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A chowhound worst nightmare...I have to go on a diet!

We just got back from vacation and ugh, I knew it was coming...the dreaded need to knock off some pounds...what's a poor chowhound to do?

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  1. I've done Weight Watchers on and off over the years and it really is the best diet program out there. It's realistic and focuses on longterm changes versus quick fixes. You have flex points so you can eat a little something fun each day or save up for a big Saturday night out.

    1. Gotta exercise. Once you get into a regular routine and lose the current unwanted pounds, you can eat well and stay in shape.

      1. See the two principals of dieting, in the comments to this: http://www.chow.com/grinder/2349

        Anything will work, if you commit yourself to it.

        1. I've read you get 80% of the pleasure of eating in the first 10% of a serving. Really relish that 10%, make it the best food you can, then eat a lot of healthful, low calories food (roasted vegetables, soups, salads, etc.--volumetrics). If you still want, have another 10% but you'll probably be too full for it. Make that 10% as chowhoundish as you can--you're having less so you can afford to buy better quality and splurge on all the ingredients. Oh, and learn what a serving it. A serving of steak is the palm of your hand, not a huge T bone that's served...

          1. Exercise, drink lots of water, eat more lean protein and fruits/vegetables (but limit potatoes and other starchy veggies), and cut down the processed and refined foods.

            Don't deny yourself anything (big proclamations about how you're never going to have chocolate/cake/etc. again), but make your big splurges a treat to be had for special occasions or in moderation (like a couple squares of dark chocolate).

            1. Portion control is everything! You can have all ther chowish foods in the world if you limit yourself to small tastes and fill up on fresh fruit and veggies. Exercise makes a big difference too.

              1. OK - I know I disagree with the majority here.. but when I am on a diet, I want to be on a diet and I want it to work and I want it to be temporary ... so... Eat eggs, low fat meat (chicken breasts are preferable) and fish. Eat no more than 3 c. of raw low-carb salad veggies a day or 2 c. salad plus 1/2 c. cooked low-carb veggies. (1 c. cooked total if you hate salad). Don't restrict your portions, but don't force yourself to eat if you are not hungry. After you do this for 2 to 3 days, you will not be hungry, and will be at very low calorie, and THATS OK! Seasonings are good, but fat is not your friend. Grill your chicken breasts with Tony Chachere's or adobo seasoning. Use a tiny amount of dressing on your salad. Drink water, diet soda, coffee (cream/artificial sweeteners if you must, but black is better, and be aware of the fat & calories in the lightener), herbal tea. Take a multivitamin every day (one-a-day/centrum are fine. nothing fancy necessary). NO ALCOHOL. Yes, it's boring. Yes, it is utterly un-chowish. But it works. It usually takes 2-3 weeks to lose 10 real pounds - less time for more fat loss if you are heavy, but it doesn't sound like the case with the OP (plus 3-5 pounds of water and glycogen stores, which you will gain back when you go off the diet. Expect this!)
                I usually do 10 real pounds at a time. At my weight, this takes me 2-3 weeks. Then I usually get utterly sick of boring food. (I am a 'hound after all!) Or I run up against TOM. The real key is to MAINTAIN when you are not losing, not gain! The trick to that is to eat what sounds good when you are hungry and stop when you are full. This is actually harder than the diet itself...

                1. I feel for you. Thankfully you're only talking about vacation weight. I woke up one day and realized I had about 10 years of vacations to lose! I finally had to stop eating out for nearly 9 months. It was the only way I could control myself. Lost 55 pounds that way and eating Lean Cuisines every night. Sad, but true. Talk about being a non-chowhound :-(

                  1. All the above are good suggestions, and yes exercise is incredibly helpful. Here are my two cents...

                    If you're looking for a "diet," i.e. something temporary to lose weight, you can opt to decide what foods are the mainstay of your diet now and look to a diet that incorporates those primarily. If you're a major carnivore, try Atkins or South Beach (although South Beach in my opinion requires more vigilance and paranoia over eating "correct combos").

                    If you find veggies satisfying, Weight Watchers is great because veggies are zero points, and the diet really isn't a diet but more a way of life and allows all food, but if you're not up for portion control or tracking your points, the diet is more focus intensive. Of course, there is the "core program" that allows you to eat certain foods in unlimited (of course there's a caveat to unlimited but ok) quantities and give you a certain number of "bank" points for treats over the week.

                    Then, you have the "Emme" diet, which just includes eating low-fat, low carb, high protein, and the weight falls off. I have some mainstay meals that I cycle through and that keep me very palate-ally satisfied. Egg whites omelettes w/ eggplant, sundried tomatoes, basil. Miso egg drop soup w/ greens (collards, kale, mustard), garlic, asparagus, wild mushrooms. Seared ahi w/ grilled veggies in garlic salt. Oatmeal pancakes (egg whites and oats), sweet or savory. Crepes made from egg whites, filled w/ splenda sweetened fat free cottage cheese and sugar free TJ's preserves. Fat free cottage cheese w/ salsa. Fat free cottage cheese mixed w/ splenda, cinnamon, vanilla, and a little barley or brown rice, heated. Halibut in parchment w/ lemon juice, garlic, onions, carrots, fennel, and a little white wine. Chopped chicken salad w/ poached or roasted chicken, garlic grilled and chopped eggplant, hearts of palm, chopped tomatoes, and a few garbanzos. Shirataki noodles stirfried in Bragg's aminos, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice w/ grilled veggies in garlic salt, and some chicken, egg whites, or tofu stirred in. Total yogurt w/ a little splenda and high fiber cereal mixed in. Sorbet made in my juicer from frozen berries or melon. Protein shakes are very filling using the Metrx RTD shakes as a base, add in another scoop of protein (if desired) and some frozen berries. Great night snack or breakfast. There are more, but I won't bore you now :-)

                    1. No, do not despair! This is a supreme challenge to your creativity, and to your ability to stretch your culinary appreciation skills in a new direction!

                      Can you cook lighter dishes, and appreciate them? I don't mean "fake food", I mean can you thrill to doing a wonderful soup with fresh vegetables and well-made stock instead of meat and heavy cream? Can you explore what various cultures do that's light but filling? (I just now calmed my taste buds down after a big bowl of red-hot Korean tofu soup - and even my doctor recommended kimchi for a snack, you can have all of it you want)

                      If you're doing it right, you get (hold onto your hat...) SIX MEALS A DAY! Small ones (like half a tuna sandwich), sure, but make 'em exciting with a variety of flavors and styles, and please no one but yourself! Pace yourself, and make sure you get all six (right up to the late-evening snack that used to be a pigout because you get so hungry that late)

                      No "diet shakes," no "tofu bread", no "veggie burgers," real chowhound food, but less at a time, and more often. Take that mandate and stretch! Explore! Experience!

                      1. Dieting, what a drag. I, myself had a similar experience of waking up and realizing somehow my weight had gotten out of control. I decided to nip it in the bud and have lost 45 lbs in the last year.
                        Initially, rather than eliminating tons of foods from my diet, I restricted my calorie intake. This may not seem like a balanced approach, but once you realize induging in something overly decadent means you cannot eat the rest of the day, you go for healthier choices. Doing that alone, I quickly lost 15 lbs. I then incorporated exercise, starting with 3 miles a day on my bike and working my way up to 12. Did this for several months until I got kind of bored with it. Something else that is helpful is wearing a pedometer and making sure you are getting in at least 10,000 steps each day.
                        Now that I have met my weight loss goals and surpassed them by 20lbs it is just a matter of maintenance. I am more active in general now, but I also workout every morning(420 ab exercises, free weights for arms, and a few miles on the treadmill). As far as my diet, during the day I eat light, typically just fruit, yogurt, and veggies. At dinner I can eat pretty much whatever I want because I do eat healthily during the day, but in general don't make anything too out of control on a regular basis.
                        It is amazing how your metabolism picks up just by adding a bit of exercise. I have not gained back a pound and it is now much more a lifestyle than a diet. I now have the opposite problem where my fiancee wants me to put on a few pounds, haha.
                        I am sure you will have no problem losing the weight if you are committed.

                        1. All good suggestions, thanks.

                          1. You can still enjoy food and lose weight. I had to lose weight, and due to other health concerns, the South Beach was best for me. Worked like a charm for me- lost weight, lowered BP, lowered Cholesterol and was able to get my sugar levels to a normal state- so no insulin needed (YEAH).
                            My mother lost weight on WW and loved the diet. She joined on line- and I had a blast using their website to design meals for her. You can input recipes and get the point values. WAs able to create menus and had fun, too.

                            1. I am currently trying to obsess over lower calorie food. My box of Texas red grapefruits just arrived yesterday, and I am trying to convince myself that I cannot WAIT to get home and eat one for dessert every night.

                              I think that's one reason it's so much easier to be skinny in the summertime...because there are so many fabulous fruits and vegetables to think about, it takes my mind off making chocolate bread and popovers and scones and hot chocolate and pizza.......

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: danna

                                Too funny=- I had some unbelievable red grapefruit last week. I was so surprised that I actually wanted to eat it. Bought it at the farm where I get all of my produce- no idea where they got if ( not local, that's for sure, as we are in the Boston area!). Of course, the same p lace also sells wonderful scones- which I also enjoyed!
                                Went back this weekend, and they only had the pink grapefruit- it is ok, but I really loved the red.

                                1. re: macca

                                  Macca- I buy red grapefruit @ Shaws downtown.

                                  1. re: BostonBarGuy

                                    Don't like the produce at the shaws near me-. I make a weekly trek to Wilson Farm in Lexington for my fruits and vegetables. Now I am spoiled and cannot buy my produce at grocery stores!
                                    This red grapefruit was almost blood red- and so sweet.I had never seen one as red as this! Next time I am at Wilsons, I am going to ask where they came from.

                                    1. re: macca

                                      If you don't mind a bit more of a drive go to Idlywilde in Acton:


                                      1. re: hummingbird

                                        Looks a lot like Wilson Farms in Lexington- from the building to the meats, bakery and cheese. Thanks for the tip, but Wilson is more convenient for me- I live in Melrose.

                              2. This chowhound would go to Hermien Lee.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Bite Me

                                  Funny, my mom and I both worked with Hermiene years back for opposite reasons... The only issue I took with her is that she told me I should "get to like" certain low-cal foods, and I just looked at her like "why bother" (esp. cause I was trying to gain weight), though her method is based upon exercise, portions, and getting the most bang for your buck w/ food i.e. if you eat low cal foods, you get to eat more of them. Her program for weight loss if I remember my mom's correctly was 8 servings of protein (8 oz), 3 fruits, 2 breads, 3 veggies, and 2 fats per day. She was also crazy about her exercise... she used to walk the stairs in her building several times, up and down 12 stories... tiny cute little woman that always had frozen strawberries out when I was there.... (wanted me to get to like them even though I was also allergic and didn't care for them...)

                                2. I discovered Chowhound at about the same time I started Weight Watchers. I've lost and kept off over 50 lbs in very tasty fashion. Good luck!

                                  1. This Volumetrics Eating Plan book is the best... I was so skeptical but this woman, a nutritionist, has really really really good recipes for how to make big plates of things that taste yummy (with no frankenfoods) and are the caloric equivalent of much tinier regular items. Her tuna salad is my favorite ever... she adds white beans, some red peppers I think, olive oil and lemon and things.

                                    The pics at this link can give you a little idea.

                                    What she doesn't do is say 'instead of apple pie, have an apple' ... though she might give you a recipe for a baked apple tart that's low on crust. Did I mention the recipes actually taste good? She's chowish is what I'm trying to say.