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To Diet or Not to Diet...?

It seems like diet mania is all around me. Or, at the very least, people have certain attitudes on what is healthy and what they "should" or "should not" be eating. People use terms like "that is very bad" or "I was very naughty today" and it's been driving me crazy.

I've decided to throw it all out the window and just eat whatever I feel like eating when I get hungry. Now, I'm not talking about gorging myself but I'm trying to get into a mindset where I eat exactly what I want in exactly the right amount. For example, if I'm craving a couple of fried chicken wings, why eat cottage cheese instead because it's healthy?

Is there a sane way to approach eating in this diet-obsessed time?

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  1. I am very much anti-diet and don't believe in any forbidden foods. For me the key is to onl eat when hungry, eat food I truly enjoy and want and maintain small portions. I also try to make extra good choices if I know a meal that day is going to be exceptionally indulgent.

    1. Do you mean a sane approach to dieting or to eating in general?

      As far as dieting goes, my husband and I have been doing weight watchers for 5 weeks now. I find it very sane, and very workable. We are following their points plan, which gives each food a value based on fat/calories/fiber. Each item you eat is subtracted from your daily points allotment. There is nothing you cannot eat - so you don't feel deprived - and I have not found myself to be "starving." The focus is on living your life - but making better food choices - this past weekend when we visited family I decided not to track my points, just to eat as I wished. I didn't go crazy, but I relaxed and enjoyed things. I still lost almost 2 pounds last week. I didn't feel guilty or "naughty" and I went back to tracking my food monday morning. (We've each lost almost 20 lbs since we started!)

      Even before we started weight watchers, I tried to focus on balance. Don't eat TOO much of one thing or another and keep in mind that when they say that something causes cancer it is usally based on a study where they force fed some poor lab animal HUGE amounts of that particular food. More that you would normally consume in a balanced diet.

      Just my 2 cents. :)

      3 Replies
      1. re: jujuthomas

        I agree that ww seems to be a very sensible plan as it doesn't deny you anything and forces yout simply pay attention to what you're eating.
        That said 20lbs sounds like an awful lot to lose in 5 weeks, so I do hope you make sure you truly are staying healthy and using all of the points allotted to you : )

        1. re: hyacinthgirl

          Thank you for your concern. :)
          Things did slow down, and after 3 years I've lost 97lbs. I am in my 4th month of maintenance and feeling SO healthy. (notice my post was in 2007!)
          ww taught me portion control, and a better balance of meat/carbs/veggies on my plate.

          1. re: jujuthomas

            Oh ha! I didnt even see this was an old thread. Congratulations! That"s such a tremendous accomplishment, you should be exceptionally proud : )

      2. Do I diet? No. Do I deprive myself of things I want? Yes. I know how much food I need to eat to maintain my weight, and I know how to feed my body when it's hungry. And sometimes I really want something (a second doughnut, a piece of the Easter candy sitting on the counter) when it's not something my body wants or needs. And then I do my utmost to not eat it.

        I am constantly choosing to say "no" because saying "yes" all the time would be disastrous. So when it really is time to eat, I make whatever I'm going to eat as delicious as I possibly can, and make it as healthy as I can as well. When I eat well, I've got the room in my diet for that occasional glass of wine, cookie, etc.

        1. I think you've got the right idea. If you crave a cheeseburger, eat one. Ditto for cookies. Of course, if you crave deep-fried twinkies all the time you might be out of luck.

          What's interesting to me is how all these diets emphasize denying yourself, and very rarely stress the importance of exercise. When you see those commercials on TV, just try to read the small print at the bottom of the screen. I especially laugh at Subway's commercials. Jared sits there and talks about how he lost so much weight, and at the bottom of the sreen it says something to the effect of "Subway can be a part of a healthy diet along with exercise." He didn't just eat Subway. He worked out regularly and ate other foods as well.

          6 Replies
          1. re: mojoeater

            The Subway diet is based on only eating a 6 inch sub chosen from the 7 or so "6 grams of fat or less" list, one each for lunch and dinner. He also supposedly walked from his house to the Subway for each meal. That would make anyone who's 300 lbs lose weight.

            1. re: MeAndroo

              If he lived 5 miles from Subway and walked back and forth twice a day, I'd believe it. If it was one mile, not so much.

              1. re: mojoeater

                You have to consider how little a person exercises/how many calories they consume to get to be 300 lbs. Eating 1400 or so calories and walking 2 miles a day would definitely make someone that big lose weight. How long it takes is another story. You'll also notice that while he's thinner, he's by no means thin.

                1. re: mojoeater

                  That's extremely short sighted. You don't know what his caloric equilibrium was beforehand. For the sake of argument, suppose he consumed 2000 Kcal a day and was at a true equilibrium, he wasn't gaining mass but he wasn't losing mass either. Now suppose he's consuming only 1400Kcal a day *and* walking 2 miles a day. Just as a WAG let's call that 200 Kcal (I'm not going to bother looking it up, I'm betting that's in the ballpark). He's now working on a 800Kcal per day caloric deficit over his previously established BMR. At least until the body adjusts, that'd be roughly 4-5 pounds of body mass a week he'd expect to lose.

                2. re: MeAndroo

                  OK- he lived virtually directly upstairs from Subway and walked to classes/work in Bloomington IN which is a very walkable town- I got away without a car for 2 years when going to school there.

                  1. re: MeAndroo

                    There's a reason why most studies that are tryign to demonstrate some sort of fat reduction always try to use obese participants - pretty much anything will cause them to lose body mass.

                3. Remember the old joke.

                  "I'm on two diets, i did not get enough food on one."

                  We all know our bodies and how they change over time. And yes if you are on this site you like food. So there's a tradeoff. I am fortunate that my motabolism is pretty high. Mrs Jfood tells me all the time I should weigh 300 pounds and 30 years after graduating college I am only 15 pounds heavier that my "fighting" weight.

                  Do I diet? No i moderate and exercise. If I have a bigger than normal lunch (usually with a client) I cut back on dinner (nothing wrong with a bowl of honeydew). I love fruit and will eat that instead of my normal 5 scoops of ice cream while watching Sanjaya (makes me loose my appetite anyway). If I have my normal salad or grilled chicken sandwich for lunch, I'll eat a bigger dinner. And I try to hit the elliptical at least 4 times per week and sweat it out as well.

                  But some people like rules and regulations and if WW, Zone, Atkins or anything else makes you feel better, than it is good for you. Yes I went on Atkins once and lost 10 pounds in 10 days. Eating cheese eggs and meat 24/7 is fun for a while but even that regimen gets pretty old, pretty fast.

                  But remember you have one body, one heart, one liver. Take care of them. I shake my head when i hear that Tom has Type2 Diabetes and he is only 35. What a shame. Hello, he weighs 300 pounds, has a history of diabetes in his family and his idea of exercise is switching channels on the remote.

                  So it's not about the weight, it's about your health. Instead of being diet-obsessed, we should be health-obsessed.

                  Good luck to all on their eating and exercise regimen.

                  1. Well, a lot of it depends on what your goals are.

                    However, I think a key point is to only eat what satisfies you.

                    I am dieting. Coming along OK. The thing I have had to learn is that simply because I open a can of soup doesn't mean I have to treat all of it as a single portion (it usually isn't anyway) or that when I make a sandwich, I can use one piece of bread instead of two.

                    1. I think it depends on if you are trying to lose weight, or just maintain a healthy weight.

                      I joined Weight Watches a couple of weeks ago, because I actually need to lose weight. There's no "feeling naughty" about what I eat, I'm just learning to have more control in my diet. I'm learning what normal portions should be.
                      But under regular circumstances, I think eating what you want, is moderate amounts, in the right approach.

                      1. I don't think it's a diet obsessed time. I think it's junk food obsessed. We wouldn't have to diet if there wasn't all this garbage to eat all the time. If you are craving chicken wings, why eat cottage cheese? Because the cottage cheese is less calories, provides a similar nutritional benefit (protein) and doesn't contain high levels of saturated fat, salt, and possibly sugar, which can lead to an insulin spike and fat gain. If you don't care, then eat the chicken wings.

                        Eating whenever you are hungry makes some sense because you have less insulin spikage and higher metabolism if you eat 5-6 smaller meals spread evenly throughout the day, rather than 2 or 3 big meals.

                        Why bother at all? Well I've found that since I changed my entire lifestyle to a healthier one focused more on whole, nutritionally dense foods, I've had a lot more energy, felt better bodily, lost weight (and kept it off) and have been generally healthier (went two years without a cold, used to get "sick" every winter). Those are just my reasons, but those benefits far, far outweigh any perceived benefit I get from eating pizza, candy bars, and the like.

                        1. Moderation.

                          I believe in eating whatever you want. But, only in moderation.

                          Never deprive yourself.

                          Life is too short ... and precious.

                          1. I just eat whatever I want within reason and try to exercise 3-4 times each week to stay toned. I refuse to give up tasty treats like icecream just to be thin. Life is too short to not enjoy treats.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pamelaach

                              I agree with ipsedixit and pamelaach. Sometimes, you have a craving for a certain something -a cheeseburger, a brownie, or ice cream. I've found that if I try to eat "something better for me" instead -celery and carrot sticks, jello, etc.- that I end up eating the "better" thing, and then breaking down and eating the "bad for me" food as well.
                              So I try to moderate the "bad" stuff - have the burger but get a salad or fruit instead of fries, have one, maybe two brownies, eating them slowly, instead of wolfing down six, have a single serving of ice cream (scoop it into a small bowl and put the carton away instead of taking the whole carton and a spoon and sitting down with it). If I eat in moderation this way, and I get some sort of exercise, I find that I'm much happier because I don't feel deprived. Additionally, because I'm not on a diet per se, I'm spending less time focussing on how much of what and how many calories I'm eating and more time concentrating on other things that life has to offer.
                              I have the advantage of not being diabetic and not being allergic to anything, so grams of sugar per serving is not an issue, and since I am almost 50, if I do eat too many "bad" things and not enough "good" things, I pay for it in more ways than gaining weight (let's just say that at my age, your digestion becomes an issue in more ways than when you were 20).
                              So good luck to you. Enjoy your life!

                            2. A sane approach for you is INsane to someone else. There are plenty of people out there who either can't or don't control their eating for a variety of reasons, so sometimes across-the-board deprivation is the only sure solution. I find this especially true with soda junkies (I work in IT), people who will have a liter of cola plus a couple of energy drinks EACH DAY. They have it when they want and in the quantity they want and it's probably killing them. The safest way to keep them from binging on this kind of sugary caffeine is to get them to drink something else entirely.

                              I find myself saying "I ate bad today" or things of that nature, but only if I'm really bad. Like Ultimate Cheeseburger combo bad.

                              1. "Eat whatever you want in moderation" is easier said than done. Sometimes you need some structured plan to re-program your body in order to get to the point that you hear your body signals. There is a reason 300lb.+ people get to that weight - something has gone wrong in their bodies and their brains don't get the satiety signals like normal-weight people do - I can't even imagine eating myself to double-size.

                                I agree with jfood - diet and exercise should be for the health sake not the weight sake. Even some cancers are linked to obesity.

                                1. With the huge amount and variety of food we have available now, I think that it is impossible to just eat everything you want (unless you are one of those “eat to live” folks.) BUT I certainly think it is possible to eat healthy, balanced and still enjoyable meals. I am lucky in that I like a huge variety of foods (unlike some friends who are total meat and potato eaters) but I still went on Weight Watchers awhile back to lose 15 lbs I had gained after meeting my husband, the amazing cook. A couple of pounds a year doesn’t seem like much at the time, but I wasn’t happy with the “new me.” Jack claimed not to even notice the difference at the time, and perhaps it was true, but he definitely enjoys the thinner me now that he has her! I found Weight Watchers points system very helpful – I have to admit, I only went to one class, but I tracked my points diligently for about 3 months. It taught me to think about how much I really want that bread and butter or dessert, and also about how MUCH I really need to eat to feel sated. I still eat everything I used to eat, even have a glass of wine w/ dinner almost every night. There are just some things I eat much less often, and/or in smaller amounts. I don’t feel at all deprived; just more aware.

                                  The other factor is exercise. I swim 5-7 hours a week and actually find myself craving the exercise, something I never thought would happen. And the times when I am not really in the mood, I just think about that glass of sparkling wine I’ll “earn.”

                                  As far as the chicken wings/cottage cheese thing, I don’t know if cottage cheese is necessarily the most diet-conscious thing anyway; plus, if you are craving crispy and spicy, why try to satisfy the craving w/ somewhat bland and creamy? I would suggest trying to think of something “better” that you enjoy and will satisfy the craving. (A spicy veggie stir-fry would probably work for me.) Or just have some, but in moderation. In WW program, a chicken wing was 3 points. For 3 points I can have a glass of wine. Maybe I will have one chicken wing on occasion, but there’s just too much other stuff I’d prefer to “spend” those calories on for me to eat a dozen.

                                  1. I would rather walk to China, than give up a good bowl of noodles.

                                    1. Yes, there is a sane way: moderation, balance, exercise, and an understanding of good eating habits. For some people this comes naturally or from their upbringing; for others, like myself, it's a behavorial change that needs to be learned. Like some other posters here, my education came from the Weight Watcher's program. WW, which bills itself not as a diet but as a behavior modification program (an accurate description), is about learning how to eat in a sane way.

                                      No foods are forbidden, but what you learn is the "cost" of those foods and how a calorie-expensive lunch can be balanced with a lighter dinner, for example. You also get a good dose of balance info so you get a decent mix of nutrients over the course of a day and an education in the hidden costs of processed foods.

                                      When I was younger and immortal, none of this mattered much, and as I aged (and natural exercise decreased - less sports, less dancing, etc.) my younger eating habits resulted - no surprise - in significant weight gain. I reached my goal in WW about 2 years ago (lost over 60 pounds) and have been maintaining since then by basically sticking to WW during the week and indulging on the weekends (coupled with regular exercise, which I've learned to enjoy and actually look forward to). I haven't given up any of the foods I love - I just eat less of them, and I know that I can indulge myself without guilt because I know how to compensate.

                                      Like I said, there are people who live this way as a matter of course - and kudos to them! For me, WW was a life-changing experience that has helped make my eating healther, tastier (more fresh fruits and vegetables), and surprisingly more satisfying.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Striver

                                        Striver! You're exactly right! I was reading this thread and as I was reading each comment, I was thinking exactly everything you have said here. I too am a Weight Watcher Lifetime Member! I lost 20lbs. not so much to a lot of people but it was still a life changing event for me as well. I still had the same results as you. A total change of lifestyle and eating habits. I am a exercise guru now to all my friends, and I'm also known as the "foodie" at the same time. I eat good food, but not so much of it, I exercise regularly and eat healthy and many organic items. Overall, it's about living longer and healthier and therefore a more satisfying life. I still dance, I still have fun and laugh and enjoy great restaurants with friends, while staying in shape. I'm going on a cruise in May to Mexico and I will be Bikini Ready! Old Navy has the cutest ones, I'm going next week to pick up a couple! Bon Vonyage and good luck to staying in shape and young and fit! I'm 43 years old!

                                      2. It's really a very individual thing, based on your body size, history of putting on weight or losing it...what you can live with....A "diet" that is only for a specific time will always result in weight loss, but when you drop it altogether, you will gain it back...Those of us that have always struggled off and on with our weight, simply have to find a way to eat that we can maintain it...I, myself, eat low carb about 90 percent of the time, and about three times a month for "a meal", eat whatever I want..I do not gorge, but neither do I always deprive myself of carb foods...If I am having dinner out with friends, I choose beforehand whether I will eat Mexican food, etc....This has worked for me...On just a daily basis though, I eat low carb...You almost just have to find what it is that you can live with....

                                        1. I dieted for years, and since I have an all-or-nothing approach to most things, I'd follow a super-restrictive diet for a few months and lose lots of weight, then go back to my earlier habits and put it all back on.

                                          About two years ago, I had an epiphany, started eating with a focus on portion awareness, not restriction, and lost about 45 pounds (I'd just had my second baby, and had about 20 baby pounds left).

                                          I typically eat healthy foods because I like to eat lots, but I don't eliminate anything. I still have several weight-loss focused friends who diet like fiends, and they are having no luck losing weight, and they're doing some of the same things I tried over and over.

                                          I hope I've reached a balance that I can maintain, especially for my kids' sake.

                                          1. I always go with the cravings. It's usually the body's way of telling you that you need it. Yeah, being originally from LA, and then now NYC, I've always been surrounded by diet people, bulimic and ano people. I just ignore and eat what I want. That's not to say I eat everything and crap all the time. It's always eat in moderation, splurge occasionally (fried chicken, berkshire pork belly, and fois gras) and exercise. Once you have a balance established you'll find that losing or maintaining weight is really easy.

                                            1. Too many people equate diet with deprivation and it just doesn't have to be like that. A diet could easily be seen as "re-grouping" your mind and tastes to learn to enjoy healthier foods. Anyone can develop the taste for good eating, but you need to re-train yourself if you have subsisted on junk food and processed stuff for years. We aren't born loving vegetables, fruits and whole grains. But they are tastes we can develop. The more you eat of something good for your body, the less you will want to put in something junkie and unhealthy. I know because I have been there.

                                              I used to love BK french fries, I loved them! I would start to crave them if I saw a BK sign but then I would notice when I ate them that they would coat my mouth in a thick gunky taste, and of course, I would get a stomach ache. Cutting out that taste was hard, but well worth it. Now I can't even look at them. I used to also love junky snack foods like Fritos, Doritos and the like, but now when I eat them, I get a stomachache. You can learn to listen to your body when it comes to good eating, and by training your palate to eat better, you can wean yourself off of eating unhealthy foods. I still love stuff that is deep- fried and could eat onion rings, cheese curds and such endlessly, but when I do, it just makes me feel heavy and sluggish. On the opposite spectrum, when I eat a salad rich in dark greens, with a crunchy pepper, some cranberries and almonds and shredded carrot, my body feels terrific. I don't exist on salad alone, but I think you get the point.

                                              Most of the comments here have the right idea; eat what you want, in moderate portions and do something active every day. If you feel like eating fried chicken, have a small piece- you might be surprised at how quickly you can quell a serious craving by eating a tiny portion of what it is your body wants. I keep chocolate Silk Soy on hand and drink a small cup if I have a sweet craving. That's all I need sometimes. If I see Doritos at a party, I will have a small handful and then walk away. By learning to listen to my body, I can keep those indulgences at bay. It may take a while, but it is possible.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: cooknKate

                                                I do WW and plan pretty much what I'm going to eat so I can "afford" my cocktails and a chowhoundy dinner. Works for me!!

                                              2. I'm currently trying for a reduced portion, increased activity "healthier choices more often than not" approach. I am seeing results, slowly. But it's always a slippery slope for me - this has been and will be a life-long battle. In some ways, for me, it is just easier to completely cut things out (temporarily). But I respect your approach. It's not clear to me if you want to lose/maintain or just want to get away from generalized diet obsession - certainly a worthy goal in itself! But if it's the former, have you considered the careful eating during the week, eat what you want on the weekends plan? This approach has been helpful for me at times.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                  I exercise about three times a week and try to stay active throughout the day and this has helped me maintain my weight without dieting. I love beer (wheat beer in particular) and wine. I have tried to drink vodka to cut calories but i figure in the end a beer won't kill you. My advice is to modify your favorite foods so that you can enjoy them when you want.

                                                  This is what i do:
                                                  Burrito: 99% fat free ground turkey, sofrito, black beans, face "greek nonfat" yogurt in a whole wheat wrap on in corn tortillas. Add cilantro and chopped tomatoes.

                                                  Pizza: Whole wheat pita with goat cheese, tomaotes, spinach,any veggies you have around, maybe some chicken if you have it and tomatoe sauce

                                                  these are the two foods i crave everyday so i don't deny myself them i just make them healthy.

                                                  I also eat fish twice a week and bring my own lunch to work every day and have cereal and fruit for breakfast.

                                                  I never use Pam or any "fake" foods. Ever. I love chocolate and have a piece a day and eat buffalo wings with my boyfriend about once a week and usually indulge in some heavy meats/cheeses at my parents house on the weekend.

                                                  My point is you have to readjust your life to lose or maintain your weight. You just have to. Whether you diet once in a while or adjust your everyday life. The thought of not having wine/cheese/beer/wings makes me die a little inside.

                                                2. I have a theory. It is roughly based on "speed of evolution" type eating principles that are popular in the "cave man diet" and other such things, but a bit more focused on cooking.

                                                  I love to cook.

                                                  I know that when I go to 7-11 or a similar convenience store virtually everything in the shop has been "engineered" to need next to no preparation. Open the package and shovel it down. Similarly it has been tested in taste labs to be almost additively yummy. While this is terrific for the profits of the company, it is horrible for the health of those who consume it.

                                                  In by gone times if one had bothered to grow corn to ripeness, then milled the corn, then made the corn into tortillas, then gotten lard/oil to crisply fry the tortillas, then gotten some avocados and mashed them into guacomole you would have expended a great deal of time and energy. This would have been quite a rare treat. Today you can stop into 7-11 and shovel down 1400 calories worth of Doritos waiting for a bus.

                                                  The food companies are all about "speed".

                                                  The more "processed" a food product is the quicker you can eat too much of it, with out really being satisfied, and the worse it is for your health.

                                                  The basic stuff of our bodies has evolved far less quickly than our technology to make food that is packed with energy/calories and flavor.

                                                  The more one does to expend time in the preparation of food the greater ones enjoyment/satisfaction of meals will be and the less likely will the consumption of food become unhealthy.

                                                  Nature has provided us with a surprising array of healthy foods that are suitable for a lifestyle that demands office workers have a "fast" lunch. Lot of researchers have shown a handful of almonds does satisfy midday hunger. Most tree fruits are incredibly portable, packed with fiber and practically 'self limiting' in over indulgence. Same for berries and many vegetable -- expecially the cruxiferous broccolli, boiled soy edamame, sugar snap peas. Protien and calcium packed dairy foods like yogurt travel well. As do hard boiled eggs (if you worry about the fat/cholestorol it is all in the easily left aside yolk, though research has shown that few people see serum cholostrerol increase from a moderate consumption of eggs. Stock on these items weekly, a cooler & some snap containers and one can avoid the unheathy fast food choices that face us at work / on the go.

                                                  I suppose if I had the added benefit of being a heart surgeon I could get a book deal out of this...

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: renov8r

                                                    I have noticed that "real" meals are infinitely more satisfying than anything heat-and-eat.

                                                    I read an article years ago that compared the calorie-to-weight ratio of so-called "wet" foods versus "dry" foods (cookies, crackers, chips, etc--basically anything that travels well without special handling). At the end of the article, the writer compared pretzels to cheesecake, and cheesecake had considerably fewer calories per ounce than pretzels.

                                                    1. re: renov8r

                                                      Our food culture (I assume you're in the US) is broken. I think dieters who harp on what one should or shouldn't eat are in the same boat with people who binge themselves to 300+ pounds. Neither approach is sane. I eat regular meals with my family or friends, or when I'm on my own, I eat when I'm hungry. My european inlaws mostly scorn processed food and indelicate habits like talking about weight or dieting when eating, binging, and eating between dinner and bedtime; they appreciate walking as transportation. I resisted this as cultural snobbery at first, but since gradually adopting it, I've been ridiculously healthier and more satisfied with what I'm eating. Moderation takes only a little bit of work to master but we've just allowed ourselves to get so disordered about this. I think you're on the right track to eat what you want and I wish you luck putting the misplaced food shame of others out of your life.

                                                    2. My husband is the eternal yo-yo dieter. I think he learned it from his mother ... He feels if he's not dieting all caution is out the window so fatty foods, fried stuff, tons of cheese are all fare game. And his idea of exercise? Non-existent. And he wonders why I wanted to buy a townhouse ... two flights of stairs :D

                                                      So please, follow whatever type of diet makes the most sense to you! Eating whatever you want but in smaller portions/when hungry is a very valid strategy. And most important, it's one you can keep up for life. As others have said it's simply moderation. I combine that moderation with lots of exercise (allows more ice cream and chips & salsa!) but whatever fits your needs is paramount. As I've learned from watching my husband and MIL you can't go about starving yourself to lose weight. It simply doesn't work. A life change is what's necessary.

                                                      1. I've learned that it's best for me if i don't discuss with anyone whether I "can" or "cannot" eat something. The discussion of dieting is dangerous because it encourages "judgment," which is often incorrect and merely a reflection of what they really want to eat or not eat, and judgment does not help anyone succeed. But, the purpose of eating properly is really, in my opinion, a health issue -- I want a long and healthy life. It's hard - I wish I were not so in love with food!

                                                        1. I'm diabetic..and actual 1.5er. I have had to change my metabolism in order to live a functinoal and healthy life for any real length of time. I''ve discovered that in order to do that, exercise and understanding portions are necessary. I have to add the carb/sugar thing to that mix, but I'm learning to live with it.
                                                          Between splenda, and embracing the power of fruit and cheese (not hard, that..) Dessert takes care of itself, and I drink a LOT of really good tea and tisanes, as well as water. Food...I just explore better food. More fresh, more interesting off the beaten path ingredients.
                                                          Basically, if I have to have less food, I'd rather pay the same amount for better food. (when cooking,anyway) and when out, I tend to make one standard meal work for dinner and a lunch the next day. I eat less, work out more, but I eat better, and now really enjoy working out.
                                                          Same with alcohol. I can only drink very rarely, so I don't mind paying more for good alcohol and good chocolate. Not is it wonderful, but I've lost the temptation factor for junk. It's the snobbery diet! -grin-
                                                          For me, I've exchanged quantity for quality, and changed my lifestyle somewhat. I still love food, and I don't feel either deprived or authoritarian.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: Perkyshai

                                                            I think if you are really craving things often, you need to look at what you're craving and why. There's a big difference between "craving" a small square of dark chocolate and craving an entire pint of Ben and Jerrys. I think that people who are craving sweets and salty snack foods or fried foods fairly often need to have their bodies and appetites "re-calibrated" by sticking to healthy, natural foods for a while, and then see what they crave. I don't think our bodies are meant to have have frequent desserts or cravings for fried chicken -- if you do, it could be a sign that something's out of whack, like your glucose levels.

                                                            1. re: Chowpatty

                                                              and would add this assertion made by my friend who lost 47 lb and kept it off:
                                                              "you crave what you eat"
                                                              if you allow yourself to eat kfc regularly, you will crave it more. kfc becomes the norm.
                                                              if you break some of those unhealthful habits, even for just a couple of months, you will find yourself craving the salty/greasy/processed/sugary stuff a lot less.

                                                              (once you've made a habit of stopping every morning for doughnuts deep fried in partially hydrogenated oil for breakfast, you can be sure you will be craving those doughnuts for breakfast on an ongoing basis.)

                                                            2. re: Perkyshai

                                                              as far as phoney sugar goes,
                                                              i've found that using some erythritol in combination with the splenda makes for a better-tasting sweetner with the same zero calorie profile.

                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                Give xylitol a try. Despite the chemically sounding name, it's all natural and tastes a heck of a lot better to me than splenda or anything else out there (that I've tried.) It's to be used in small quantities, though. Not recommended for baking, as too much will cause the trots (so I've been told.)

                                                                1. re: MichelleRenee

                                                                  Some people are more sensitive than others - more than 1/3 of a package of xylitol sweetened gum and I spend the rest of the night in the bathroom.

                                                            3. Only you can decide at what weight you're comfortable. . The diet that works for me is simple: To gain eat more. To lose eat less and exercise more. It's all about calories -- most of the rest (fad diets, etc.) are nonsense.

                                                              1. I work with a lot of women, and it seems like everyone is always on a diet, all the time. And they talk about it. All the time. I've only been in the professional world for about three years, and I'm constantly amazed by how much work time gets devoted to talk about weight loss.

                                                                Now, at the same time, I am prone to significant weight fluctuations. In March 2006 I weighed about 110 pounds. By August 2008 it was more like 160. I'm currently at 135. I know full well this is extremely unhealthy, and for me it primarily derives from having a "screw it, I'm going to eat what I want" attitude. I always thought this was okay, because what I want to eat is usually pretty healthy.

                                                                I started using SparkPeople.com to track my calories. For the first few days I just ate "normally" and discovered I was eating about 2,700 calories per day. That was 2,700 calories of things like oatmeal, fruit, soy milk, natural peanut butter, vegetable-filled omlettes, salads, homemade soups, etc... not 2,700 calories of Big Macs and Frappucinos. I'm on my feet a lot at work, but I certainly wasn't deliberately "exercising" on a regular basis. For a woman my height, that was a recipe for weight gain.

                                                                Since then, I've been using SparkPeople.com to track my calories and my intential exercise. It's been a really eye-opening experience. You can look day-by-day, but it's recommended that you get the big picture by looking at calories in vs. calories out for a week or even a month. I have a much better sense of how what I'm eating affects my weight (which is why I'm back down to 135 pounds and still losing... in fact, I wore a skirt from high school the other day!). I'm oddly motivated to exercise more as well. I still eat MOST of what I want, but I've got a much better sense of how much of what I want can be eaten without being unable to put on my pants the next week. Tracking my food definitely doesn't take the fun out of eating- in fact, it's really satisfying when I eat a day's worth of great food then come home and confirm that I've eaten within an acceptable calorie range.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                  I do something similar but with Fitday. However, I'm much more strict & involved than most people as I have a trainer who gives me guidelines as to what to eat. Now, when I can fit in wonderful meals and have fun with it - I've had success!!

                                                                  Keeping track does help one realize just what one is ingesting.

                                                                2. I do think that obsessing about the badness/goodness of food is ultimately counterproductive, as is a lot of the behaviour surrounding food trends and fads. Particularly bad are diets where you leave out one ingredient because it's supposed to be horribly bad, but gorge on everything else. (low carb, low fat, low gluten...).

                                                                  Eating whatever you feel like is not a particularly effective eating strategy in modern society, though, in large part due to the sheer amount and variety of food that is available. It's much too easy to eat significantly more food than you need, and the wrong type, particularly if your tastebuds have become accustomed to stuff that is bad for you. Fried chicken wings occasionally are fine, every night is a problem no matter how much you like them.

                                                                  However, enjoying your food is important. When figuring out what to eat and eating it becomes a chore, something is wrong.

                                                                  Personally, I lean towards making an effort to eat food that is healthy as a normal part of my life. That means that I don't eat fast food or fried food on a daily basis, I don't pig out on snacks regularly, and I cook food at home, from real ingredients, rather than eating pre-prepared stuff. If I let myself go completely and just ate what I craved, and all I wanted, I would be obese.

                                                                  But I cook food I like to eat, I do my best to get good quality ingredients, and I don't obsess over every gram of fat. I take aged cheddar over cheese slices, rye bread over Wonderbread, whole milk over skim. I use butter, and will cook things in bacon fat. But I also love vegetables and whole grains, and know how to cook them so they taste good, rather than being an obligation.

                                                                  Ultimately, I think the best option is to learn to like food that's good for you, to avoid useless calories (things you eat that aren't good for you and you don't thoroughly enjoy), and enjoy things like sweets and fried food in moderation (both in quantity and frequency).

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                    You would have to eat a TON of real food to meet 2000 calorie requirement. You only have to eat a hand full of "processed" food to exceed 2000 calories (bread is processed).

                                                                    Example meal:
                                                                    2 grass fed beef sausages
                                                                    Lot's of organic bell peppers, mushrooms, crispy onions, spinach
                                                                    Add a bit of ground spices for a kick
                                                                    All sauteed over a dab of olive oil
                                                                    Total calories: Under 450, under 12g of saturated fat

                                                                    A typical restauraunt/fast food meal of this type would be at least 800-1000 calories and contain over 2000mg of sodium and 40g of satured fat. It would be the lowest grade of food full of pesticides and artificial stuff....it's basically, artificial food like substances.

                                                                    For desert:
                                                                    1 glass of desert wine/brandy with 3 salmon candy and a couple of slices of blue cheese
                                                                    Calories: less than 200, less than 5g of sugar.

                                                                    A typical restauraunt/fast food dessert would contain 500-1000+ calories and over 20+g of sugar.

                                                                    1. re: mwok

                                                                      Well, you left the starchy bits out of your example meal which would boost the calorie count somewhat - I find that meals without starches don't fill me up very well.

                                                                      I have a personal line for 'processed' vs unprocessed which mainly depends on what the ingredient list looks like, (a recipe or a chemistry text) and how old the processing method is. I do sometimes make my own bread or pasta or yoghurt or paneer or jam or pickles, but don't always have the time or space to do so. So I personally count things like real cheese (not cheese slices), bread with a short ingredient list, yoghurt that's made with milk and yoghurt cultures, jam that's made with fruit and sugar and pectin and so on as real food. If you get dogmatic enough milk and flour are both processed, but I don't have access to either cows or wheat.

                                                                  2. My approach:

                                                                    I eat what I believe is best for me. I do not care in the least what you think about it, or what you eat.

                                                                    Once you take that approach it eliminates all the endless arguing over whether something is healthy or unhealthy, because your opinion does not matter, only my opinion matters.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. For me, I eat whatever I want, within moderation. People always ask me,"How do you eat so much but stay so skinny?"

                                                                      Well, I eat small but often. 5 or so small meals per day. I refrain from processed garbage and prefer to make everything from scratch, myself. I'm sure that also helps. Cheeseburgers, pizza, cakes, cookies, etc. All made myself, never store bought. If I crave something I either make it, or don't and brush it off. No shortcuts.

                                                                      I work year round in my vegetable garden, so not only am I eating nutritious food, but it provides quite a work out to procure it!