My guest for today is Jean-Philippe Ricau — a famous Cypriot nutritionist and writer, who says that he has made two important decisions in his life: becoming a professional nutritionist and moving to Cyprus.
Please welcome Jean-Philippe!
I was born in Toulouse, which is in the south of France. I moved to Cyprus when I was only 28 years old and have spent over 20 years here.
I had a happy childhood. I grew up in a family of five children. I have two sisters and two brothers. I was the youngest child to leave our family home.
I've always wanted to take care of people and their wellbeing. I knew I didn’t want to become a doctor, but I’ve always liked food so I decided to become a nutritionist. I was lucky because my school and university were located very close to my hometown. So I didn’t have to go very far from my family.
When I was a student I met my first wife. She came from Cyprus to study psychology in Toulouse. When we graduated, we decided to go to Cyprus together.
It wasn’t an easy decision for me. But the fact that my partner was born there certainly made it easier to assimilate. When we were still students, she told me that there was a shortage of good nutritionists in Cyprus and that I could fill that niche. That’s how I became a nutritionist and ended up here in 1996.
When we got here, we both had to start from scratch. We called this place the «Island of Love», just like many other people do. It was what made me want to move here.
All I had to do when we moved to Cyprus was open an office and find clients to show them that my method really worked.
Six months later I was surprised to see how much work I had. So many people were coming to try something new. I think that my French background was of great help to me. Having a French diploma allows me to work almost anywhere in the world.
20 years ago there were only 30 nutritionists here. Now there are more than 350! I definitely came at the right time.
Most of my clients are looking to lose weight. I ask them to follow a certain diet and come for regular check-ups. I like to witness their progress and to see their diet preferences evolve. Do you want to know a secret? It is simple. My strategy for success relies on three principles of healthy eating: balance, variety and moderation.
In addition to that, I also write books.
The first book I wrote is called «Healthy Recipes For Women in Heels and Men in Ties». It is a culinary book for people who have very little time to cook, but would still like to eat healthy.
My latest publication is called «Lose weight without dieting». It is a type of nutrition guide, in which I explain:
- how to lose weight safely and effectively without dieting
- why most diets don’t work
- why only 5% of people who go on a diet end up losing weight
- the consequences of healthy eating for your future
- how to lose weight without gaining it back
I am always extremely pleased to see my clients improve their eating habits. And I am even more pleased to see tangible results from these changes.
My most impressive result has been a 27-year old man, who now weighs 180 kilos, after losing 80 kilos in just 18 months.
I try to make the weight loss process fun and pleasant. A true nutritionist is also a good psychologist.
It is important to observe your patients’ mental state as well. They need reassurance and motivation from their nutritionist. They need to be in a positive mental state and to learn to control their emotions. I work with my patients using a simple approach, motivation and consistent actions.
I am inspired by the results of my work, which I love. Helping people and seeing them change inside and out is amazing! I am always brimming with positive energy and enthusiasm. And I was lucky to receive support and assistance from my partner when I first started working.
Sometimes I come across pretty radical people who perform dangerous experiments on their bodies and weight. That’s also part of my work.
I am quite active and athletic for a 50-year old man. I like skiing, swimming, windsurfing, kite surfing, mountain bike riding and even paragliding.
I own a few blokarts, which I like to drive in the Akrotiri Salt Lake near Lady’s Mile Beach, where I also offer individual and group classes. You can learn about it here: www.blokartcyprus.com.
I love spending free time outside. And can't stand being inside for long periods of time when I am not working.
In addition to practicing sports, I also like to create cooking videos together with a friend of mine. We try to do it as often as we get a chance and publish them on Youtube.
This way I get to share health ideas and great recipes with a very large audience. Bon appétit!
I speak fluent Greek and really like it here. Being able to speak the language lets you feel the nuances of the culture.
My second wife is also a Cypriot. When we met, she couldn't speak French. Now she is fluent in it. At home we speak both languages and it's a lot of fun.
I guess you could say that I reinvented myself in Cyprus, but my heart and habits are still French. Whenever I get a chance, I try to express my love for France.
If you want to become a Cypriot, you need to fall in love with this country and accept its nature. It's very important. Family, friends and other locals expect you to share your life and ideas with them. That's how you become a true Cypriot.
Despite the fact that I still don’t have a Cypriot citizenship, I consider myself a true Franco-Cypriot.
The thing that amazes me the most about Cyprus is its people. They are always surprised to learn that I’ve left France to come here. They are always looking to move somewhere else, even though they don’t fully know this small island. I often tell Cypriots about local attractions that they’ve never even heard of. Can you imagine that?
You want to know what I like the most about Cyprus?
I’ve been living here for so many years, I do feel I have become part of the local community.
I love to travel abroad during my holidays. But unlike many people I'm always happy to come back to Cyprus. This is going to sound weird, but sometimes I feel like, over the last 20 years, things haven’t changed here much, and at the same time there are moments when this place seems very progressive.
Mountain villages are very relaxing, while Ayia Napa and its intense lifestyle often test your principles.
Everywhere you go in Cyprus, you will discover completely different lifestyles and traditions. This contrast is what Cyprus is all about!
Thanks to the Internet, I get to speak to my family and friends in France a lot. This makes me feel closer to them.
I go back to France once or twice a year, usually in August in order to avoid famously hot temperatures.
I get to interact with many French expats here in Cyprus. We usually have dinner together or meet at different social gatherings.
Let's talk about how I spend my free time. I am a very active person and I am always doing something even when I have free time. So whenever my wife and I go to the beach, I either swim or windsurf.
Lying down on a towel and sunbathing is just not for me.
As far as future travel plans go, I would love to go to New Zealand. It's a beautiful country with unique nature and an incredible variety of extreme sports, which I am crazy about.
I've already been to a number of remote places around the world. One of the places that have impressed me the most was Mongolia. Living like a nomad was an absolutely unique experience for me.
Anyone who wants to discover Cyprus should visit the sea caves in Protaras, which is an incredible place. The Akamas Peninsula is also a must-see. Get there by boat (you can rent any private boat for about 200 euros, which you can then sail to the blue lagoon) or rent a four-wheeler that will also let you get to the most remote parts of Cyprus, which you wouldn’t be able to access by a regular car.
If you are planning to go up to the mountains, visit some of the wine factories there (such as the Lambouri factory in Platres). Also visit Sparty Rope Adventure Park.
Try to avoid staying at an all-inclusive hotel. Do visit and experience as many new places and activities as you can. This may be a small island, but it has a lot to offer. Intimate, hidden beaches, sea caves, breathtaking villages — these are all important facets of this country.
Visit the mountain. Did you know that for a few days in the winter, you can also go skiing there?
Take advantage of local cuisine — thanks to the abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood, it is one of the healthiest in the world.
And just generally try to spend more time outside, breathing fresh air and swimming. It's very good for your body.
And do become part of this unforgettable adventure, which is Cyprus!