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Mar 19, 2007 12:39 PM

Dieting Dilemmas

I need to lose some weight. No crisis situation facing me but the buck has to stop somewhere and my doc recommends a 40 pound weight loss.

I am facing some challenges that I'm having a hard time getting answers for:

- I stay hungry all of the time. I was that way even as a skinny kid, when I could eat whatever I wanted and could literally vacuum a table clean. Now, I can get up from a Chinese buffet at noon and hit another buffet at dinnertime, and this is when I am NOT dieting. When I diet, the hunger gets worse, almost unbearable. A dietician at work (I work at Johns Hopkins Hospital) says I'm not getting enough fiber in my diet. Eating fruit and veggies - three apples a day at least - isn't helping. What can I do to put more fiber in my diet or increase the feeling of satiation?

- I do not eat sweets. Bread is what does me in so far as dieting is concerned. Even switching to all-grain bread with lots of fiber, I find bread almost impossible to stay away from. How can I satisfy my need to get high on bread?

- Many references and friends advise drinking lots of water. I am one of those people who detests the "taste" of water. For most of my life, I have gotten most of my liquid intake from diet decaffeinated sodas - at least one 2 liter bottle per day (unsweetened, decaf iced tea during the summer) but I worry about sodium intake and the ingestion of artifical sweeteners in diste soda. What are some things to add to water to make it more palatable?

- I have had the most success with the Eades "Protein Power" diet but it is hard for me to stick with suggested portion sizes. It was practically impossible for me to stay away from bread, potatoes, pasta, beans long term.

I am trying to work on exercising more - it has always been like hard labor. No "runners high" here. Also, I am getting a fitness consultation from a wellness program here at work, but I would appreciate any feedback you guys might have.

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  1. Honestly, the hunger part gets better. If you are eating a healthy diet, healthy portions, exercising regularly. Your body will get used to eating less calories over time. I do find that eating small amounts every 2-3 hours, combining protein and carbs, helps. Try not to eat only 3 big meals. Water helps. See below.
    Combine a small portion of whole grain bread with a small amount of protein. You will feel more satiated.
    Water will help with the hunger as well. Often times thirst is mistaken as water. Have you tried putting lemon, lime, cucumber slices in your water? Practice makes perfect (in many areas), but I find that with water, the more you drink, the more you crave. So practice. It will make a huge difference if you drink at least 1 litre of water a day. I drink 1-2 litres usually.
    I am not familiar with Eades "Protein Powder", but generally anything like that will not work in the long run for the reason you state - sticking with it.
    My advice re the exercise, is commit to 10 min each day. The 10 min will not be 10 min, because as soon as you start doing something, it will last longer than you think. Even if you start with 20 min a day and add slowly, it is better than nothing.
    Try to find something you enjoy doing - swimming, biking, gardening. All the little tricks they talk about make a difference - take the stairs, instead of the escalator, park further away and walk, etc. I happen to have fallen in love with running, but it that's not for you, find something that does it for you. Mixing it up is good too. Seeing the results is good incentive to keep it up.
    I think I mentioned practice makes perfect already. I really find, in my case, it's true. Try, try again and eventually the habits stick.
    Oh, and try things in small increments. Trying to do too much, too soon, is a recipe for disaster, because it's not realistic. Make small changes. They add up over time.

    1. I can't speak to all points, but at least can for a few:

      Hungry all the time: First, make sure that you are more physically active. If you're not moving around some during the day, you will tend to get hungry about every two hours. It doesn't have to be strenuous exercise, but when you start feeling that "I'm starting to get hungry" edge (not the full blown I'm starving pains), get up and move. Go walk around the block, walk around the building, step outside, stand up and do some stretches. Anything to kind of jump-start your body. I find that this can distract me from hunger for an extra half hour. Hey - every minute counts.

      Snack a good bit. Grab a box of those pre-packaged 90 calorie cracker or cookie packs and have one of those with a piece of fruit, every two hours, if you have to. You'd only get a couple hundred calories, but I find that a variety of food together (peanut butter crackers and an apple) do me a lot better than just an apple. I'm one of those that fruit just never fills up. So snack often, but keep it smaller, controlled portions and make sure there's a satisfying variety of crunch with soft, salt with sweet, etc.

      I don't like water either, unless I'm working out. So I drink seltzer water. I like the fizz, it gets me my water, and I can add mint, lime, lemon, strawberries - whatever to it and I actually enjoy it. Just check it and make sure you're getting seltzer with no sodium.

      Portion size - if you really have issues with it, you might try doing some frozen dinners off and on for your evening meal. They're very low calories, very small portion sizes, and they can help kind of kick-start you into learning what portion sizes are appropriate.

      Exercise - find something you don't mind doing, and if you can, get an iPod or some kind of portable music to take along with you and play things that make you want to move your body. It's amazing how much better my workouts are when I have good tunes. You don't have to jog. Walk briskly instead. Take some private lessons for something you have always wanted to try - for example, I always wanted to learn how to kickbox, so I took private lessons and have added it to my workout and it rocks!

      Good luck! I'm sure others will have some other really good advice for you.

      1. I take juice that I really like and dilute it with plain sparkling water. Just a little bit flavors the water into something less plain.
        I also get satisfaction from crunchy things that have fiber, carrots- celery, Brocc etc. I really like to dip - thats my downfall with the healthy stuff so I've switched to rice wine vinegar
        Really though we need a certain amount of carbo's its what we put on them thats bad.
        I find when I'm dieting if I compeletly deny myself I have about 0 success so I start my meal with a huge salad( dressing is the issue here, none or I make my own) -. Then I have a really small portion of something I really enjoy. Then I fill the void with blanched veggies. I always try to make sure I serve one thing that I can eat enough of to satiate my appetite without it being a caloric disaster. Like I'll have a 6 bite portion of pasta and a heaping pile of veggies almost dry - just a smidge of olive oil and garlic, S and P. I let myself eat a lot of the veggies but not the pasta ... I feel full and my mind got its pleasure too.

        1. As far as being hungry all the time, I found I had success munching not just on apples and fruit, but on veggies like celery and carrots. They don't have the sugar of an apple, and with celery, you can literally eat all you want since (supposedly) the calories in celery are burned from the action of eating it. It's not fun or tasty, but it works. You can also try fiber drinks, but I have no personal experience with those.

          If you dislike the taste of water, you can always add a bit of lemon or lime to it to create a different taste. Water does indeed help you feel full and may help you lose weight. The body tends to hoard water when it's not receiving enough, so something like soda, even if it's diet, may be keeping that water weight on as it dehydrates you.

          You don't need to stay away from ANY food, as long as you control those portions, which is always the hardest part, and certain toppings/sauces.

          Exercise is difficult at the beginning of the dieting process. The key is to not overextend yourself and possibly cause a lingering injury (I had shin splints) that would adversely affect your efforts. Take the long term approach and you'll be better for it. Look up a calorie calculator to see how much you need in a day, then find an activity calculator and see how many calories you're burning during a variety of activities. Calorie counting isn't fun, but it helped me drop over 60 lbs over the last year.

          1. I recommend the flavored seltzer waters as well - look for zero sodium, zero calories. You need to limit your sodas to 2 12 oz diet sodas a day. This is coming from a person who lost 120 pounds. You need to eat 5-6 times a day and get exercise. Best of luck to you.