miserable. So she ditched her routine and developed an alternative, hence, the Champagne Diet was born. Leyba's philosophy is that if you indulge every day in rich, high-quality, "classy" foods (and yes, that includes at least one glass of champagne a day) that you ordinarily wouldn't eat, you'll feel better about yourself and be tempted to eat less. There are no restricted foods and no "rules" in the traditional dieting sense.

Sounds delicious and oh-so-sophisticated, right? We wanted to get the nutritional low-down on this new fad, so we went to Dr. Mike Roussell, PhD, to get his take on the Champagne Diet. Here's what he had to say:

"This basically sounds like she added alcohol consumption on a regular basis to her diet," Dr. Roussell says. "If I were trying to lose weight, I wouldn't even know what I was supposed to do besides add the alochol."

While the foundation of the Champagne Diet may be solid- after all, no one would argue that sensible eating and moderate alcohol consumption is inherently harmful- the plan may lack structure for those who are trying to lose weight. Because there are no guidelines to this diet, it's not a concrete strategy most people could follow, Dr. Roussell says, which is a recipe for failure. If you want to lose weight, it's important to change your habits, which inevitably means that you will be "dieting" at some point.

"You're not supposed to diet forever," he says. "If Leyba spent her entire life dieting, I'm not surprised to hear that she was miserable and frustrated." Instead, Dr. Roussell says it's better to develop a three-phased approach to losing weight.

"If you're trying to lose weight, a smarter approach is to try and develop healthy eating habits," he says. "Then give yourself a set period of time, say three months, to lose the weight, and when you lose the weight you want, transition slowly back into the healthy eating habits you had developed."

It's important to remember that during the set period of time you give yourself to lose weight, you will have to change your eating and exercise habits, he says.

Similar to the book, French Women Don't Get Fat, Leyba (who's not a nutritionist or dietitian) encourages indulging in what you want, but focusing on the quality of the food over quantity. Ultimately, the Champagne Diet is more of a sensible eating approach with alcohol thrown in for good measure. And while the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption have been well-documented, there's nothing inherently special about champagne, Dr. Roussell says.

Bottom line? If you're trying to lose weight, there are better ways to do so. If you're not, and you really enjoy champagne, then this healthy eating regime might be worth a try.

What do you think? Are you fans of the Champagne Diet?