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Not a diet - your small cooking changes that make a big difference?

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sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 04:39 PM

What changes have you made in your cooking (tecniques, ingredients, portion control, substitutions), that have made the biggest impact on how you look and feel?

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  1. c
    Cinnamon RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 04:57 PM

    I would say, two things...

    1) Keeping bread-y things to a minimum (and not using corn-based things as I'm sensitive to that)

    2) Ditching questionable oils but emphasizing olive oil for things that don't require much heat and coconut oil (a little) for things that take high heat. (Not afraid of bacon grease, etc., in small quantities occasionally either.) There are tons of opinions on what fats are worst or best... this is more or less the approach I personally think makes the most sense: (Most of the key info is in the portion that's readable without entering an e-mail address.)
    http://www.mercola.com/2003/oct/15/co...

    1. s
      SarahEats RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 05:13 PM

      I would say portion control and multi-dish meals. Instead of cooking a pound of pasta for just the two of us and then proceeding to eat it all in one sitting, I make half a pound of pasta, a large salad and garlic bread. I also make sure when we have meat that we eat smaller portions of meat and more vegetables.

      That, coupled with walking for 45 minutes after dinner, has really helped us both.

      5 Replies
      1. re: SarahEats
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        Spencer RE: SarahEats Oct 16, 2006 09:33 PM

        Define please "really helped us both". I am particularly interested in what change(s) the 45 minutes walking has done for you.

        1. re: Spencer
          s
          SarahEats RE: Spencer Oct 16, 2006 10:17 PM

          Well for starters the walking helps us digest our food since we're active and not sedentary. We find we have less heartburn/that full feeling if we walk right after we eat.

          I also read an article recently (can't remember where) that said if you do moderate exercise (such as walking) after you eat you digest food better, keep your blood flowing better, etc. I figure it can't hurt.

          I've also noticed that my legs are more toned due to the walking, which is a nice perk.

          1. re: SarahEats
            s
            Spencer RE: SarahEats Oct 17, 2006 12:09 AM

            Sweet!
            I run for exercise and I can't imagine running after I eat. In fact, I have to have a small lunch just so I can run at 6 or 7pm. You might say I exercise so I can eat :)
            I may try what you do on my none run days and walk right after I eat my evening meal. Thanks for the tip.

            1. re: Spencer
              kare_raisu RE: Spencer Oct 17, 2006 02:54 PM

              I exercise so I can eat....well and not have to worry about it. An hour jog a day works wonders, havent gained a pound in years.

              1. re: Spencer
                s
                SarahEats RE: Spencer Oct 17, 2006 07:14 PM

                Ha! Exactly! We also exercise to eat. :)

                I wouldn't dream of doing strenuous exercise after eating so that's why I was so pleased to read that article about walking for 45 minutes after eating to help burn fat/calories and help aid digestion. We see a ton of people in our neighborhood walking after the dinner hour, presumably for the same reasons.

        2. r
          Ruby Louise RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 06:42 PM

          1.) Substituted non-stick pan spray whenever possible, using small amounts of olive oil only as needed.

          2.) Ditched regular pasta & flour tortillas for whole wheat pasta and whole wheat tortillas. Incorporated more grains like quinoa and couscous as side dishes.

          3.) Family already dislikes chicken skin and fatty cuts of meat, so I focused on leaner cuts of meat.

          4.) Substituted Splenda for sugar in my morning coffee.

          5.) Made non fat dairy my friend. Utilized non fat sour cream and non fat ricotta cheese to create a creamy texture when needed, instead of using butter, cream or full fat cheeses. Used larger amounts of fat free or low fat cheese (gasp!) for cheesy effect and small amounts of full fat cheese for flavor.

          6.) I devote lots of time to making sure my family has good food to eat, but I wasn’t giving myself that same respect. So, I’ve made a point of stocking the house with healthy, lower fat snacks for me, and taking time to make a healthy, interesting brown bag lunch for myself.

          7.) Bringing a salad and two pieces of fruit to work gets me over halfway to my goal of 5-7 fruits and vegetables per day.

          8.) Slowing down and taking time to explore the grocery store has helped me discover new-to-me foods. It’s easy to fall into a routine and just visit the same aisles.

          All of these tweaks and changes to my eating came about as a result of joining Weight Watchers and following the Core plan, which I view not as a diet but as a lifestyle eating approach. I felt like I was eating pretty healthy before, but realized there was room for improvement. Consequently, I did lose 30 pounds in 6 months, but I also feel more energetic, my stamina has improved, my skin is even better than before, my doctor got off my back and I have the joy of knowing that I’m exposing my husband and stepson to a healthy creative way of eating.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Ruby Louise
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            Smokey RE: Ruby Louise Oct 16, 2006 07:11 PM

            I also did WW (pre-Core) and have stuck with it for roughly 4.5 years (in which I've kept off 40 lbs.). Since I'm not doing Core (and I'm a veggie) many of your recs I haven't used. Our approaches are similar.

            I'm all about portion control. I actually never use fat free products (particularly things like FF cream cheese). What I do do, however, is only eat things that contain those products in moderation. I've completely switched (when practicable) to WW products. I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and drink loads of water everyday.

            1. re: Ruby Louise
              Hoosierland RE: Ruby Louise Oct 16, 2006 07:17 PM

              Great ideas, but I do have to add that couscous is like a pasta, and made from semolina flour, not a whole grain.

              1. re: Hoosierland
                pescatarian RE: Hoosierland Oct 16, 2006 07:27 PM

                except that you can also buy whole wheat couscous

              2. re: Ruby Louise
                v
                Val RE: Ruby Louise Oct 16, 2006 07:32 PM

                Wow, except for using splenda, I do everything you do pretty much. Also, when I bake, I will often use less sugar than what the recipe calls for; though I love and often recommend Epicurious recipes, some of their sugar quantities are just not necessary, like 3 cups of sugar in a quick bread...say WHAT?!?! But the only low-fat cheese I won't buy anymore is mozzarella; gotta be whole milk. And, eating dinner on a small sandwich plate also helps me so I agree on the portion control.

              3. h
                Hungry Celeste RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 06:47 PM

                Buy fresh, seasonal fruit every few days at the grocery or farmer's market...fruit feeds a sugar craving in a healthy fashion.

                1. a
                  Addisonchef RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 06:54 PM

                  A few things:

                  1. When sauteeing, use 2 tsp of oil. So many recipes call for 1-2 TBS. Totally unnecessary IMO.

                  2. I always used to have a main entree, starch, and veggie. Now instead of the starch, I substitute another veggie with the meal. So I usually have a salad and either a stirfry or steamed veggie with my main dish.

                  3. Ditto on the portion control. I'll plate things in the kitchen, and don't go back for seconds. I'll eat more veggies if I'm hungry, good for you and few calories and pack the rest of dinner for lunch.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Addisonchef
                    Melanie Wong RE: Addisonchef Oct 17, 2006 04:22 AM

                    You can get than down to 1 tsp. if you use nonstick. I'd also recommend actually measuring that spoonful and not just sloshing some in the pan. One of my friends started doing that and was amazed at how much excesss oil she'd been consuming thinking it was only a tablespoon or so when it was actually double or more.

                  2. c
                    cheryl_h RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 07:47 PM

                    We're eating more vegetarian meals, mostly for health. I'm learning more about pilafs, dals and other ethnic ways to cook non-meat meals. They're much lower in fat, higher in fiber and not as heavy as some of the meat and vegetable meals we were eating a few years ago.

                    1. ipsedixit RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 09:01 PM

                      Quality over quantity.

                      Portion control (i.e., eating less, but more richly)

                      1. Pei RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 09:12 PM

                        I find that if I'm very carful to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, I don't have as much room as I otherwise would have for carbs, meat, or junk food. As a direct result, fat and sugars are severely cut out of my diet when I eat this way.

                        The other thing I do is not eat 3 hours before bed, or some kind of practically calorie free food if I must.

                        That, plus getting 30 minutes of cardio several times a week, pretty much allows me to eat whatever I want whenever I want. Bacon, pork belly, cheese, cream, ribs, butter, etc...all things I am not willing to give up (but like others have said--quality over quantity).

                        1. z
                          zorgclyde RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 09:55 PM

                          I totally agree with quality over quantity.
                          I really do not believe in no-fat cooking spray and low-fat items, most of them have poor taste and people end up overcompensating because they aren't satisfied.
                          Use oil judiciously. I don't care what everyone else says, PAM is simply nasty. Propellent isn't and shouldn't be in food.
                          A touch of right fragrant oil (sesame, olive, walnut,etc) adds so much to the taste.
                          I also find having brothy soup before main course prevent overeating and also acts to open up the taste bud. Also, main course should have several different texture/color/variety.
                          I've ditched calorie counting, low fat product, etc. and just go with enjoyable but moderated eating, and I found out I've actually lost weight effortlessly. Not to mention now I don't overeat, and feel lighter and more awake during the day.

                          1. k
                            kevine RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 10:20 PM

                            I would say adding nuts as a hunger supressant has helped me a lot. Not too many, just a handful here or there will go a long way when I get the munchies during the day like mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
                            Cutting out all high-fructose syrup and trans-fat from my diet completely has also helped. Trans-fat is easier to detect than it used to be, at least outside of restaurants, but HFCS is much tougher since it has become so pervasive. I think just avoiding all prepared highly processed foods can go a long way though for both. Cook/prepare your own!
                            And also replacing most items made from flour with whole wheat and replacing white rice with brown rice. (i just can't seem to get along with whole wheat pasta, though, unless I make it at home ;-) )

                            1. Eat_Nopal RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 10:27 PM

                              Hi Sasha,

                              My wife is an M.S.R.D. (Master of Science in Nutrition & a Registered Dietician)... and I have a huge interest in Nutrition (earlier in life from an athletic competitive perspective & recently from a socio-anthropological perspective)... we have discussed nutrition for hours & read many books.

                              Here is are some of the most effective tricks for people who don't want to be on a diet but just want to look & feel their best:

                              > Starting your meals with Soups particularly thin broth, high vegetable low calorie ones will increase long term satiety substantially with low calorie impact

                              > Include some raw foods in every meal... can be veggies, can be fruit... the high fiber content means you will get immediately full

                              > Always have a good source of Soluble (versus Insoluble) fiber.... think legumes, avocado, fruits... it will do a couple of things: (1) It will expand in your stomach making you feel full. (2) Soluble fiber binds with fats... reducing the absorption.

                              > Reduce meats... Americans eat more than twice the amount of Animal flesh based proteins than needed. The proteins just end up being fat.

                              > Don't be afraid of fats! They keep us satietied longer & reduce the temptation for snacking on unhealthy foods.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                Melanie Wong RE: Eat_Nopal Oct 17, 2006 04:19 AM

                                It's very Cantonese to start the meal with a couple rice bowls full of thin broth made from boiling leftover bones and vegetables for 8+ hours. Now that it's cold and flu season, I am making more of a point of it. Here's a recent post where I introduced some fellow chows to this.
                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                              2. c
                                chicapea RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 10:32 PM

                                using broth to help cut down on the amt of fat used in some sauces. Often do this for pasta sauces. Use only a fraction of the amount of butter or oil called for in the recipe, but reserve a good cup or so of the starchy pasta cooking water, stir in a bit of good veggie bouillon and add to sauce just before tossing with pasta. I find this works esp. well for cutting down the oil in pesto like sauces.

                                also use evaporated milk or table cream for rose sauces instead of whipping cream.

                                1. h
                                  HillJ RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 10:57 PM

                                  When possible I substitute natural applesauce for oil when baking banana, pumpkin or other "sweet breads" plus I cut back on the sugar in a recipe and increase the spices
                                  I do subscribe to the super food list for maintaining health (avocados, blueberries, nuts)
                                  I only use lowfat to non fat dairy in recipes
                                  I poach or grill most fish, beef, poultry now and the idea of eating fried foods just doesn't appeal anymore

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: HillJ
                                    Eat_Nopal RE: HillJ Oct 16, 2006 11:16 PM

                                    Glad you mentioned that Hill... there have been some recent studies looking at some small groups of people with notable longevity & healthy statistics... they had many things in common - some not food related - but they all did consume very high quantities of Super Foods:

                                    > In Okinawa it was Sweet Potato (very little use of rice) & Seaweed

                                    > In Sicily it was Tomatoes & Pecorino-Romano (very high in essential Omega 3 fats)

                                    > Among the 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda, CA it was also tomatoes as well as celery

                                    A number of researchers in Mexico have proven the Anti-Diabetic properties of Nopal Cactus, Aloe Vera & Agave. The Nopal which was once considered a lowly peasant food is now a contemporary star among the middle & upper classes. In addition to its traditional preparations... almost every place that serves fresh smoothies & juices in Mexico serves some kind of Nopal beverage.... my favorite are the Pinapple-Nopal licuados.

                                    Nopal has even replaced Noni as the choice ingredient in all the wacky super elixirs that sell for obscene amounts.

                                    My great grandpa lived till a very active 90 something on a steady diet of Corn Tortillas, Beans, Nopal Salad, Fresco Cheese, homemade cigars & moonshine!

                                  2. The Engineer RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 11:13 PM

                                    Not how I cook, but how much. Portion control is the number one thing that changed how I look and feel. I got my info from WW like some other posters above. I much rather have a little olive oil in my food than some spray can stuff- and I rather have 2 or 3 slices of real salami than 5 or 6 of the fake stuff.

                                    A "big gulp" of Coke dosen't taste any better than an 8 oz can!

                                    1. amkirkland RE: sasha1 Oct 16, 2006 11:18 PM

                                      smaller plates, i.e. portion control.

                                      try to include a good size of green veggie in dinner.

                                      I also try snack so i don't get so hungry that I overeat.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: amkirkland
                                        Pei RE: amkirkland Oct 17, 2006 02:18 AM

                                        I told my friend about this thread, and she shared this story:

                                        She had just moved to the US, and she gained 30 lbs over a few months from eating all the junk food we have available here. Shocked by her weight, she started forcing herself to eat off a small plate. She picked the smallest plate in the kitchen, and only allowed herself to eat as much as would fit on it at any one meal. She lost twenty pounds in three months.

                                        Of course, she was 13, so her metabolism was probably a lot higher than it is now. But the advice is still sound. I think it's psychological. You feel more sated after eating off a very full small plate than you do after eating off a sparsely filled platter, even if the former actually has less food.

                                      2. p
                                        piccola RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 02:18 AM

                                        Most of my strategies have already been mentioned, but I'll toss in one more: I eat a bowl of miso soup before many meals. It fills me up for very few calories - and it's full of fermented goodness.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: piccola
                                          kare_raisu RE: piccola Oct 17, 2006 02:56 PM

                                          excellent tip

                                        2. jjb75 RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 04:02 AM

                                          Using as much organic as possible, eating lots of raw veggies throughout the day and at least one Granny Smith apple every day (less sugar than other apples).
                                          Lots of essential oils (Omegas 3, 6 & 9) from flax and borage. Lots of fiber.
                                          Replacing butter or margarine with Smart Balance or Earth Balance (same exact products)
                                          Replacing mayo with Veganaise
                                          No processed foods or refined sugars.
                                          Reduced simple carbs - especially wheat.
                                          But the most important is probably fiber.
                                          Take Probiotic supplement

                                          1. j
                                            jlgarret RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 04:24 AM

                                            This artical was in the NYTimes this past Wed.
                                            http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/11/din...
                                            I hope the link works.
                                            ------------------------------------
                                            DINING & WINE | October 11, 2006
                                            Seduced by Snacks? No, Not You
                                            By KIM SEVERSON
                                            According to Prof. Brian Wansink’s research, people make over 200 food decisions a day — and are outwitted at every turn.
                                            ------------------------------------
                                            This guy does good research and I think his findings are really easily applied.
                                            His findings show that our "I'm full" mechanism is very very sensitive to context. So pay attention to how your arrange your context and you may find yourself eating less without noticing it and without feeling less full.

                                            Basically:
                                            -Use smaller bowls/dishes/spoons/etc
                                            -Have fewer options at the table
                                            -Keep things in smaller packages (don't have a giant bag of chips laying around
                                            )-Don't eat in front of the tv (but we all knew that already)

                                            1. j
                                              jsaimd RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 05:46 AM

                                              When we subscribed to a community supported agriculture box that helped a lot. We prepay for a bunch of veggies and fruit and we have to use it or we feel guilty. It also tastes good.

                                              My other thoery is to get addicted to really high quality food, but expensive food. How does that help? Well, we started buying amazing ice cream (by the pint), and then the stuff you can get by the gallon started not tasting as great. Same happened with chocolate and many other things. But the nice stuff costs too much to buy a lot of and it is so rich, I only have a very small amount. I don't binge eat just because there are "free" things at work. Worked for me.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: jsaimd
                                                lemonfaire RE: jsaimd Oct 17, 2006 07:39 AM

                                                I second the expensive chocolate comment. Get yourself some luxurious dark chocolate and don't tell anyone else in the house about it. Enjoy your secret in peace and pace yourself accordingly.

                                                Two other tips:

                                                1) I'm anti-PAM and love oils, but sauteeing veggies in a little veggie broth can be a nice fix at times.

                                                2) Before you sit down to eat, map out exactly how much mileage you're hoping to get out of what you've made. How many people are you serving? Are you expecting leftovers? Measure everything out and package up leftovers in serving size containers before you take seconds.

                                                1. re: lemonfaire
                                                  c
                                                  Cinnamon RE: lemonfaire Oct 17, 2006 03:37 PM

                                                  LOL to the chocolate stash.

                                                  (Lindt has one bar - one of their high-cacao bars - that has only 13g carbs per serving.. and lovely rich - not harsh - taste.)

                                              2. a
                                                ashwood RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 06:57 AM

                                                I've always thought it was not so much about what you didn't eat, as what you *did* eat. lots of vegies and other plant life, for one. I found several good for you sort of things that i really liked- mainly oats(steel cut, not rolled) and beans(of all sorts). I eat quite a bit of those, which are excelent for you. granted, I use some stuff that might be considered 'unhealthy,' like pork fat in the beans and milk/butter in the oats, but the benifits balance it out if figure, and even so, I'm not going to let 'health' rule my life. If your tastebuds aren't healthy, you stomach won't be either.

                                                1. s
                                                  sheiladeedee RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 09:16 AM

                                                  Pre-plating in the kitchen and having either soup or salad at every dinner is what I am doing for my husband and I. Unfortunately, I get home from work late and go to bed early, so I end up makng a very basic meal - soup or salad, a sauteed chop or piece of fish, some sauteed or steamed vegetable - something that can be cooked in less than half an hour. No dessert. I save anything elaborate for weekends. The portion control - I'll buy a big piece of salmon and cut it into portions and freeze it, or freeze chicken tenders or breasts I buy on sale in individual portion sizes. If I get pork loin or beef I will cut it into portions that can be cooked quickly, and freeze. Each evening as I prepare dinner I'll take out the portions for the next day and put them in the refrigerator to thaw; they are ready to cook the next day, and there's no way then to cook or eat a larger portion than is healthy. Also, since I like red meat better than Mr. Deedee, I can thaw portions of chicken for him and a pork chop for me. I will usually cook up another portion of meat for my lunch the next day. I rely on vegetables like kale or spinach which can be sauteed in the pan drippings, or frozen vegetables, and on canned chicken broth for soup if I haven't made any. I usually don't cook starches for dinner, or have bread either.

                                                  Since I have started doing this kind of evening meal - low starches, portion controlled protein, lots of vegetables - we have both dropped some weight and my digestion is better. During the week, my breakfast is whole grains in some form (cereal or toast, with milk or yoghurt) and lunch is a big salad with protein. Eating like this during the week means I can indulge during the weekend, but often we end up eating fairly lightly anyway; we seem to have lost the taste for great big heavy meals.

                                                  1. k
                                                    Kagey RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 09:58 AM

                                                    Great suggestions here. I'd add that the change can begin with your shopping. Remember that it's a lot harder to eat what you don't have in the house. Mainly I stay away from cheap junk food. Never buy soda, highly processed foods, or white bread. Rarely buy chips or sweets. I try to load down the shopping basket with fruit and vegs instead, and to come up with innovative ways to use them (I own a lot of cookbooks!).

                                                    Other good tips I agree with:
                                                    * Don't eat a meal within two hours of bedtime.
                                                    * Serve portions. Put a reasonable serving on your plate and walk away. Save leftovers for tomorrow. This goes for ice cream too. Don't eat out of the carton!
                                                    * Pack a healthy lunch and snacks for work so that you don't get tempted to run out and buy chips or chocolate bars.
                                                    * Have a well-stocked pantry and use it. Cans of various beans and cans of tomatoes can provide the basis for lots of quick, healthy meals and snacks.
                                                    * Quality over quantity. Definitely. I also do the good chocolate thing mentioned by others. I just don't eat it all in one sitting!

                                                    1. l
                                                      laurajacob RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 12:31 PM

                                                      We stopped buying packaged foods. Except bread, we still buy bread. But everything else - we make potato chips from potatoes, our waffles from flour, etc. It means if you want something that's not healthy, it has to be a consious decision to eat it. The heathy stuff is way easier to prepare... If i want a snack it's easier to eat an apple or make some hummus than it is to fry something.

                                                      1. l
                                                        lisacs RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 02:30 PM

                                                        These are all great ideas. Some others:

                                                        --no seconds--as others have suggested, plate the entree and sides in the kitchen and then pace yourself.
                                                        --I've started making my own low-fat soups. Carrots and butternut squash make great, creamy soups with little or no fat and they take to all kinds of creative spicing.
                                                        --if you snack in the morning and/or afternoon, be sure the snack includes some protein. One of my favorites is a smallish apple cut into quarters and spread with a tablespoon of peanut butter. I find if I eat nuts, I like them too much to stop, but somehow the peanut butter and apple combo works. Others: a hardboiled egg with salt or mustard; a small amount of low-fat Jarlsberg and a couple of heavy-duty, whole-grain crackers; yogurt with a little homemade applesauce.

                                                        Finally, I am a good baker and a complete baked goods junkie, so I (1) don't buy commercial baked goods and (2) don't make cakes, tarts, cookies, pies, etc. unless we have company or we're taking it to someone's house and I can count on not having leftovers. If half a cake is sitting in our kitchen, I know I'm going to chisel away at it a couple of times a day. Better if it's just a one-time, one-serving treat every once in a while.

                                                        1. c
                                                          Cinnamon RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 03:36 PM

                                                          I've had success looking to add modest-calorie volume to recipes, as a result of reading the (really good) recipes in the book Volumetrics (a dietary approach by some chef/nutritionist).

                                                          So instead of regular tuna salad, I now skip mayo, add Italian white beans and red bell pepper, a little lemon and olive oil, a few other things and I've got a tasty large plate of something that has the same calories as a smaller, 'meh' tuna salad.

                                                          Other approaches would be, for instance in seafood paella, going heavier on the veggies and seafood than on the rice. Things like that.

                                                          That book I mentioned has some really good recipes (and I usually hate diet book recipes) - plus there are convincing 'before' and 'after' pictures of plates of food. She uses normal, healthy foods rather than frankengredients and doesn't suggest stupid things such as, "When hungry for apple pie, save calories by just having an apple instead."

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Cinnamon
                                                            a
                                                            Anne H RE: Cinnamon Dec 12, 2006 02:23 AM

                                                            I've also used this technique, doubling up on the veggies. In a stir fry, or whatever, twice as many veggies as usual, lets me eat more with the same amount of calories. Also, serving a second vegetable along with a big salad. I really like vegetables, so it is no hardship.

                                                            Recently I have discovered broiling red pepper strips instead of frying them, just a spritz of Pam, into the oven, very good taste, throw them into whatever I am making. I go through many red peppers a week, this is one of my favorite foods, so this could single-handedly keep some weight off... ;-)

                                                          2. h
                                                            Hunicsz RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 04:26 PM

                                                            This is a great thread. I agree with many of the suggestions, especially upping your intake of fruits and veggies. I aim for 7-9 servings, and it really does cut down on the "space" you have for other stuff.

                                                            Also, I try to serve myself smallish portions and wait at least 15 minutes after I finish before deciding if I want seconds. Normally I don't.

                                                            I also drink lots of water, particularly flavored mineral water. Sometime when I think I'm hungry I discover I'm actually just thirsty.

                                                            1. LAcupcake RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 05:33 PM

                                                              All the suggestions listed above are great and I use a lot of them. I've recently relocated to LA and everyone down here seems so beautiful and size conscious that I've begun to watch my calories more closely! In addition to the portion control, fruit/veggie, stock instead of oil ideas listed above, I also:

                                                              - eat cottage cheese with fruit for breakfast each morning (if i start the day eating well, i'm more likely to end it well)
                                                              - take a fiber supplement each morning (i do it for health reasons but it definitely helps keep me full until lunch)
                                                              - never take a doggie bag at restuarants (if i'm splurging on calorific meal, i don't need to do it two days in a row, even if i paid for all of it, it doesn't mean it's worth it in the long run)
                                                              - don't settle for mediocre treats (candy dishes at work, free cookie at the grocery store, etc)... spend your calories wisely!

                                                              1. k
                                                                kimxchris RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 05:50 PM

                                                                Some good strategies above. I don't diet, and I'm not even willing to change what I eat, but I feel I've done a lot of good for myself just cutting out the stupid stuff I used to do without thinking about it:

                                                                1) I never eat anything that's "left out" at work. There's a cake here for some reason or another just about every day. Like most rules, it's easier to follow this one strictly rather than allow exceptions.

                                                                2) Since I work in an office and lunch isn't fun for me anyway, I limit myself to healthy options (a few salads, sushi, turkey on lavash from an organic place). I don't allow myself to stray from this except for office-political reasons. Weekday lunch is my healthy meal; I don't restrict myself at other meals.

                                                                3) Nuts. I went from skipping breakfast to a handful of nuts and raisins. Before that, I was eating incredibly unhealthy at lunch.

                                                                4) Gum. After meals, I tend to want soda or something, but if I chew extra-minty gum, my mouth feels clean so I just drink water.

                                                                5) I still drink soda at work. I buy a 20 oz. bottle and keep it in the fridge and drink maybe 2-3 oz. a day. Mostly for the caffeine; I've never been a coffee drinker at work.

                                                                Like LACupcake says, it's all about spending calories wisely.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: kimxchris
                                                                  c
                                                                  cocoagirl RE: kimxchris Oct 17, 2006 06:32 PM

                                                                  the minty gum has helped signal the end of a meal (especially lunch) for years. It really takes my appetite away. Just today I was craving something before lunch and I put in a piece of gum-appetite goes away.

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                                                                  MalinDC RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 05:57 PM

                                                                  I have found the key to be to know what you are going to want and work with that. For example, I like to have a glass of wine while I make dinner and then one with dinner. I have started pouring myself two half glasses so that I can have them both without as many calories. Or, as it turns out, I love the option for seconds. So I almost never serve myself a full serving the first time so I know I have "permission" to go back for seconds. And the best days are the ones that I don't!

                                                                  Look at your eating habits and figure out what is important to you and then work around that.

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                                                                    niki rothman RE: sasha1 Oct 17, 2006 07:05 PM

                                                                    Upping the veg and downsizing the amount of fats. Both are easy. I make jambalaya type things all the time. In traditional southern cooking the ratio of veg to meats is low. I add probably 4 times the veg a recipe would call for. Something like a lentil soup will be half carrots onions and celery. I routinely take a scissors (easier than a knife) and remove fat from things like poultry thighs and steaks. And unless I am roasting a whole chicken and want crispy skin to eat, i remove the skin. Or if I'm making soup I always skim off the fat easily by laying paper towels on the surface or refrigetating overnight. When I watch the Food Network I am always kind of horrified at the amount of oil most of them use to saute or brown - a tablespoon is really sufficient. Both cutting out obvious fat and increasing the veg does nothing to decrease the flavor - you will enjoy the food just as much if not more.

                                                                    1. k
                                                                      Kagey RE: sasha1 Oct 18, 2006 08:15 AM

                                                                      Have you seen this? Very interesting stuff from the NY Times about why we eat as much as we do...Sorry if this is a repeat post!
                                                                      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/11/din...

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                                                                        niki rothman RE: sasha1 Oct 18, 2006 03:12 PM

                                                                        Yes, I read that NYT article and I agree with it. Portion size is so important - "big" and "small" are subjective. We have all become accustomed in recent to expecting portions that many years ago would have comfortably fed a family of four. Psychologically, plate and fork/spoon size make an amazing difference to me. Huge ones make you eat more, small ones make you want to eat less, and allow you not to feel guilty when you want to take seconds because your full amount consumed is probably less than that of the person using a huge plate.

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                                                                          piccola RE: sasha1 Dec 13, 2006 01:45 AM

                                                                          If there's anything I know I eat too much of, I just don't keep it in the house.

                                                                          Like ice cream, for example - it's too easy to finish a carton by eating a couple spoonfuls all day long, so I don't stock it. If I want ice cream, I'll buy a scoop at a parlor - the extra effort makes me think twice about how much I really want it.

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                                                                            Diana RE: sasha1 Dec 13, 2006 07:31 PM

                                                                            Eating a well balanced diet. Whole grain breads and rices and pastas only (whole grain carbs).

                                                                            using splenda in place of sugar.

                                                                            no fried food

                                                                            wieghing and measuring portion /serving size

                                                                            using smaller plates, spoons, forks and cups.

                                                                            eating small meals 5 times a day over 3 large ones.

                                                                            no food 3 hours before bed time on

                                                                            exercising a whole lot.

                                                                            lost 70 pounds, kept it off several years!

                                                                            1. u
                                                                              upstate girl RE: sasha1 Dec 13, 2006 07:52 PM

                                                                              I love this post and have found many of the suggestions helpful. Everyone is so different that it's good to hear what works for people. Like so many of us who love to cook and eat, we battle weight gain and must have a few tricks up our sleeves. Here are some of mine:
                                                                              1. It's all about sugar. If I cut sugar, I keep weight off, if I don't, I gain. Cutting fat doesn't do a whole lot for me.
                                                                              2. However, I do cut oil and butter out of things which will be covered in a sauce (e.g. cous-couse, rice) in efforts to be heart healthy. I find I don't miss it.
                                                                              3. Reduce processed food. We have completely switched to whole wheat pasta (which we eat a lot), whole wheat pizza dough, rice, and bread. The only time we eat regular is when we're out and there are no other options.
                                                                              4. Don't buy store bought cookies or other store bought desserts. I don't feel bad about a homemade cookie because I know there is no high fructose corn syrup in it. My husband in convinced that high fructose corn syrup is at the root of many health problems including a bulging belly (he doesn't have any scientific data, just one of his many theories!)
                                                                              5. Have low-fat, low-carb, whatever you're doing on hand. If I have healthier option on hand, I'll eat it. Period.

                                                                              Thanks for this post, it's timely with New Years resolutions just around the corner.

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                                                                                Anya L RE: sasha1 Dec 13, 2006 08:13 PM

                                                                                I also exercise so I can eat. I try to walk for about an hour each day. I find that doing a longer walk (2 hrs or so) once a week helps give me a boost.

                                                                                Here's how I eat:

                                                                                - Throw extra veggies into everything
                                                                                - Substitute whole wheat flour into muffins and breads where it makes sense (not so it ends up tasting too healthy)
                                                                                - Eat brown rice and whole wheat pasta most of the time (but without being rigid about it)
                                                                                - Reduce fats during cooking if it makes sense (e.g., saute in 1 tbsp butter instead of 2)
                                                                                - Don't waste calories on mediocre food (usually processed) or "lite" food - eat the good stuff

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                                                                                  svbooker RE: sasha1 Feb 14, 2007 06:30 AM

                                                                                  What a great thread...thank you! I have a non-food addition to these very helpful ideas. I read (actually listened to) the book You on a Diet a couple of months ago and, with humor, logic and scientific data, it scared me into transitioning from a diet that I knew was not healthy but simply couldn't change to almost effortlessly adopting a diet that closely resembles all of your suggestions. I've lost weight, feel better...all the good stuff.

                                                                                  Some people find the book hard to get through...a little too clinical...but knowing what happens at a cellular level turned me around in an instant!

                                                                                  1. q
                                                                                    Querencia RE: sasha1 Feb 14, 2007 06:50 AM

                                                                                    1) Serving meals family style (with serving dishes placed on table so you can freely help yourself to more) is an invitation to eating more than you intend. Prepare plates at the stove. Or put your entire meal on a tray and go somewhere else with it. 2) Lemon juice doesn't get enough credit---it can replace salt and fatty sauces and is a surprisingly good condiment. 3) Become aware that starches turn to sugar in the digestive process (white potato, rice, and flour do it faster, thus creating a peak in blood sugar). If your body receives a lot of sugar at once, it will prioritize by a) using first what it needs for energy b) then storing some in the liver for future energy c) finally, turning the rest into triglycerides (fat) and storing this fat, usually in the belly. So fasting all day and then eating a big dinner is a bad idea if you're trying to control your weight (and this is such an easy trap---coffee for breakfast, skip lunch because you're working or you're going to exercise, then, whammo, dinner: get out of my way, etc).

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                                                                                      msbo78 RE: sasha1 Feb 14, 2007 07:02 AM

                                                                                      Portion control is probably the biggest thing. Small plates for lunch and dinner, and when I eat ice cream (usually the reduced cal slow-churned) for dessert, I eat it out of a tiny little bowl (little Pyrex one, like a prep bowl) that is only big enough for one scoop.

                                                                                      I hardly eat "white" anything. Everything is whole grain. Bread, tortillas, pasta. I don't even like the taste of white bread anymore.

                                                                                      Soup, which has also been mentioned a lot, does a great job of filling me up with relatively few calories.

                                                                                      And to cook with, I almost always use nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron. I use Pam or olive oil in a Misto spray bottle. If you're weirded out by Pam, use a pump spray bottle (like Misto). It allows you to use much less oil. When I just pour oil in the pan, I always measure. I'm amazed at how much more I use when I don't measure it. I almost never use the full amount called for by a recipe.

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