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Chow vs. weight control?

As a devoted 'hound, I always have the weight issue to deal with. Anyone out there have any good ideas? And I do go to the gym and walk as much as I can. There's just so much good stuff out there.....

Wish I had one of those bodies that just burns it all up so I could have MORE!

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  1. Eating, seasonal, local and as fresh, as possible, usually helps. Think about it.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Quine

      I've struggled to take off and then keep off some serious late high school and college pudge. (I am now 26 and satsifyingly close to the place I'd like to be, which is probably a tad ambitious.) Although I like the spirit of a lot of 'Hounds to "eat, drink, and be merry!" because we only live once, I also decided that I'd like to be healthy and more attractive, to be utterly frank, during my one lifetime. So I do these things:

      I have learned that really pushing myself exercise-wise is the only way to be trim. (I will always be sort of voluptuous, if you will, no matter how little I eat.) I joined a masters swim team at the YWCA and found that the swimming workouts I was doing alone were not helping me anymore. Circuits, which is what the swim team does, have helped a lot. I don't just plod through the water anymore for 45 minutes, which stopped being effective. Walking is good, of course, and adds up, but really kicking your own butt at the gym might help you if it helped me.

      I really try to avoid high fructose corn syrup. I don't know if it makes physiological sense, since on some level sugar is sugar is sugar, but since I started making a concerted effort to stay away from the stuff, it's been good. Usually food made with HFCS is pretty low quality anyway and not worth it. A real sugar dessert from a bakery or nice restaurant (or made at home)? Completely worth it.

      I have switched to soy milk in my coffee at home and cut out the sugar entirely, which I now vastly prefer and think the taste of the coffee is more pure. It was gradual, but not consuming the equivalent in half-n-half and sugar over a couple of years has been helpful. Sometimes it's the little things. I also order one of those Frappuccino things maybe once a year. Maybe. I'd rather have ice cream, based on the nutritional trade. Or a whole sandwich! Geez.

      Finally, and MOST importantly (except maybe the butt-kicking at the gym), when I cook or go out -- even in full-on CHOW mode, I try to focus on all the good things I get to *taste*, not all the food I get to consume. I have changed from a plate-cleaner to a taste-seeker. I still overeat from time to time, but this paradigm shift has been profound for me. No more eat, drink, and be merry. Taste, taste again, and be merry!

      Hope this helps.

      P.S. I also watch how much I drink. Having one glass of wine is really enough most of the time.

      1. re: slowfoodgrrl

        For someone who's only 26, you've learned a lot! I agree completely about exercising: If you hit the gym hard for an hour, six days a week (I get up at 5:30 to fit this in), you can eat just about anything. I also think you're absolutly right about the American "clean your plate" syndrome, especially with the huge portions we get in most restaurants. When we eat out, I mentally divide the food I'm served in half and take one half home for lunch the next day. If something is not delicious, I simply don't eat it -- to me, those are the true empty calories.

        1. re: pikawicca

          This is not meant as an attack against you pikawicca, not at all, but I see this sentiment all the time on Chowhound -- the "if you work out you can eat whatever you want" sentiment -- and MAN does it get on my nerves. It is just simply NOT true. I work out every single day. I do cardio for an hour a day 4 days a week and half an hour a day 2 days a week. And I don't mean leisurely pedaling the stationary bike while I read the newspaper. I'm pounding the treadmill or sweating on the cross trainer. I do pilates on my non-cardio day. I also strength train 3 times a week for an hour. And I absolutely cannot eat whatever I want. Even with all this activity, I have to watch what I eat closely; when I don't, even when I keep up this level of activity, I gain weight. It's a fact. Who knows whether it's because I have that fat gene, or a bad metabolism, or what. But the point is that for some of us incredibly unlucky people, it doesn't matter how much we work out, we still have to watch the calorie intake. Everyone is different; weight is really complicated, and it does everyone a disservice, I think, to say it's a simple matter of "exercise and eat whatever!"

          1. re: charmedgirl

            I don't think the two of you disagree. I agree with you in that even with the workouts, one has to be careful on the consumption side. On the other hand, I agree with wicca in the sense that I'd be dead if I didn't work out given the eating and drinking that I do!

            1. re: charmedgirl

              Perhaps the difference lies in what we want to eat. I don't care for junk food, so don't eat it. I rarely crave sweets, so don' t eat those often, either. When I'm full, I stop eating. I do not know anyone who operates this way who is overweight. I just returned from a week's vacation in Maine. I spent roughly three hours a day hiking very strenuously and ate a modest breakfast, resaonable lunch, and substantial dinner. Had ice cream every day. Lost two pounds. Most places I ate I was surrounded by skinny folks in hiking clothes eating heaps of food. charmedgirl, if you exercise as you say and still have to watch what you eat, I suggest you have yourself checked for something like hypothyroidism: something doesn't compute. (I once had the opposite "problem:" ate like crazy, was pretty much desk-bound, but was losing weight. Turned out my thyroid was in over-drive.

              1. re: pikawicca

                it really does come down to that, doesn't it. the "gene" that is supposed to contribute to differences in weight accounts for no more than 6 pounds difference. Attitude towards food is everything. One of my friends complains she's overweight but she eats a lot of sweets, it's obvious when we're outogether that she is used to eating more. Another friend has struggled with her weight for a long time, is at a healthy weight, but needs to go to the gym every day. meanwhile her house if full of "healthy" processed food.
                we were all working very hard, and went out for burritos. i said without thinking," mmm, there must be a 1000 calories in this thing, i need this" because i felt burnt out. both of them put down their burritos, and stopped eating. i don't think it's people's "fault" necessarily if they're overweight, but it is due to psychological phenomena and not physical, unless there is a thyroid problem, which is rare.

                1. re: fara

                  Fara, to politely disagree:
                  You've contributed some excellent tips below, but current science does not back up your above statements. Body size and weight are enormously complex, not a simple equation of calories in vs. calories expended.

                  With your interest in biochemistry, I urge you to read the New York Times article of May 8, 2007, linked below -- it's surprising, truly -- and to also head to the National Library of Medicine and read further for the latest medical studies.

                  The NYT quotes a New England Journal of Medicine article:
                  "Weight is more strongly inherited than nearly any other condition, including mental illness, breast cancer or heart disease."

                  Heredity determines metabolism, set point, the amount of satiety hormones produced, efficiency in food processing, where fat is stored, the cellular production of energy, as well as muscles' electro-chemical production of energy.

                  Of course, behavior is involved, but then an individual's biochemistry directs much behavior. Certainly not all of it, however.

                  The incidence of obesity in the United States reflects that, and points to other issues such as changes in energy expenditure at work over the past 50 years, children's lack of physical "playtime," portion size, fast food and its marketing, food additives, automobile driving vis-a-vis less walking, our changed sense of entertainment, the demise of recreation and advent of exercise, a declining sense of community, and on and on. Very complex, indeed.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    ml, agree with you on all, except that the NEJM publication wasn't so much about metabolism as the key variable determining weight, but about how people are "stuck" with a certain weight plus or minus a few pounds (and I say this because many people blame their perceived weight difference from their ideal on "metabolism"). Although the truth is, as you say, very complex indeed.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Yes, agreed on the specific nature of the NEJM article. The NEJM article was a brief mention in the NYT article, which focused specifically on the fiercely predetermined nature of a body's set point and was itself an excerpt from Gina Kolata’s new book, “Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss — and the Myths and Realities of Dieting.”
                      Other recent research available at the NLM and NIH.

                    2. re: maria lorraine

                      ml, i know this is generally a sensitive subject. yes, i am interested in biochemistry, i am currently in a doctoral program in biochemistry. what you refer to as "heredity" is not genetic, it is environmental influences such as what the mother may eat during pregnancy, the family's attitudes towards food, etc. Even if someone is unfortunate enough to be brought up in an overweight household, this trend could be reversed for the next generation.
                      I referred to the phenomena as psychological, because I think most studies have shown that overweight people have a different relationship towards food. This may be due to family ubringing, traumatic experience, stress, current environment, or a genetically determined brain chemistry akin to depression. However, it is completely false to say that genes determine weight, and frankly I am sick of hearing that. The latest published study, as I said above has determined that about 6 lbs or so can be attributed to genetic differences.

                      the biggest and most obvious proof of this is the fact that Americans did not spring out of the Earth, but came from all over the planet. And......50 years ago we were not overweight so no it is not some form of immigrant natural selection. It is our relationship to the environment, how we were raised, how we live now.

                      1. re: fara

                        I politely disagree, but disagree I do about the heredity/genetics of weight. I wonder if you read the research I cited before replying. Please do, as your debate may be with it, rather than me.

                        I believe you may have confused which factors I call genetic or inherited. I mentioned these physiological factors -- efficiency in food processing, amount of satiety hormones produced, etc.

                        I would not characterize family attitudes about food as heredity; those are clearly in the "learned behaviors" camp. I mentioned other behavioral/psycho-social factors in the US as well that affect weight. These operate in addition to genetic factors.

                        'Nuff said. We won't clear this whole issue up on a CH thread, but I would urge you to read more research, especially the large double-blind, peer-reviewed studies. By the same token, I am happy to read the recent study you cite. If you tell me the primary author and title, I'll look it up.

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          I agree w/ you and it does go further. Someone who grew up heavy, due to either heredity or genetics, has more fat cells and once you develop them, they don't go away (liposuction aside) and predispose you to gaining weight more quickly. There is so much that we're learning about the field. I've been reading about how babies in utero who don't get enough nutrients tend to be overweight as adults. One study group was a town in Denmark during WWII that went through a famine due to the war. They said a disproportionate number of them are overweight.


                          It's not as simple as saying all people who are overweight eat more than those who don't.

                  2. re: pikawicca

                    Thanks, pikawicca. I agree, something doesn't compute, it's a mystery to me as well. Just to clarify, I am not overweight, not at all; I'm at the low range for my height. But that's sorta the point. To stay here, I exercise like a maniac and watch what I eat closely. (And I DO excerise as I say, sadly, no exaggerating there!) There may be differences in what I eat, as you suggest; I fully admit I LOVE dessert. (Ice cream every day would be my dream come true. Sounds like you had a great vacation!) But other than a sweet tooth, I'm a pretty healthy eater. I shop the outer ring of the supermarket, TONS of fresh veggies and fruit, lots of fish, chicken every once in a while, red meat once in a blue moon, always the low fat dairy, can't TELL you the last time I ate anything fried, etc. From the posts below it seems people in the know say that it's a cop out to blame a "fat gene" or a low metabolism. I had my thyroid checked about two years ago and was told there was no problem. So ... who knows! I threw my hands up about it long ago. It is what it is. Anyways, I've gotten into a lot more personal details than I ever intended. Really, my initial post was just meant to offer another perspective. We're all made differently, and staying at a healthy weight can be far more difficult for some of us than for others.

                    1. re: charmedgirl

                      just to clarify that my comments did not indicate "cop out." - a lot of research point to the environment people grew up in as contributing to their current weight, through no fault of their own. i wanted to make the distinction between that, and saying it's "genes" which doesn't make sense as I describe above. but you're underweight, maybe you just haven't found a way to balance without stressing yourself out. stress contributes to weight gain, too.

              2. re: slowfoodgrrl

                It is fabulous and healthy that you are no longer drinking half and half in your coffee, but just remember that soy milk is not a perfect replacement for real dairy products. The natural calcium in real milk cannot be reproduced, so make sure you get enough for strong bones!

                1. re: qwertyu

                  Not true! You can get as much calcium from fortified orange juice and soy milk as you can from cow's milk. I am allergic to cow's milk and have never had trouble finding other sources in my diet. You can take supplements (make sure they have vitamin D plus calcium to help you absorb it).

                  Leafy greens such as collard and spinach have loads of calcium, as do beans, mollasses, sardines, salmon. almonds, hazelnuts, etc. There are many of vegans with strong bones.

            2. Dieter on weekdays, using portion control & visits to the gym... then
              Chower on weekends, partying (in mouth & tummy) -- and quality partying at that, not just a beer keg bash -- till the clock strikes midnite on sunday.

              Although this method hasn't actually assisted in melting the pounds off, its at least good at maintaining where I am.

              1 Reply
              1. re: S U

                That's pretty much my plan. I work out 5 - 6 days a week, which makes a huge difference in the calories that my body can burn. On weekdays I have most of my meals at home and bring my lunches to work, and those meals are fresh, balanced and reasonably portioned. Weeekends are another story - then I have most of my meals out at restaurants or at friends' houses, and I pretty much eat and drink whatever I want. That plan has kept my weight pretty stable for about the last 10 years (I'm 42 now), and while I haven't been overweight by anyone's charts for years I've actually lost a few pounds over the last year by shifting my weekday diet away from white foods (bread, pasta, potatoes, rice) and towards more lean protein. I've always loved fruits and vegetables so eating lots of those doesn't feel like a chore to me. Also, I find that a by-product of eating this way is that my weekday diet moderates my appetite such that when I do go all out with the steak, pizza, deep-fried whatever on the weekends I truly don't want to eat as much of it.

              2. seems like most people have the same answer- portion control and water. Drink plenty of water all day long just for general overall health. Eat what you want (within reason) but remember that you don't need to eat all of it- especially true if you are an american hound; your portion sizes are totally out-of-control (in general).

                1 Reply
                1. re: nummanumma

                  My hubby and I have some serious appetites, but we only eat organic/biodynamic/unprocessed foods and much of what we eat we make from scratch. The places we dine in also tend to serve fresh foods or we order accordingly.

                  That being said, last night we had huge veal osso buccos simmered in a sauce made from fresh tomatoes, eggplant, basil, onion, garlic and spices over whole wheat linguine served with fresh salad greens from our garden that I tossed with goat cheese and pears and coarse pepper. Everything was organic and much of the produce came from either our garden or the local biodynamic farm. Make no mistake...health nuts we may be but we EAT.

                  But nothing processed or manmade makes it into our kitchen. So we stay slim and most importantly, healthy.

                2. Eat lots of vegetable dishes, soup, and lean meats, stay away from bread & white rice as much as possible or make it a weekend treat, and drink plenty of water.

                  I have one of those stocky bodies with an unremarkable metabolism, so I know what you're dealing with. I'm contemplating taking up ice hockey again, or maybe just skating--so much food, so long to my waistline!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Louise

                    Water, water, water... an apple every single day, less protein and don't deny yourself what you really like! These are my secrets! Oh, and move around alot at work.... don't just sit there all day...and of course exercise. I'm done.

                  2. So, you'e clearly not the first one to wrestle this issue. Here are what others do/reccomend/deal with it:


                    - Especially this quote: "Remember, if you're gonna get suspended for fighting, you might as well knock out a tooth.
                    Bottom line, saying you feel guilty does nothing...either you wanna or you don't.
                    Make no excuses.
                    Eat well everyday and exercise...I don't mean to run a 10k everyday, just don't be lazy.
                    Cuz when your daily habits are healthy, you don't have to worry when you splurge on a 16 course tasing with wine pairing.
                    I happen to be a personal trainer who does not diet, does not exercise excessively, and I have no history of any eating disorders (unless you consider my obsession with bacon a disorder)...my clients always ask me why I'm not huge when they hear about all the fine dining I do...well here it is: think about it, when you see unhealthy/overweight people eating, do you ever really see any pleasure on their faces, do they ever SLOWLY saver each bite, do they really fully chew each bite before the next one...I know it sounds harsh, but really.
                    I know, there are a ton of thin people with the same habits but god only knows what is going on on the inside.
                    The trick is, enjoy every bite. Feel no guilt. Eat slowly and weigh the pros and cons of the guilty pleasure.
                    There are nights when I really want Tommy's Chili Cheese fries...no guilt, but I know I wont feel very good the next day but sometimes it really is worth it and I'll just workout a little bit the next day or choose to not eat quite as much cheese ( I do love my cheese but I don't want it on my ass).
                    I had to make a choice today...work-out between clients or enjoy a quicky with my boyfriend...I chose the man even though I know I have an amzing dinner to go to with my wine/foodie friends tonight that will include tooo much food and too much wine...I intend to eat the F--- outta everything and Drink the F--- outta the wine with no regrets...why? Cuz I chose to eat very clean and light today knowing I can't resisit the butter and bread and that I'll take an extra spin class tomorrw.
                    Work-out to pig-out and enjoy every bite!!!
                    We only live once, be healthy everyday so we can enjoy a little bit of decadence every night and we'll live longer to enjoy more amazing meals if we're lucky."
                    tatertotsrock Apr 24, 2007 03:54PM
                    Seriously, I love how she puts it!

                    1. I also like to plan out my meals for the weekdays, and eat healthy then. I'll try to eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole wheat bread and pasta, and fish, and cut back on beef and cheese, my major downfalls. I even schedule my snacks so that my metabolism doesn't go haywire... I also stop eating after 8:30 pm on weeknights.

                      My workouts are usually on the weekdays, but I'll push myself harder on the weekends if I have the time. I also found that when I started circuit training, I lost a few pounds. You may have to tweak your workouts - too much routine isn't good for weight maintenance or loss.

                      But weekends are different for eating. I eat what I want, and that's when I experiment with making a new dish at home, or I go out and get whatever I feel like having. It's kind of a reward for behaving the rest of the week. I enjoy my Tastykate Butterscotch Krimpets, cheeseburgers, etc. then.

                      1. Just because you're served a certain portion, doesn't mean you have to eat it all! Eating a fraction of what you're served still allows you to experience the food without as much of the guilt!

                        Also, totally agree with the dieting 5-6 days a week and letting yourself have what you want the rest of the time

                        1. I've been curious about this too. I'm 41 and still OK although my chowser ways are catching up and my gorgeous, sexy girlfriend is starting to gain weight from our CH lifestyle.

                          Other CH'ers...fess up.

                          1. If you're eating in an American restaurant, when your plate arrives, divide it in half. Eat one half and take the other half home for lunch the next day. Our portion sizes are crazy. Desserts are treats. Once a week is plenty. Eat a healthy breakfast: this usually means a whole grain cereal, such as oatmeal. Quaker Oat Squares are also good. Eat a salad for lunch. Get the junk food out of your cupboards! Exercize, exercize, exercize!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: pikawicca

                              If I go to a place that I know has very large portions and isn't too fancy, I'll ask for my meal in a to go box. Then I'll get a small plate and serve myself from the box. That way, I'm far less likely to pig out and eat everything.

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                Cleaning the house of junk food or even the "good" junk food (i.e. low fat chips, cookies, etc) is key for me. I bought a 36 count box of 100 calorie snacks such as cheetos, ritz bites, etc and I couldn't stop at just one. Before I knew it, I kept going back and going back and had eaten 5 of the little bags.

                              2. Allow a splurge once a week. Call it a carb/calorie spike. If you stick with 2000 +/- calories a day 6 days a week, your metabolism may actually benefit from a spike day. It thinks it needs to try harder and can create the lasting effect of a screaming metabolism for days.

                                1. I'm 57. Until I turned 30, I could weigh myself and then weigh and eat 50 lbs of food, weigh myself again and no change. The day after I turned 30, I could gain 50 lbs just thinking about eating something.

                                  So I've continued to run distance and lift heavy weights on a strict schedule. I don't cook all that much meat; and normally prepare only one full all-out meal per day. Planning is needed not to eat two or three full-bore meals per day. Sometimes at conferences and workshops, especially in Asia, one can have a breakfast buffet, a full conference lunch, and go out to a big dinner with colleagues. Couple of days OK, but a week of that and its blubber boy.

                                  I cook with little grease and oil, lots of fish and vegetables. Drink lots of water and juices. We NEVER have soft drinks, prepared foods in the house; and basically never eat junk or fast food. We do eat a lot of the funny bits.

                                  When I cook for others (often!), however, I don't hold back--I'll serve you stuff with classic heavy French sauces or all that newvoo pork belly and lamb ribs with the rest of em.

                                  151 lbs for the last many years.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    Traveling can be a killer. We're going to Maine in a couple of days and we've found a place to stay that has a good gym on the premises and we'll have our own kitchen. Being able to eat breakfast and lunch that we've made is the ticket, then we'll chow down on butter-drenched lobster, popovers, whatever for dinner. Breakfast buffets (especially good ones) are evil!

                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      That's right! When I work in DC, I try to stay in one of the suites hotels with kitchen. Really, really helps. Plus I get to eat stuff available in US grocery stores and don't get bored and slug-like eating out too much.

                                  2. I recent lost 25 lbs (over 8 months) by cutting out all dairy from my diet. It really forced me to be aware of what I was eating. For example, at a brunch at a friend's house, all I could eat was a plain bagel, veggies with no dip and fruit. I realized that if I hadn't been thinking so hard about it, I'd easily have put away a piece of quiche, bagel with cream cheese, veggies with dip, cookies and a piece of cake. When you can't eat dairy or anything made with dairy, it cuts out almost all junk foods. (Not ALL junk food, because I did find dairy-free cookies, candies, etc to have for the occasional treat.) Of course, it cuts out a lot of great food too. I'd have to really scrutinize menus, and I just avoided Mexican and Indian, where I knew it would be too hard to avoid cream, cheese and butter. So it's not a strategy I'd recommend for long term, and indeed I am adding dairy back in now, but I'm being much more aware of it and trying to minimize the weight-gain foods I'd not have thought too hard about before.

                                    Oh, well, it probably also helped that I was breastfeeding. Now that I'm tapering off with that, I'm trying to make up for that calorie burning by increasing workouts. And a friend who had to cut out dairy put ON weight. So I don't know if it would work for everyone, but it sure did work for me. Just make sure you make up for the calcium somewhere else in your diet. Oh, and I cut all alcohol out as well.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                      Oh breastfeeding is the best diet ever! I could eat anything (and did) while the chowpup was using me for all his meals. It was so lovely. Now... he only comes to me a couple of times a day and I've gained 7 pounds. I'm almost tempted to try and lure him back for more! But since he's over two that seems a bit much.

                                      The best diet advice I ever got was to earn your food. For each reasonable meal, exercise 30 minutes. One meal a day is a freebie taken care of by your usual activities. If you have a big heavy meal then add a little more exercise. It's always worked for me.

                                    2. Two words: portion control. So long as you do things in moderation and get lots of exercise you should be fine.

                                      The average restaurant portion in the US with the exception of fine dining tasting menus are obscene. Order an appetizer portion instead of an entree portion. Share a salad and get one dessert for the entire table if you must have it. Ask for sauces and dressing on the side. They add lots of extra calories and fat. Leave off fatty garnishes like sour cream, cheese, bacon.

                                      Order your chicken or fish grilled instead of fried. Order poultry or fish instead of red meat. If you must eat red meat, eat it lean.

                                      Little stuff adds up. My husband lost 30 lbs eating out exclusively (we were doing a kitchen remodel for a few months).

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: lisaf

                                        Have lost 60 pounds since Jan. You have to exercise, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and have portion control. I eat 5-6 times a day and try to always eat breakfast. I hit a spin class at least 4 times a week, Drinking plenty of water , limiting starches, and avoiding fried foods are also big factors. I tend to splurge on weekends now that I 've lost the weight but have to incorporate exercise every day.

                                      2. Appreciating what you eat is the big one. Focus on *tasting* rather than *eating*. I was on Weight Watchers and learned a lot of good eating habits there. Eat lots of produce, drink lots of water, little things add up whether good or bad. Also, if you are going to fall off the wagon make it count--don't eat one little taste of ice cream and then feel bad, get the extra-large portion with whipped cream and double fudge sauce and make a point of savoring it. And if you do fall off the wagon, don't beat yourself up, forgive yourself and make sure you get back on again. Good lessons for life, not just for food. Oh, and having a diet/excercise 'buddy' really helps. However, if you are female, the buddy should not be male. Men seem to lose weight without even trying.

                                        BTW, I have no connection to WW other than having used the plan a few years ago. It really worked, 35 lbs in 6 months, and I've kept 25 of them off.!

                                        1. I'm a big believer in "natural weight".

                                          That is, every person has a natural weight that they gravitate towards automatically if left to their own devices. Your natural weight may be more (or less) than someone who is the same gender/height as you, but it is your own natural weight.

                                          With that said, I think you should just eat what you want and how much you want.

                                          Life is too short, and the list of good eats is too long to deprive yourself.

                                          If you find yourself a bit heavier than what your natural weight dictates, exercise a bit more.

                                          If you think you are a bit too thin, eat more! :-)

                                          1. My new year's resolution was to cut out trans fat and I've been told I look better. I don't know about actual weight because I don't weigh myself, but it seems like the fat is going better places, away from the gut and upper arms. I feel better and noticed it within a month or so.

                                            I probably only ate a few grams a week of the stuff anyway, but it kept me from eating free cake at a restaurant opening, french fries on road trips etc.

                                            I think cutting out ingredients that are genuinely bad for you (high fructose corn syrup is next years resolution...) is OK but dieting is not, a recent Finnish study showed that you're better off keeping the weight on! They're controversial though. I agree natural weight is the way to go, don't be hard on yourself but stop when you're full.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: LaurenTX2CA

                                              I'm on a campaign to keep HFCS out of my house, and it's darned difficult -- awful stuff seems to be in everything! At least Heinz now has good organic catsup, but my beloved Thomas's English Muffins have been banished.

                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                Trans fat is the exact same...it's in everything! no more bisquick, I have to make pancakes and waffles from scratch. In general, no mixes - the whole brownie/cake mix aisle is out. But you know what, it tastes better from scratch anyway. And those mixes are so fast, and you eat them so quickly, AND they're kinda unsatisfying because they're not really GOOD - it's just bad all around. So overall I'm happy with the decision. It is only a real chore when I'm out in a restaurant, because I hate making the waitress figure out if the fries have trans fat or not.

                                                I am scared of baning the HFCS...one thing at a time I guess...as I chug my afternoon root beer.

                                            2. I think there are some of us for whom staying thin is always going to be a challenge, and I am one of these people. I can remember how vigilant I had to be as a teen and young adult not to gain weight. I gain very easily when I'm not physically active, and I wasn't as a teen and young adult. I find that when I'm physically active, it's much easier to keep off extra pounds. It's a lot easier to feel full on fewer calories when eating lots of fruits and veggies, and getting plenty of fiber and staying hydrated. I try to shop the perimeter of the grocery store for the most part, but will readily admit to loving baking, ice cream making, etc. I just try to do that more on a monthly than a weekly basis, or to do it when I'm having freinds or family over. This tends to all go out the window on vacations, but I also love to hike or do special activity on vacation that balances out the indulgences, for the most part. I get into trouble when I let any of these habits slide, which I have done. It's a struggle to stay physically active during the winter, for example. It's worth the trouble. I am currently dealing with a disease that affects my metabolism, and all I can say is that it definitely puts a healthy lifestyle in perspective.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                I love to bake, too, but I give most of what I bake to the neighbors; the rest is devoured by my (irritatingly) slim husband who can -- and does -- eat whatever he pleases without gaining weight. Once my thyroid went haywire and had to be nuked back when I was 30, I've not been able to eat with the glorious abandon of my youth. I've made lots of friends at the gym, though, and hiking rocks!

                                              2. Are you competitive at all? If you are... you are in luck because I have something for you. I recently went from 5-10 & 165 to 180lbs in 7 months after having the baby... and its mostly fat. So I joined Indoor Soccer... and although the first game isn't until tomorrow I am already sub conciously making choices that will make be a better competitor... I crave running, water, healthier foods etc.,

                                                I think you can certainly be a devoted Chowhound while eating healthy & well. Sometimes it takes some very simple changes to get results... like going for 2 Tacos instead of a Burrito... having Beans, Guac & Salad instead of Rice, Beans, Sour Cream & Guac etc.,

                                                1. Some dishes can be modified so they're as good, or nearly as good, with many fewer calories. I can cook breaded chicken marsala with two sticks of butter, or I can cook it skinless & bare in a nonstick skillet with two tablespoons of butter. Now that Vidalia onions are in season, and red bell peppers are affordable I think I need to get some chicken, mushrooms & veggies and make it all happen.

                                                  Sometimes you NEED sugar and/or fat, but sometimes you can leave it out.

                                                  1. I love this topic! Great suggestions and input from everyone (THANKS)! The other thing I wanted to offer is home cooking with fresh ingredients, spices and herbs rather than sauces. We do lots of fun things with creative pestos - on everything, lamb, fish, chicken, pork. We also use olive oil rather than butter. We find this creates great meals at home without lots of unnecessary calories. We also avoid bottled dressing, and make our own with vinegars and oils. One of my other favorite tricks is cooking with peppers (rumored to increase the metabolism - which I can't speak to) but it certainly rev's up everything and makes the food fun and colorful. Peppers are great for everything - you can be creative, and use them indoors in the oven or pan or grill for summer fun.

                                                    We certainly aren't skinny in my house (having lots to do with the wine drinking, I'm sure) but some of the suggestions you have all mentioned along with some of these that I have mentioned keeps us in the healthy range and allows us to enjoy our lives, and our meals!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: tsays

                                                      Drink lots of water and sloooow down when you eat and chew thoroughly. Put down your fork between bites. I have a friend who struggles with her weight, and she cleans her plate before I even get a quarter way through. She eats so fast she doesn't know when she's full. I can only eat a few bites past when I feel sated, and I think some people eat so fast they don't recognize this feeling. Don't feel obligated to clean your plate, and please don't insist that your children do. It's not doing them any favors for the future.

                                                      1. re: diva360

                                                        Diva, it is so interesting you should say that, because it is my experience as well. When I was on WW, I became conscious of so much about eating habits that I hadn't noticed before. Am I hungry, or am I actually thirsty and just assume that it's hunger. Chewing enough and paying attention to actually *tasting* and *savoring* my food. I find now that I eat very slowly, others are always done before me. Also, that few bites past full is incredibly tuned--it's gotten so I can tell when I've had *one* bite past full.

                                                    2. Lots of issues/factors here.

                                                      The biggest three factors are those you can't change:
                                                      1. Age. Whatever you do in your 20s and 30s to keep your weight down won't be enough in your 40s and 50s. Also with age, injuries appear and exercise limitations develop.
                                                      2. Genetically pre-ordained metabolism. Read The New York Times article "Genes Take Charge, and Diets Fall by the Wayside"
                                                      link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/08/hea...
                                                      3. Levels of satiety hormones. These vary greatly among individuals. These hormones tell you when you're satisfied and help you stay feeling that way.

                                                      Only secondarily do these enter the picture:
                                                      4. Energy output -- exercising
                                                      5. Caloric intake

                                                      So we are each stuck with ourselves.
                                                      What has helped me:
                                                      1. Only eating ingredients/dishes that have a high degree of flavor. The calories aren't worth it otherwise. That means searching for great ingredients: strawberries from the farm stand that taste intensely strawberry-ish, for example. The same goes for any produce, or cheese, chicken, shrimp, fish, seafood, beef, lamb, pasta, bread. Anything that goes into your mouth.
                                                      2. Cooking techniques that maximize flavors and aromas without adding calories: steaming, grilling, marinating, using citrus zests, fresh herbs, balsamic reductions, small amounts of parm reggiano, etc.
                                                      3. Excellent quality condiments: freshly cracked pepper, sea salt, balsamic, fresh herbs, etc.
                                                      The very highest-quality olive oil and butter, so a small amount really registers.
                                                      4. A visually satisfying table as often as possible: candlelight, placemats, cloth napkins, nice music low in background (audio).
                                                      5. Recreational exercise rather than just exercise if you can manage it.
                                                      6. Liters and liters of water.
                                                      7. Portion control and re-training the eyes, both at home and at a resto. For two, getting an app/salad each and splitting an entree is plenty of food.
                                                      7. Knowing which foods to avoid for the most part (the "white" foods); occasional splurges OK.
                                                      8. Knowledge of the glycemic index and the foods that cause insulin spikes and weight gain.
                                                      9. Having many sources of entertainment and pleasure.
                                                      10. And last, acceptance -- while you're trying (or not trying) to make improvements.

                                                      Good luck to everyone, especially jazzlover and charmed girl!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        Many thanks, Maria Lorraine, for your encouraging remarks. Much useful info (the NYT article) and some really good common sense tips.

                                                        I appreciate all the good tips/advice everyone on this board contributed!

                                                      2. Priorities, priorities,priorities! So many factors, so many choices, but the fact remains: calories in must equal calories out. I've changed professions from teaching to becoming a licensed Maine guide. I've increased my calorie intake and lost 13 lbs in the last six weeks. One mountain bike tour and 2 kayak tours yesterday and a 3 day camping, paddling tour on the Maine Island Trail tomorrow. I'm 58 and loving life. Gimme a beer!

                                                        1. here's my philosophy, and i've been 15 lbs more than what i weigh now ( i have a small frame) and I couldn't figure out how not to gain when i was so involved with food. now i have no problem, even on vacation which used to really put on the pounds.
                                                          -i actually don't go to my gym and am now thinner. i really want to go back for yoga classes, though, which is a great way to tone and feel better.i get aerobic exercise walking up hills, occasionally riding a bike, etc. i think the gym lifestyle is not sustainable,, what if you can't make it to the gym? what if you're on vacation, if it's not enjoyable you won't be able to do it for the rest of your life. and why waste time on something like that?
                                                          -have a job that you are really excited about. i gained weight when i had nothing else to think about but food.
                                                          -buy fresh vegetables, and fish. try to avoid meat at home (not completely, it just doesn't need to be at every meal). eggs, fresh herbs, lemons, sea salt - i always have fresh parsley on hand.
                                                          -cut out milk, cream, and fresh cheeses. yoghurt and hard cheeses can usually fill this place fine, butter is ok b/c that's a taste i want. i also feel better without the fresh dairy, i think it makes me tired.
                                                          -make sure everyday plates are salad size. i got a dinnerware set at target, the salad plates and shallow bowls are perfectly sized. when i'm not serving anyone else, i may eat something out of a fruit cup bowl if i'm not hungry.
                                                          -stay hydrated. buy bottled water if you don't like the taste of water. buy something other than poland spring, dasani, or other crap that tastes worse than the faucet. sparkling mineral water is good sometimes too. and not that expensive. do not drink soda or juice - or only rarely. best way to leave you with low blood sugar and eating too much. that also goes for anything with sugar substitutes or HCFS. you should see my appetite an hour or so after a stick of sugarless gum.
                                                          -eat breakfast, every day. i have found, only in the past year or so, that i need bread every single morning for breakfast. good bread that is hard on the outside and light but chewy on the inside.not the loaves from pepperidge farms, which are not good for you or your appetite! i toast two slices and have it with raw almond butter, or with butter, salt and lemon. some yoghurt or whatever or eggs or fruit if I feel ike it in addition to the bread.
                                                          -no crappy chocolate or candy
                                                          -no chips or only rarely, and only if I'm with other people so I don't turn into a fiend and eat the whole bag
                                                          -no frozen dinners, prepackaged foods of any kind (i.e tomato sauce, i buy imported italian tomatoes and make a sauce in 10 min.)
                                                          - for God's sakes, go to a good supermarket. if you're a hound, i'm guessing you do. but common sense as a hound says you won't eat the fruit and vegetables if they aren't amazing.
                                                          if my friends are going to mcd's i will have something. if i feel like cookies or something else that's "natural" and sweet,fine. i don't suggest making yourself uncomfortable in any way, and try to make changes slowly. also, when you lose some weight, immediately switch to tighter pants so that you don't eat more.
                                                          oh, and beans and legumes are a good way to add protein without gaining.
                                                          i actually had a woman come up to me in whole foods and ask me as i was checking out the hot bar if that's all I was going to eat ( I had a small portion of a cheesey chicken casserole on the plate). i wasn't sure why she asked and so i inisisted on her telling me, she said she always wondered what someone as thin as me ate (i also had on slimming high waisted pants, i'm not super skinny). i told her, i only have good things to eat at home. ha- sort of a chowish response, no?

                                                          1. All you have to do to realize there's a problem here is go outside the U.S. and see that others are doing something differently. One, they walk a lot more. A lot of countries don't have so many fast food places, heavy on fats. Two years ago, while on vacation in Morocco, I fell and was in the hospital there almost a month (broke a bone in my back, had surgery there). They made me stay in bed the whole time. I lost 10 lbs because I hated the food, some days I only ate bread and water. For breakfast, there was a little danish, bread and 1 pat of butter. The next 2 meals had bread but no butter. I told the nurses how we get all the bread and butter we want here in restaurants. I sent the nurses out to buy me chips and cookies and the chips were ok but cookies awful so I didn't bother with those anymore. Any grocery store here has incredible selections of sodas, sweets, snacks. If I were raising a little kid now, I would not have sodas or juice in the house, only water. You're better off eating fruit rather than juice.