The first time I traveled to Europe for an extended period of time (six weeks in 1986 - way before my interest in chocolate) I managed to lose quite a bit of weight.
One of the reasons why was that I spent the first two weeks in Germany (a culture not known for gourmet cuisine) and another was that I was working a nine-day trade fair (Photokina) and so was on my feet from 9am to 8pm every day with few options for eating. For the remaining four weeks I was eating at most two meals a day (skipping lunch) and walking at least five miles a day. So, even though I was in places like Venice, Florence, Nice, Barcelona, and Paris, I was really only eating a light breakfast, no lunch (with the aid of a few light snacks when I got peckish), and only indulging in dinner and trying to be reasonable even then.
During my most recent European Chocolate Road Trip I had a similar experience, though I did some backsliding the second week because I was treated to some phenomenal dinners (and other temptations) and despite the fact that I was consuming quite a bit of chocolate every day.
Here are the secrets to my New New European Chocolate Weight Loss Diet:
1) You have to be in Europe - away from your normal routine. This won't work in Cleveland. Nothing against Cleveland, just see #2.
2) You have to be at least five time zones from your home time. Your body clock needs to be out of sync.
3) You have to get up early and stay out late and be really busy in between (in other words, burn the candle at both ends and
in the middle).
4) Have nothing but coffee (espresso, not American) in the morning until at least 10 am. Three or four cups of good, strong coffee. No sugar or milk. You want to get your heart pumping in high gear. It's okay to have one small slice of pastry as long as it's really, really special - like the Pralus' Praluline
- but only one small slice and not before 10am.
5) Eat small amounts of chocolate at regular intervals throughout the day. You may have as much coffee as you like (two more espressos is about right), and you should drink at least a liter of water as well.
6) Do not eat dinner before 8pm.
7) When you do finally have dinner, make sure you're with lots of friends and that you spend at least three hours at the table. The point is to enjoy the meal and the experience, not just consume food. You may have wine with dinner (not too much as you have to be up early in the morning) and you should make sure to have at least one more glass of water. When you choose your meal, make sure to have a salad and try to avoid dishes with heavy cream sauces. Coffee is always okay (you do have to stay awake until you reach your hotel) - but skip the dessert as nothing will compare with the chocolate you've been eating all day. Do not go to bed before midnight and do not watch CNN or BBC News in your room. Some popular Hollywood film dubbed into a foreign language without subtitles is perfect.
8) Make sure to walk at least three miles every day.
By following this plan you can reasonably expect to shed 5 pounds the first week.
The only things that can set you back is lunch, dinner, and ignoring the morning coffee rule, so try
to stay away from any or all of the following:
a) Having dinner at Michelin 3-star restaurants (my downfall was Le Troigros in Roanne)
b) Ordering a tasting menu for dinner where you ask the chef to "make what he feels like" (at Hôtel - Le château de Champlong in Villerest)
c) Having extended lunches with the managing director (Francois Pralus) of the company you're visiting, and
d) Pulling fresh vanilla macarons and florentins off a speed rack and running them through the warm milk-chocolate waterfall of the tempering machine where the addicting barre infernale is being made.
Too much of these kinds of experiences will set your European weight loss goals off-track. But then you didn't really travel to Europe to lose weight? Did you?