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How do you eat so well and control your weight?

I'm about 6 croissants away from becoming that person who needs to be lifted by a crane from their couch. How do you keep your weight under control and still enjoy wonderful food? Do you eat steamed vegetables all week and go nuts on the weekend? Is there a secret breafast that holds you through the day? Seriously, what do you do?

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  1. Portion control and exercise do it for me. I also rarely eat sweets.

    4 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Exactly my routine.

      I also go easy on the starches (a constant test of willpower), cook with little fat/oil and use little if any salt.

      1. re: pikawicca

        This is me too. In fact, I portion control so well as to be able to eat the higher fat stuff and NOT scrimp on flavour.

        Also, when I choose what I want to eat, I know that there's ALWAYS another day in the future where I'll be able to eat those 10 other things that looked great on the menu (or in my fridge). It's very important to remember that or you'll just gorge yourself stupid (or drive yourself crazy)

        I have been thinking as of late (from reading RhodeIslandchef's LV choices for this summer trip), that I may never be able to do a chef's tasting menu. I don't think I have a big enough appetite to eat all the courses.

        1. re: livetocook

          I just did a lovely one last week to celebrate my birthday. I ate a little of each course, passing the rest of it along to my husband, who can eat anything and not gain weight. I enjoyed the tasting menu a great deal, and did not feel the need to eat all of any one course.

          1. re: pikawicca

            That sound ideal. Except...hubby has his moments but, alas, is not a chowhound. At least 60% of the dishes I'd choose to eat he'd be scared to.

            I guess I'd have to justify the wastage for the experience. What did I read later on in this post, "by the 3rd bite the dish loses it's initial luster". I'd have to follow that rule just to make it :P

      2. I eat very well all week and then mix diet tonic with my gin. Works for me but not my waist line.

        1. Exercise, exercise, exercise....
          Seldom have entrees unless I'm splitting/sharing. Usually stick to an app + soup or salad and limit it to one glass of wine. No dessert unless sharing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: leahinsc

            If you want to eat so well and keep your weight under control, exercise is the main healthy solution. I eat really well, but make sure I do cardio AND strength training to keep my metabolism up. A great place to find motivation for the exercise part is through FitFiend.com (www.fitfiend.com). It has a lot of great info on how to exercise and find people to help motivate you.

          2. Different body types and metabolisms respond to different things. For the most part, moderation and exercise are going to do you well.

            Also, keep in mind that if you're cooking with good, fresh ingredients and controlling the content (ie, not cooking with things loaded with high fructose corn syrup), the food is going to be better for you than if you'd eaten a similar sized portion of some fast food or quick-fix hamburger helper sort of meal.

            Pasta tossed with some olive oil, minced garlic, freshly grated parmesan cheese, some fresh tomato slices, fresh black pepper, and some broiled chicken or beef or fish is a hell of a lot tastier and healthier than a smaller portion of hamburger helper or Manwich and very close to being just as easy to make.

            It is, however, much more expensive. There's a reason that poor folks struggle so much with weight issues in the US, and that's primarily because the cheap foods are loaded up with high fructose corn syrup and other fillers that are not healthy, and simply add empty calories and no nutritional value, but they sure are filling. Or when a greasy, but filling for your kids, McDonald's hamburger only costs 99 cents.

            Most of the people I know are struggling to make ends meet, and so it's really hard to balance your diet and exercise (when you're working two jobs), and afford more expensive whole ingredients plus the time, and facilities, to cook them.

            So in some cases, what you run into are people who either have a fair amount of money to start with, or who are simply better at finding good bargains on whole ingredients, or who skimp in other places in their lives in order to have better meals, or who only have the fancier meals very occasionally, when they can afford to splurge.

            It's actually a shame that "home economics" classes in the US have gotten such a bad rap for so long and turned into such pathetic versions of what they -could- have been because what they should be teaching our kids, along with some basic cooking skills, is household money management and kitchen management. MOST people don't know -how- to shop well, so they spend more money on less nutritive food because they're in a hurry, they don't have time to plan ahead, or they THINK they don't have time to plan ahead.

            Phew... guess I had a lot to say about this. :) but in a nutshell, exercise. Finding time for exercise is one of the best ways for handling the occasional splurge into the realm of creams and prime meats. :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: Morganna

              Morganna, you make a lot of terrific points in your post, but the point about Home Ec classes really strikes a chord with me this morning. After all, it's Home. Economics. With all the talk of recession etc. don't we wish we'd taught Economics of the Home to our kids in school? I sure wish I'd been taught.

              EDIT: and to the OP, exercise & moderation (and pretty much everything everyone else before me has said).

              Sadly, I've had a bad couple of years where I let the balance of exercise and moderation get out of whack in my life and I'm having to put it back into whack by dieting. I'm following Weight Watchers Core plan, which I heartily recommend for anyone who wants a "healthy" weight loss plan that focuses on lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and whole grains. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/473398

              Also, I think it's much easier to control your diet at home than it is in a restaurant, so, learn to cook, join a CSA, learn how to source the highest-quality ingredients, experiment with different cuisines and grains and unfamiliar ingredients and techniques so that you have a broad repertoire, so you learn how to make foods delicious and interesting and healthy so you don't get bored and fall back on sugar and fat as your only tools for adding flavor and interest.

              When you eat out, share entrees. I used to say, when you eat out eat only half and take the leftovers home, but, if you order a full plate of fried chicken, say, and split that with someone else---you only end up consuming half as much fried chicken than if you took the unconsumed portion home and ate it the next day.


            2. A friend of mine at the gym introduced me to this website. It is really easy to do. Once you see all you are eating it makes it easier to cutback on what you eat. http://www.thedailyplate.com/
              It's a GREAT resource. It's free and easy to get the hang of.
              I am still trying to lose 15lbs. I've lost 2lbs, it's my 1st week. I've been modifying. I used to do 20 min. of cardio at the gym, now I do 30. Hopefully, I can increase it more next week. Rather then use cream cheese on a bagel, I'm getting used to using smart balance, rather then stick a glob of cheese in my mouth, I bought Laughing Cow lite triangles, when I want a snack, I take some pretzels dip them in the triangle or a tblsp of peanut butter. Because my cholesterol was high, I cut out meat for a bit, I'll eat it, but not nearly as often as I was. Last night we had breakfast for dinner, normally I would have eaten 2 eggs, bacon, and 2 pieces of cheese, mayo on a roll. I am very proud of myself for this one, I was satisfied eating egg whites, morning star tofu bacon (cooked crispy), 1 piece of cheese, and a tsp. of lite mayo still on a roll. I've been doing things like this all week, gradually. I rewarded myself with a cherry danish for breakfast today. Not good, but a reward every now and then helps keep you going.

              6 Replies
              1. re: michele cindy

                Good question and great links.

                When I did it, and lost 45 pounds in 6 months, it was easy.

                Maintaining it? Not so easy.

                What I did -- cut out carbs, my white whale. No dessert, my white whale and then some. Salads, veggies, fruit, meat, fish, and my reward, a drink a day. A mile a day, every day.

                Seven years later -- still no carbs, but no veggies and not much meat. Won't say what my diet consists of, but it's bad and I've put back 5 pounds.

                Restaurants are tough. Cooking and baking is tough.

                It can be done. Don't believe the hype that it's easy. It's work, and it's for the rest of your life. But it 'can' be done.

                Someday, they'll make a pill that will allow me to eat all the donuts and ice cream and cheese and peanut butter (my white whales) I want and not gain weight.

                1. re: michele cindy

                  Great link! Thank you so much! So much easier to use than fitDay...I lost 15 lbs last year, and have gained almost all of it back, so this is extremely useful, thanks again.
                  I have been trying to remember what I did last Spring that made the weight fall off. I think it was a hyper-alert effort to get leaner, smaller portions, LOTS of working out, cutting back my alcohol consumption and falling in love that did it. I can easily see how my habits have reverted back and I need to put on the brakes quick!!!
                  Damn martinis...
                  I remember eating as many egg whites as I liked, usually hard-boiled, lots of salads with things like TJ's smoked trout or poached salmon for lunch, limited cheese and half-portion of crackers for a snack and usually a ton of veggies for dinner. Like, an entire bunch of asparagus for dinner.
                  If I got hungry before bed, I'd do the cheese and cracker thing again, satisfying but not a lot to digest or turn to fat (Laughing Cow Babybel Light cheese and Kashi TLC crackers, pretty good actually).
                  I know I eat way more now, and it's probably not realistic to eat as little as I did (really think falling head over heals took away my appetite!), but I wish I could curtail the emotional eating I seem to lean towards these days!
                  Ok, it's off for a walk to the store, then a good one hour cardio workout before my Friday Cocktail with my honey!

                  1. re: michele cindy

                    That is an amazing site. I truly thought I ate very little yesterday, but calcuated it all and I shockingly consumed 2,300 calories!!! Wow.

                    I'll be using this everyday. Thanks for posting this.

                    1. re: kkak97

                      I like this website for nutrition data and weight loss information


                  2. Thank you so much for sharing that website. I'll try it. I'm back from vacation and boy do I need to make some changes. Best wishes!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: DaisyM

                      I was born with an amazing metabalism, I can eat anything and not put on weight unless I am striving to. Of course this says nothing about what is happening to my arteries...

                      1. re: Sean

                        Just curious how old you are? I was the exact same way, it lasted until I was 46. Being a food lover, I tend to eat much more then the average person so just cutting back to the average eater seems to be helping me. But cutting back is still hard for me. Growing up, I could eat 2 frozen pizzas, a dozen of jack in the box tacos and still be thin as a rail. As I got older things changed gradually and now it's time to make the big life style changes. Which are pretty depressing!

                          1. re: Sean

                            Your metabolism slows as you lose muscle mass, so keep on exercising or you will be joining the rest of us. If you start out as a short, thin boned person it is hard to keep daily calories in the weight loss range without exercise. Even then, I think you almost have to measure/weigh and count calories, or use some program that emphasizes portion control such as WW. If you get hungry, I think eating 200-250 calories every 3 hours helps keep the evening snacking under control. So does avoiding too many simple carbs in any meal...ditching the "white foods" helps.

                            My everday meals are

                            1/2 c yogurt (non or lowfat) with a portion of fresh fruit, 1Tbs of flax meal (or some nuts), and a half of a Weetabix biscuit (or other cereal). I'll also take the vitamins and fish oil with bkfst.

                            Snack is usually a sardine on a few Ry Krisp crackers, or a serving of nuts and fruit

                            Lunch is green salad with 3 oz or so of fish, tomatoes, whatever other fresh vegs I have, serving of avocado or olive oil, lime or lemon juice, fish sauce, garlic, basil or mint, and some small amount of carb foods-pulses or whole wheat bread, usually.

                            Dinner is cooked veg and another protein, whatever is on hand. Small piece of chocolate for dessert.

                            If I haven't gone over my calorie amount for weight loss, an evening snack to make up the amount.

                    2. Just to piggy-back off of this topic, what do you guys do for exercise? I usually cycle consists of 2 days. One day I will jog 3 miles (I will travel a total distance of 3.5 miles with warm up/cool down walks) and do a few upper body weights. My second day is a 45 minute walk on the "random" feature on my treadmill, which again I will go about 3.5 miles total. I'm good for my weight (I'm 18, 6 ft 2 in, and about 140 lbs), but I always wonder if its enough. Fast metabolism or not, I'm striving for a healthy body, regardless of what the scale reads. I'm not looking to be buff, just healthy, so I mainly do a little weights to stay trim. What does everyone else do?

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: pastry634

                        pastry634, with bad knees, I used to walk a mile a day on the treadmill. It wasn't a fast mile, maybe 20 minutes. With the concentration on portion control and types of food, it worked.

                        1. re: dolores

                          Dolores, walking is a great exercise, especially for those who are not used to regular exercise, and for those who have a few too many extra pounds to make strenuous exercise less feasible. It does not require special equipment, and most people don't have to learn a new skill to be able to start participating right away (although on particularly clumsy days, I wonder if I should take a refresher course).

                          I spent two years in the States, and we had to drive everywhere. Even the grocery store and gym were difficult to access because of a nearby Interstate. I gained a lot of weight. As soon as I moved back to Montreal and started walking everywhere, I quickly lost 5-10 pounds without trying. A walking culture really helps keep weight off.

                          1. re: moh

                            I also live in an urban environment where I walk almost everywhere (Boston, very similar to Montreal), but it was not enough to keep me fit once I got into my 50s, so I joined a gym and do 30 minutes of weights and ab crunches and 15 minutes of cardio 4 - 5 times a week. That does the trick.

                            1. re: moh

                              Cycling is also a great way of tootling around town and burning extra calories at the time, without the pounding on (mine anyway) aged knees.

                              If you're in a very hilly environment, like Montreal, there are now "e-bikes" - pedal bikes with an electric assist motor. You still have to pedal, but it's a lot easier going up hill with the assist. I don't use it on the flats or downhills.

                              Lots of benefits - good cardio if you bike far enough, burn calories, build muscles in your legs (awesome calves for the ladies!), tighten up your butt, save gas money if you bike to run errands, fewer emissions, and the best benefit of all - you can eat some "bad carbs" and still keep your weight under control. Age shouldn't be an issue - I'm over 50, and I regularly see people older than me biking along.

                              1. re: KevinB

                                When I first moved from Winnipeg (flat prairie) to Montreal (hilly) I had difficulty walking up hills! I just wasn't used to it. I'm much better now, and I have now graduated to biking up the hills too!

                                I agree biking is also an excellent way to get exercise, but for someone who has never exercised regularly or is significantly overweight, I do think walking is still the least intimidating way to get started with a physical regime. Especially if they are not comfortable on a bike. But I agree, once they get used to regular exercise, biking could be a nice logical next step to try to get used to more vigorous exercise. Hiking as well.

                                I've seen more and more of those e-bikes around town, and they do seem like a real boon for those who might require a bit of assistance biking. It certainly is nice to see people out and enjoying this activity who might otherwise not do it.

                          2. re: pastry634

                            Well, to keep it chowhoundly, I have a few restaurants that I like to walk to (neighborhood pub-type places) and I like to walk to the grocery store.


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              I also walk to the grocery store, it's a real workout! It also keeps me focused on a meal or two at a time. There is no room for packaged junk food in my backpack, when I have to fit a whole duck, a 1/2 gallon of milk, and loads of bulk grains and fruits veggies. When it's all done I have to cary them back up a steap hill! But it makes me happy to do it. (Yes I have car, but I also have two good legs that can carry me to the store!)

                              1. re: LaurCar

                                I walk to the coffee shop (about 2 1/2 miles round trip) in the morning, which gets me off the computer for a while. I also walk while playing golf if it's allowed. And weights or other resistance training, 3 or so times per week. Yoga when I get around to it, used to do it daily but have been lazy.

                                1. re: mlgb

                                  It's a shame so many golf courses require you to take an electric cart. I far prefer to walk (and carry); a 6-mile hike with a 25-lb pack is a workout! When I visited Scotland, no one used electric carts (buggies, as they call them), and very few even used pull-carts (or "trolleys").

                                  I recently got some small dumb-bells, and I try to do a few sets during commercials while watching TV. Every little bit helps!

                            2. re: pastry634

                              I've been doing the same routine, basically for the last 40 years: 3 weight-training workouts per week and 30 minutes per day, 6 days per week, on the treadmill at a brisk walking pace (I've always had wonky knees). The past couple of years, I've become a big elliptical trainer fan.

                            3. Yes to moderation, portion control and exercise as others have said...croissants are NOT going to hold you through to lunch...a boiled egg, piece of fresh fruit and a croissant might do the trick but the croissant is junk (I know, I know it tastes good!)...take the stairs always...park further away from wherever you are going...move around as much as possible. Also, consider going to 5 light/small meals each day rather than 3 standard ones...I've heard this is also a good way to go. I'm small but I care very much about staying healthy and try to get the best bang for my buck with the foods I choose. A little protein (meat or non-meat) with each meal is important and that's what stays with you. Self-control is a big factor.

                              1. if you eat more calories than you burn you put on weight if you eat fewer you lose weight.

                                that's it in a nutshell.

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: thew

                                  I have to say, someone always comes on diet thread and says that and it's not really very helpful! Everyone knows that to be the case, but dieting is about finding strategies to quell your natural impulses, which for a lot of people are to eat more than they need.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    actually it is very useful. it means do not distract yourself with all the nonsense and misinformation and pop fads that people are making a mint off of and focus on the basics, watching how much food you take in, and how much energy you expend.

                                    everything else is fluff

                                    1. re: thew

                                      I get that, but for a lot of people food is intimately connected to their emotions. That's why so many find it hard to eat less. IMO all those "it's not rocket science" type responses aren't helpful. If it was easy, why has obesity reached epidemic proportions in the developed world.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        hey. i'm one of those people who find it hard. but the fact that it isn't rocket science, and my ability to cut away the nonsense and understand that, is what makes it possible for me to find a way to do it. As to why obesity has reached epic proportions, i'd say it is a combination of living in a world of plenty with bodies designed by millions of years of scarcity, and marketing by businesses concerned with profit, not health. and consumer ignorance. which is why simple factual statements are more than helpful, they are needed.

                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                          I agree with both of you.

                                          Food for me is 20% about stopping my physical hunger, 40% about the emotional tie, and 40% about the pleasure of something tasting good. The more I tried to follow dietary guidelines, (such as no white carbs, no sweets), I became anxious about eating. Worse, I would feel guilty when I fell off the wagon and that would lead to even more unhealthy emotional eating.

                                          For me, simplifying the whole thing into calories in/out eased my anxiety, stress about what excatly to eat and guilt if I "messed up". Minimizing these negative emotions helped diminish my carvings for comfort foods and naturally led to healthier choices.

                                          <if you eat more calories than you burn you put on weight if you eat fewer you lose weight. that's it in a nutshell.>

                                          I don't think thew means that this is easy. Clearly it is not! I think for some people, like myself, having dietary rules or limitations actually makes it harder for us. Focusing on the big picture of claories in/out makes everything feel more managable. Even the thought of shunning white flour makes me obsess about running to the vending machine!

                                          1. re: Honey Bee

                                            That's interesting. I have the opposite experience - counting calories makes me obsessed.

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              I guess that is why it is so important for everyone to try things until they find what works for them. We are all different and just because one thing works for one person doesn't make it the magic formula for everyone.

                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                You & the other 94.99999999% of Americans.... or so the research shows.

                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                  Except I don't think GG is American ....

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    No, but us Brits are fast catching you up on the obesity front (not you personally, MMRuth!).

                                        2. re: greedygirl

                                          Everyone may "know" it, but it is not, in fact, true.

                                          Appetite, metabolism, and the body's "set point" (look it up, you won't believe me if I explain it anyway) are far far more complicated than calories and calories burned off.

                                          Recent medical research in the field of metabolism and appetite, specifically, have shown that what is mostly touted as 'common sense' when it come to weight control doesn't work for everyone.

                                          If you read the research and talk with bariatric doctors, you find that this whole thing is way more complicated, and it does people who have dieted themselves up to being morbidly obese a disservice to claim so emphatically that it's just a simple matter of counting calories, controlling appetite, and exercising more.

                                          For health purposes, a varied diet with fresh vegetables, more whole foods, and a reasonable amount of meats, including fats accompanied by regular exercise of varying types is the best course, regardless of what your weight ends up being in the end.

                                          1. re: Morganna

                                            Interesting, Morganna.

                                            But that wouldn't sell books, or diet plans, or prefabricated overpriced food, or fill up hours and hours and hours of infomercials.

                                            Fortunately for many, they have the luxury of being obsessed with their weight and provide a ready market for those selling the perfect, last 'diet'.

                                            1. re: Morganna

                                              Exactly. I just read a new book, Rethinking Thin, that discusses the whole weight loss issue and the history of dieting in America. What's most important overall, is having a healthy lifestyle and not concentrating on what you weigh. A thin person isn't necessarily a healthy person and a healthy person isn't necessarily thin.

                                          2. re: thew

                                            And if you die, thew, you lose lots of weight too.

                                            The trick is to maintain a healthy diet while you are alive and enjoy life at the same time. Not easy for someone where food is plentiful and blessed with both health and the ability to choose their lifestyle.

                                            It's not a black and white issue.

                                          3. Exercise, portion control and a little bit of restraint are what works for me. And eating more vegetables - a good rule of thumb is to have a plate which is half vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter carbohydrate.

                                            I lost 30 pounds a few years ago now and, like dolores says, the hardest thing is keeping it off. I find that constant vigilance is the key. I have a goal weight (140 pounds, which I see about once a year), and a "panic" weight, which is about 150 pounds. I weigh myself regularly, and when I see 150 pounds on the scales I do WW for a while until I feel comfortable again. Although 150 pounds is not overweight for my height, I know it means I need to cut back a bit. It's not exactly fun, but it works for me!

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              I'm terrified of maintenance. ;-) Because, you know, it's for life, really.


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Well that's the right way to look at it, at least! Why is it so much harder to lose weight than to put it on? *sigh*

                                                Your habits do change though, with time. I don't eat until I'm uncomfortably full any more, and if I have a big lunch I don't normally eat much else. I used to be able to eat three-course lunches and dinners (usually in France), but those days are gone, sadly.

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  This is encouraging! I do think that the length of time that it will take me to lose the weight will be enough for me to have developed new habits and "recalibrate" my perspectives on proper portions, etc.


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    You'll be fine. Having put in all the hard work you won't want to undo it all! I have maintained a healthy weight for many years now, but as I said, constant vigilance is the key (apart from when you're on holiday). I love food too much ever to be skinny, but I'm a respectable US size 8 or thereabouts, which is good enough for me.

                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      You really do get used to eating sensible amounts if you stick to it for awhile... I NEVER go over 2000 calories any more, even on 'eat everything in sight, forget the calories' days like holidays. 1500 is my normal allowance, and on special occasions I eat whatever I want and it always logs in at around or just under 2000.

                                                      1. re: Kajikit

                                                        I wouldn't go that far - I'm more than capable of putting on seven pounds or so on holiday!

                                            2. Tons of exercise. Cook for myself where healthy never means steamed vegetables with poached chicken, reduce my carbohydrate intake, never drink full-sugar sodas and everthing in moderation. Weekends, however, are a crapshoot so my weight loss has been very gradual. Still I'm doing rather well for someone who ate two bacon-pepperoni pizza slices, buffalo wings, onion rings, chicken fingers, fries, mozzarella sticks, pizzette, crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, flank steak tacos, sushi, pierogi and around 10 mixed drinks over the weekend.

                                              1. Exercise and portion control. And recognizing that there are some miserable, terribly unfair people out there who don't need to show as much restraint as you do. I grew up with a brother who'd have a giant milkshake with extra protein powder in it every night (and occasionally a cheese burger after dinner) to avoid wasting away into nothing. While I've always had to be more careful. Sucks, but it's the situation.

                                                That being said, I find that keeping my pantries spartan with the exception of what I should eat and can eat daily - then if I want to treat myself, i do so with a single serving item. Having something like a container of ice cream or a great cheese - I don't trust myself to provide "moderate" servings. Out of sight, out of mind. Or thought about deeply but unavailable. I pay more for those treats then when I do want them - but my waist thanks me.

                                                I usually work out 5-6 times a week for an hour to an hour and a half - and I used to do marathons. But the only time I ever truly had my body under fantastic control was when I did crew in college and was a vegetarian. But then I was working out 6 days a week for 3 hours a day. So - some of us just have to do more to get fewer results.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                  protein per meal should not be more than 4 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) the majority should should be complex carbs. The USDA's revised food pyramid is a good guide, they have a very useful website:


                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                    Those people are pretty few and far between though. The vast majority of the time people who eat less, weigh less. I once saw a TV programme where they monitored two friends for a month. One was skinny, the other overweight. Both maintained that the skinny one ate a lot more than her plumper friend and that it was all down to "metabolism". It turned out to be completely untrue. The thin friend simply ate less.

                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      I get that. And I know that snacking for me is an issue - even if it is healthy snacking. But, I also grew up in a household where I saw someone eat a higher calorie diet (my brother and father) and were able to stay skinny. I'm not saying I'm overweight - it's just a lot harder for me and my mom.

                                                      Roughly speaking (from ADA sources) your body weight is the result of 40% metabolism and 60% diet/exercise. So while people control a lot of what can happen - there is an aspect that is not as easily controlled.

                                                  2. My issues: portion control and cravings.....My solutions so far (by no means perfect, but they keep me at a stable weight):
                                                    * No sweets (I'm lucky that I don't really have a sweet tooth - my cravings typically involve bread and cheese)
                                                    * Walk as much as I can (can't stand the gym or anything organized that requires a membership); in those lucky days when I get out of work early, I've been known to roller blade and hike
                                                    * Protein + high-fiber carbs at most meals - these keep me full the longest. I also don't eat meat, but this has nothing to do with weight maintenance, but with a pretty terrible food-poisoning episode a few years back.

                                                    1. DaisyM

                                                      You have asked the million dollare question or should I say BILLION? That is how much the diet indusrty makes on a yearly basis.

                                                      Everyone reponded with great tips. It is very simple to some degree....what you put in your mouth you must burn off or it turns to fat. If the items are bad and you still burn them off, your body can still have harmful effects besides gaining weight.

                                                      My tip to you is learn how to read labels! I know this sounds basic, however, REALLY learn how to read lables. Example - I have been consumming Total or Special K cereal for breakfast, snacking on pretzels and low fat fruit yogurt. I never looked at the sugar count in the cereal and pretzels or the HFCS in the yougurt! Now I snack on plain greek yogurt, whole wheat pita chips (homemade) and oatmeal for breakfast. Simple changes but with BIG results.

                                                      I love to dine in restaurants. This is the tricky part....if you try to eat healthy, you must make special requests. Example - egg whites for breakfast at a restaurant? Swimming in butter. You must request no butter, no oil. Same with meats, sides, etc. I have dated a chef....I know how they prepare the food to make it taste great!

                                                      Above all, you must exercise....alot! It is hard work but the benefits are great. Besides being thin and fit, your heart will love you.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: six dower

                                                        This does not like a chowhound lifestyle/diet sound...

                                                        I would much rather restrict the amount of what I am eating than restrict the *kind* of foods -- like cardboard for breakfast or egg whites in restos. Really, the egg yolk is the problem? I always heard eggs (the whole thing, sans the shell of course) was the perfect nutritional package ---

                                                        No butter, no oil? No way.

                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                          My comment was eating "healthy" at a restaurant. Many people eat out instead of cooking. If you are trying to "diet" while eating most meals out, I was simply trying to offer examples of dishes that most people would order as healthy but swimming in hidden calories. When I dine out, I order what I want and let the chef's prepare the food w/o restrictions.

                                                      2. To answer some of your questions more specifically:

                                                        Do eat a decent breakfast. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast eat less throughout the day. Choose complex carbs and a little protein - granola/oatmeal are good, as are scrambled eggs with grilled mushrooms, for example. Make sure your bread is multigrain or rye.

                                                        I find GL is a good way to go - ie complex carbohydrates which keep you full for longer. Think wholegrains, pulses etc. Patrick Holford's Low-GL Recipe Book has some healthy and tasty recipes.

                                                        Make sure you get lots of variety in your diet. If you stick to steamed vegetables all week you will stuff yourself at the weekend, in all probability.

                                                        Don't expect miracles. You will only lose a pound or two a week, sadly.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          All very good recommendations, greedygirl. I have to say, my magic and very portable breakfast has been 2 hardboiled eggs and some fruit every morning. For whatever reason, eggs prepared any other way don't seem to have the same kind of staying power for me, though, I know it has to be all in my mind because an egg's an egg...

                                                          Also, always have tons of fresh fruits on hand for snacking. Same with vegetables. If you're worried about spoilage, buy bags of frozen veggies...

                                                          And choosing to whole grains over refined grains whenever you can really helps keep you full, too. I've recently bought a pressure cooker to help me cook whole grains and legumes more rapidly.

                                                          I've cut way back on my wine consumption (maybe a glass as a treat once or twice a week) and, now that it's summer, will probably start drinking wine coolers.


                                                        2. I consider myself as a person with a weight problem, I have lost over 115 lbs and kept it off for the last 7 years with the help of Weight Watchers. I'm not perfect and have been known to still over indulge from time to time. For me it's more than portion control and exercise, it's also being educated about the quality of the food I am eating. I have eliminated fast food and am cooking for myself and my family. I know the cost of the basics have been going up and it is getting difficult for many people. I also think that spending a little more for a loaf of whole grain bread and some fruit will still be more cost effective than spending money on cholesterol and blood pressure medication down the road.

                                                          1. I think we are getting off topic here. We all know the formula- eat less, move more = weight loss. I think what Daisy is asking is how do you eat the good stuff and not blow up.

                                                            Exercise is, however, the main key.

                                                            As far as what I eat- I don't eat things I don't want. I don't "waste my calories" on crap food that I won't enjoy. I'll happily (occasionally) have a slice of a good pizza- but not on a slice of chain 'za. I'm also not a sugar fiend, so I don't eat desserts- not to deprive, I just don't care for them.

                                                            That said- I still use real butter, cream, etc. What's the point of an alfredo if it doesn't taste good? Just eat less if it, and less often.

                                                            15 Replies
                                                            1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                                              I agree with this 100%. As an example, I used to absent-mindedly nibble at the bread basket when it arrived at a restaurant but most times it was pretty mediocre. I'm not going to waste calories on something that isn't delicious. I remember years ago I went on a kick and bought a bunch of no-fat (no-taste!), fake 'diet' foods and I realized I'd rather eat a SMALL piece of good cheese than a whole block of the plastic stuff. It's about choosing quality over quantity.

                                                              1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                I agree with this idea of reducing your intake of high fat foods instead of eating a bunch of "fake" diet foods... The key to this I think, though, is knowing how much, for instance a "small" piece of good cheese is. Is that 1 oz? 2 oz?

                                                                When I first tried to lose weight, I tried to reduce my intake of high fat foods (eg., cheese, cream butter, etc.), but found I was, at best, just maintaining, and sometimes even still gaining! I think my entire perspective on how much was a normal portion had completely was out of kilter. The frequency with which I had been eating out had a lot to do with that. Restaurant portions are often much larger than a person should eat in a sitting. Sometimes, it can help to have structured advice or a structured program (ie., weight watchers or something similar) while you're reeducating yourself about what reasonable portions and proportions are.

                                                                I will say, there are some non-fat foods (0% Fage, for instance) I don't object to that I am eating while trying to lose weight. Once the weight is off, I will adapt slightly and probably switch to the low-fat versions of those foods. I know that probably makes me a bad chowhound or causes me to subject myself to some things that aren't entirely healthy, but I've made this short-term sacrifice because I don't really want to be in weight loss mode forever.


                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  One of the changes I've made recently with regard to portion control and serving sizes is to start employing my measuring cups and spoons and a food scale my mom gave me for Christmas. It's basically re-training yourself to know what actually constitutes a serving. After a while you get used to how a serving looks so you don't have to be quite so precise about it. I agree that restaurants have definitely skewed our perceptions about portion sizes. I enjoy a decent sized meal much as the next person but some restaurants serve portions that are obscene.

                                                                  1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                    Smart! Maybe I should start carrying a set in my purse for eating out. :). Seriously though, once you start weighing and measuring at home, it does help you recalibrate, and then you'll even have a better sense of portion size when you eat out.

                                                                    I also no longer eat anything I don't like. If I order something in a restaurant that doesn't taste as good as I wanted, I don't feel the need to continue eating it, even if it means asking the server to bring me something else, along the lines of, I've changed my mind, I'd like to have Y, could you bring that and just box X up for me?

                                                                    A co-worker just put out some cookies and I had a nibble, and didn't love it. So, I discreetly discarded the rest.

                                                                    Calories are too precious to waste them on food that isn't delicious. This has been hard for me to learn, though, because it does feel incredibly wasteful and not very budget-smart. But, well, life involves choices sometimes.


                                                                    1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                      I couldn't agree more. It's easy to say "eat less" and learn "portion control," but how do you know what "a portion" is? When I'm trying to lose weight (and I've lost 35 pounds since the end of November '07), I weigh and measure just about everything--AND, I write down what I eat. There's a big difference in calories between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of olive oil and even though I've been cooking for years, I don't trust my eye to discern the difference. And if I lost two pounds two weeks ago but put them back on last week, I find it immeasurably helpful to review what I ate and find out why. There's a good reason that Weight Watchers works--and weighing, measuring, and journaling are three of those reasons.

                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      I bought a very inexpensive food scale, and found it most enlightening. For example, I bought a large baked potato for a family dinner. It weighed almost 425 grams (nearly a pound!) before baking. But, after baking (which included piercing with a fork to allow steam to escape), it only weighed 350 g. Then, after scooping out some of the flesh (and discarding it), it only weighed 225 g. For the four of us, this came to about 2.5 oz of baked potato each (and since the piece was small, we put less sour cream on it as well!).

                                                                      Same thing with steaks - a six-ounce raw steak turns into a 4.5 oz broiled steak when cooked. When you're computing calories, make sure you know whether it's cooked weight or raw weight. And for cheese - I usually buy large bars of cheddar, and using my finger as a guide, I found 1 finger per ounce was fairly accurate. (This will obviously depend on the size of the cheese you're using).

                                                                      Finally, at my local dollar store, I found 4-oz ramekins at 2/1$. I bought a bunch, and this gives me a very quick and easy way to measure vegetables, sauces, etc.

                                                                      1. re: KevinB

                                                                        "And for cheese - I usually buy large bars of cheddar, and using my finger as a guide, I found 1 finger per ounce was fairly accurate. (This will obviously depend on the size of the cheese you're using)."

                                                                        And the size of your finger. But yes, I agree that even an inexpensive kitchen scale provides much enlightening and useful information when preparing meals (I had never realized what a relatively large amount of protein 4oz. of meat is). A set of measuring spoons and a measuring cup fall into this same category.

                                                                  2. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                                                    True on the exercise being the key.

                                                                    But eating the good stuff? I can't. Of course, the 'good stuff' varies from person to person, but as someone said, if I have my good stuff in the house, I have to eat all of it. So I don't have it around.

                                                                    When I was doing really well, I used to bring home most of my meal when I ate out. I don't do so well anymore, so only eat out once a week.

                                                                    For me, it came down to knowing myself and being vigilant. That's the bad part, if someone isn't blessed with magic genes, it's something that needs tending to, every single day.

                                                                    Speaking of genes, my mother went up to the exact same weight I ballooned to, and lost the exact same weight I did. Weird. She is much more active than I am, at 83 no less, and bless her heart, has kept her weight off for 20 years.

                                                                    1. re: dolores

                                                                      I'm with you on knowing your self and modifying accordingly. Knowing what a real portion size is, and modifying like that is good - but also knowing your weaknesses and not forcing yourself to display willpower. If you happen to know that you are a snacker/grazer - then keep snacks out of the house - or take your cue from those prepackaged 100 calorie packs and make your own. Get those snack ziplock bags and fill them with your snack of choice so you have 100 calories.

                                                                      My other thing is to take the time to be aware of what's in what foods. We hear about how things like nuts and avocados are "good fats" - and they are. But they are also fats. So if on your salad full of healthy veggies you also have a creamy dressing or a dressing with lots of oil, cheese, nuts, and avocado - you can still be looking at a meal that's actually very high in fat and calories. These are healthy sources of fat and calories - but if you're trying to loose weight, there are just lots of things to be aware of.

                                                                      One of the best way so to make sure you keep your weight stable (or going down) is to weigh yourself every day. If it's a holiday week or a celebration, it's important to feel allowed to splurge every now and then. But studies show if you get on a scale every day, you'll be aware when you start inching upwards and need to crack back down on your diet.

                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                        cresyd, I won't tell you how many batteries I've worn out on my scale.

                                                                        And if this helps you any, DaisyM, I made a mental picture for myself after my weight loss that I lost NINE five pound bags of sugar. I couldn't BEGIN to think of carrying them home from the market, yet I was carrying it around for twelve years.

                                                                        1. re: dolores

                                                                          I believe you. My mother is a dietitian and life long weight battler. She's run three marathons, walked two more - and every day she uses her measuring cups, food scales, and a scale to keep herself in check.

                                                                          Anyways - I was just looking to pass on the information. But studies do show that daily weighing does help a lot in keeping weight off. Because once you stop a strict diet and transition to "healthy daily eating" - extra pounds can slip back on when people aren't vigilant.

                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                            cresyd, I'm not sure how it came across, but I was completely agreeing with you.

                                                                            I bring my scale on vacation, if feasible.

                                                                            I am in mortal terror of cruises, and probably won't ever go on one again.

                                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                                              Just got back from a 2-week cruise, didn't gain an ounce. Breakfast: oatmeal. Lunch: veggie salad. Dinner: no bread or dessert, but pretty much anything else. Exercise: 1 hour a day in the ships great gym. This is my routine whenever we cruise.

                                                                            2. re: cresyd

                                                                              I can fluctuate as much as 5 lbs. water weight on a daily basis, so weighing myself every day when I have been on a "diet" has only had a detrimental, i.e. frustrating effect. I think weighing yourself once a week, same day same time might give you a more realistic idea of where you're at.

                                                                              On that note, I don't have a scale in Germany, so I have no clue what I weigh right now. A better indicator for weight loss is how your clothes fit.

                                                                      2. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                                                        I have a similar philosophy.

                                                                        I call it my broccoli, dark chocolate and red wine diet. Basically, if it not one of my favorites (dark chocolate/red wine) or something else that is *really* worth enjoying, then what I eat should have maximum nutritional value with minimum calories. When I am not indulging in an awesome meal or one of my favorites, I eat lots of yummy farmer's market vegetables and fruit, non-fat cottage cheese, oatmeal, skim milk, brown rice, chicken breasts, and eggs. Busier days mean that I substitute canned, healthy soup or beans. This also means that I absolutely enjoy every bite of all of the amazing meals I do eat.

                                                                        I also joke that I diet so I can eat on my vacations. I am the only person I know that dieted for my honeymoon, not to fit into a dress (dress was loose -- I wanted to eat the food:). I am three pounds under my weight from a year ago - which is amazing, considering my food consumption trips to Paris, Mexico, Tuscany, Bangkok, and Singapore.

                                                                        When I am not on vacation, I track my food and excercise using fatburn.com.

                                                                        Exercise is really important to losing the weight and feeling fabulous. I try to stay really active: hiking, biking, skiing, roller-blading, walking the dog -- at least 7 hours a week, plus 3 hours a week of weightlifting (no -I am not a bodybuilder type; but I can lift my grandma, to help her, like nobody's business!)

                                                                      3. Exercise, avoid processed foods (especially "diet" foods), and eat out as little as possible. This leaves me some room to eat a few squares of good-quality chocolate or a few spoonfuls of gelato after a wholesome meal. I stock my pantry and fridge with good-quality oils, cheeses, butter, pancettta, whole grains, and tons of seasonal vegetables (ramps, rhubarb, asparagus) so I feel like I'm eating "gourmet" every day. And when I do go out, I eat for pleasure, enjoying what's in front of me to the fullest, chewing slowly and savoring each bite.

                                                                        If I learned anything from the French, it was this: to enjoy whole foods in small portions. A cliché, but it works. I also visit Germany every year, and even on a bratwurst, a gelato (sometimes two), half a bar of chocolate, cheese and butter ever day, I find I lose weight rather than gain. It's a strange phenomenon, but I think it really says something about the link between food quality, a satiated appetite, and body weight.

                                                                        I also found yoga to somehow speed up metabolism and after some years of practice, to change your body in such a way that you'll automatically stay away from things that are bad for you. And I don't mean "bad" as in dessert, butter, fois gras, but chemical-laden, processed foods like bite-sized "low-fat" chocolate chip cookies conveniently packaged so you can spill entire thing into your mouth.

                                                                        Lastly, I grew up in a family of overweight and some obese food-lovers, so I have a constant reminder to keep eating well but under control, and oh yeah, maybe take the stairs today if I want to have that dessert tonight.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: yumyumyogi

                                                                          I think I am the only person ever to come to the US on holiday and lose weight! Mind you, it was California, and I must have walked for miles in SF.

                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                            Yes, I think you're the first I've heard of yet! Most of my friends from other countries gain an average of 8lbs when they visit. A few of them vow they've always had trouble gaining weight...until they landed in the States.

                                                                          2. re: yumyumyogi

                                                                            We just came back to Canada from vacation in southern Germany, and we did not skimp or limit what we ate: search for the best chocolate croissants, butter, real cream, tortes, everything with gravy, etc. The food was too delicious to pass up, and we were on vacation. But interestingly, my husband lost 5 pounds and I did not gain at all (some people mentioned it looked like I had lost weight). We chalked it up to walking so much, and dragging our luggage onto so many different trains during travelling. Call it an enjoyable form of exercise.

                                                                          3. I love to eat and never had a problem with maintaining a healthy weight....unitl I met my husband and moved to the burbs. When I lived in the city, I walked EVERYWHERE. I can see that, that was the reason why I could eat what I wanted. So now it is walking on the treadmill. And I hate to say it...but it feels like work. Walking in the city doesn't feel like exercise...it is just what you do to get around. I realize that the gym is now a part of my life...but I hate it! Now I HAVE to focus more on portion control.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: DaisyM

                                                                              Walk around your neighborhood. Take in a block or two at a time. In the gym, use some other machine instead of the treadmill. Like a rowing machine (learn proper technique). Or break up your routine a bit. Add weights to your excercises. Do classes. Yes walking in the city is a means of transportation and was something you more or less had to do. Now it's got to be something fun you want to do.

                                                                              Everyone, portion control is a great thing but, also slow down the eating speed. Unless you're a firefighter shoveling down food to beat the alarm, put the fork/spoon down between bites. Chew slower. Savor those flavors you enjoy so much. And wait an hour so so after the main meal to eat dessert, then only when you're still hungry. Hot ginger tea in the morning helps stoke your metabolism. A cup of broth before heading out to the restaurant will keep your hand out of the bread/chip basket.

                                                                              1. re: crewsweeper

                                                                                >>eat dessert, then only when you're still hungry.

                                                                                Really? People can DO that?

                                                                                Seriously, good advice.

                                                                                When I slipped, by the way, after losing the weight, I really slipped. I had Haagen Daz for dinner for about, okay, a month straight.

                                                                                And didn't gain any weight.

                                                                                No, I can't do it now, my metabolism, lifestyle, and a whole bunch of things have changed.

                                                                                Ah, what a month that was!

                                                                            2. Reduce your portions. A lot if you need to. Exercise helps, too, but I don't find that exercise works as well as portion control.

                                                                              Avoiding sugar and white flour products will definitely cut calories.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: emily

                                                                                my best friend is a nutritionist - he says he often has this conversation

                                                                                him: how much do you eat for dinner?

                                                                                patient: just one plate of food.

                                                                                Him: buy smaller plates

                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                  I read somewhere that historically, our dinner plates used to be much smaller than they are now. I wish I could remember the source...

                                                                                  1. re: yumyumyogi

                                                                                    I have some from sets of my grandmother and great grandmother, and all the plates are smaller than my newer ones.

                                                                              2. I support what everyone else is saying about portion control and cooking your own food with high quality ingredients, they are both very helpful to keep calories in check and help with satiety if you enjoy you meal and savor it. Also moderation had been mentioned. (i.e. – I know bad things happen to my waistline when I have wine everyday)

                                                                                I also wanted to say that people that sometimes have a hard time controlling there weight when they sit for many hours of the day. (In the car, at work, on the couch, in front of the comp). Even though they exercise for 30 minutes to an hour daily, they are still sitting for the rest of the time. I feel that the more your body is engaged, the easier time it has connecting to real appetite and hunger cues.

                                                                                I spend a lot of time of my feet, in the kitchen cooking, lots of walking around shopping various markets my ingredients, but don’t retire to the couch as soon as the meal is over. I am on my feet cleaning it up, and then I walk around some more. I also spend time digging in the garden, and walking around the park for fun.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: LaurCar

                                                                                  Have been reading this thread with interest and thought I would throw in my own two cents. I am 63 and love to eat and cook. I lost 60 lbs about 8 years ago (it was needed) and have kept it off pretty much the whole time. This is what I do: Breakfast, lunch and snacks are almost the same thing every day: An egg-white or Egg Beaters vegetable fritatta for breakfast with a cup of mixed berries on the side; either vegetarian chili or thick ministrone soup for lunch with a peice of fruit. Mid-morning snack is an apple with a large handful of almonds. Afternoon snack is usually some popcorn or perhaps a large helping of watermelon or cantaloupe. For dinner I use my chowhoundy talents to whip up something tasty but not very high-calorie. My meat portions have diminished considerably and we mostly eat chicken and fish with occasional use of beef or pork. On the week-end we usually eat dinner at a nice restaurant once and I eat whatever I want plus have some wine and desert. Except for my "night out" I eat no sugar, pasta, potato or bread, even whole wheat. I used to eat cereal for breakfast, but found I was hungry again soon after. Changing to a protein breakfast helped me alot. I also eat a moderately high-fat diet using good fats such as olive oil and nuts. And I exercise every day, either an hour's walk or a gym class. Having said all that, I believe that everyone has to find his/her own path and do what works best for him/her. I don't think there is any magic answer.

                                                                                  1. re: lattelover

                                                                                    lattelover, for some reason, your post reminds of something Covert Bailey (remember him? the smart exercise/smart eating guy who was on PBS all the time in the early 90's?) said that has stuck with me over the years.

                                                                                    A guy went to the doctor looking for a magic pill. The doc said, "Okay I'll write you a script for the magic pill, but you must follow the instructions exactly as written." The guy agreed and the doc handed him his jar of magic pills, which looked suspiciously like M&M's, The label read: "Take one pill three times daily after 20 minutes of moderate exercise and a sensible meal."

                                                                                    Magic, right?


                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      Ha! DQ, I think that magic pill is my daily vitamin. The treat is the incentive to treat my body right.

                                                                                2. I'm pretty self-indulgent but I have the type of lean-framed body where every spare ounce of fat I put on goes straight to my belly. Even though I never weighed more than the charts say is appropriate for my height, by my mid-50s I was really starting to look like a pregnant guy. Last year I decided enough was enough, so I joined a gym and get in for a 45 minute workout 4 - 5 days a week. The frequency is key, it really raises your metabolism when you exercise regularly.

                                                                                  It's worked great - I've lost a few pounds, and moved a few others from my waist to my upper body. Plus it helps with cholesterol, blood pressure, pretty much everything.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: BobB

                                                                                    I think this is the first time someone mentioned metabolism, and it is the magic word for me! In the past 6 months I've been focusing on firing up my metabolism so I can eat what I want, which sounds like the OP's dilemma. There's a lot of info on the web from actual experts, but here is my laywoman's synopsis.

                                                                                    Eat to increase your metabolism: eat breakfast to get it started, eat frequently to keep it going, and favor complex carbs, and other foods that your body has to work to process. Cool tip- the body can burn off simple carbs like sugar and bread best earliest in the day, so THAT's when to get the croissants in.

                                                                                    Exercise to increase your metabolism: Build muscle, as it uses more calories, and replace long slow cardio sessions with high intensity intervals and resistance training.

                                                                                    It's pretty funny that I'm giving exercise advice, but this has really changed my physique AND relationship with food, i.e. enjoyment of life. I used to alternate "healthy" stretches and "fun" streches, where I'd slim down and then fatten up, and repeat, but this is much better.

                                                                                    I'd better cite an expert, here's a good article http://laurensfitness.com/2008/01/10/...

                                                                                  2. Okay...portion control and more exercise. Now how about the smart snack or meal that you have that really is delicious...but low in calories. I'll give you one of mine....Take a whole zucchini and shred it with a large whole grater. Heat a pan with just a couple of sprays of olive oil. Dump the zucchini in and saute over high heat with salt, pepper, and garlic. Add just a little bit of freshly grated parm and stir. It is creamy and delicious.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                      Add a touch of butter and some basil and that's a really good meal over pasta!

                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                        Pasta is my downfall. One thing that helps satisfy the cravings for me is to put some of my favorite pastas sauces on a chicken breast cutlet instead. Not that I've done that lately - and I should.

                                                                                    2. Fried chicken only on days ending in 'y.' No more than a quart of hot fudge per sitting. These simple rules and the occasional crystal meth binge keep me under my target weight of 800 lb.

                                                                                      Sorry, but everyone was getting so serious! Seriously, I've always worked out regularly, several times per week. And that was enough to keep my weight where I wanted it, even if I ate and drank whatever I wanted. I always realized that as I got older there would come a point when I'd have to start taking care of myself. And it did; a couple of years ago (mid-40s) I couldn't deny that the couple of pounds a year I'd been putting on, despite the exercise, were starting to add up. So I stopped eating doughnuts, cookies, cakes, etc. that people brought into work; introduced a bit of portion control; cut down on the beer (that was the hardest part!) and generally stopped eating junk. The weight came off, and I have no reason to think it won't stay off. To address the OP's question, I don't think it's impossible to eat well and stay healthy - just don't eat crap (by crap I mean fast food, whole frozen pizzas, 12-packs of beer, doughnuts... c'mon, you know the drill). It really does come down to calories in, calories out, and if you don't waste your calories in on crap, there's plenty of room for good food - 'good' in every sense of the word.

                                                                                      1. A great topic-- I second what a lot of people have said, and would add these two helpful resources--
                                                                                        MyFoodDiary.com is a GREAT way to track your food and exercise, set goals, track your progress toward (or away from) them. The way to track foods includes information easily accessible in a big data base of common brands and typical and unusual foods... even listings of menu items from chain restaurants, for people who go to those. You can build your own recipes too, for foods you like to make at home, and the site will calculate how many calories per serving.
                                                                                        Second, the book (and concept) French Women Don't Get Fat... The idea is to be fully present, enjoying, savorin, really tasting, whatever it is you eat... If you do that, you won't be scarfing bagfuls or eating crap. Enjoy life!

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: missoulagrace

                                                                                          Based on the recommendation in this thread, I just read French Women Don't Get Fat. I thought it was a pretty interesting, gentle read, reiterating much of what has been said in this thread, and in agreement with my own philosophy with a couple of key differences (1. she's very against low-fat/diet anything and, while I applaud that, there are some lowfat foods I do enjoy; 2. she's against most exercise for the sake of exercise. Where I live, it's hard to walk everywhere in the scorching heat of summer and the darkness and bone-chilling cold of winter). What I didn't expect in this book was a few recipes in each chapter that I plan to try (including, ironically, given the OP, for croissants!). Anyway, thanks for the recommendation. A worthwhile read if you just want to explore this topic in a bit more depth.


                                                                                        2. I eat very healthy monday through mid day friday (exception of glass of cab a night). I lift weights 4 times a week, keep a high protein, low sugar, low glycemic diet (2300 cals day/5 meals). Then Friday night, and saturday night i eat and drink whatever i want. Seems to work for me:)

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Robert Hobbs

                                                                                            The first two bites of anything are the most wonderful. At WW, we used to say, eat the first bite and the last bite and eliminate all the others. If it were only that simple (sigh). When the food is wonderful I want to eat all the bites and to lick my plate besides. That's why I had to take rather draconean measures to keep things under control.

                                                                                          2. Its actually very simple...

                                                                                            1) Avoid French & French inspired cuisine at all costs.
                                                                                            2) If you are going to eat French or French inspired cuisine then smoke at least 1 pack per day.

                                                                                            Kidding aside... I would highly recommend you pick up a copy of "Intuitive Eating" by Resch

                                                                                            18 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                              I was waiting to get through the thread and then mention it myself...so true, great book :) I think it's important to know your body. I know if I eat processed crap, I feel like crap. I feel better when I exercise. Lack of sleep has been correlated to higher weights in adults, so get plenty of rest. Everyone has already said it though, but this book really does make sense.

                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                No. no, no. The key to indulging daily in saucy cuisine française is to quaff a litre of red wine every day. A pack of Gitanes or Gauloises is optional. A visit to your doctor is not advised until you notice discomfort around the area of your liver.

                                                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                  In April, I cooked a lot from Simon Hopkinson, who uses a great deal of butter, cream and olive oil, and has a lot of French inspired dishes. In May, we decided to go vegetarian, and I cooked a lot, during the first two months, from a book called Flexitarian, also a COTM, and so we ate a lot of grains (farro, bulgar wheat, brown rice), vegetables, some tofu etc. The interesting thing was, we both noticed that we were gaining weight doing that, and decided to stop the vegetarian thing. I think that we ate a lot more of calorie dense foods, as opposed to eating less of the richer Hopkinson food. Anecdotal, yes.

                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                    Its pretty well researched that historically (if you exclude the disastrous results of the SAD in the Industrialized world) Vegetarian cultures tend to carry more extra weight.

                                                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                      Likely due to a preponderance of carbohydrates (cheaper) and less protein (expensive) in the diet.

                                                                                                      1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                        One theory I have heard is that meat is a much more efficient source of certain Vitamins & Minerals like Iron & B-12 etc., than vegetarian sources... they are so important for staving off Anemia & so forth that your body will demand enough food to keep the person from being to prevent deficiency... typically requiring more calories than you would otherwise consume if you consumed enough meat (which is really a pretty small amount compared to the SAD).

                                                                                                        Over & over again it seems that successful societies tend to end up with a moderate & varied diet where meat plays more of a role as a flavoring agent than as a central item.

                                                                                                    2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                      Wow! That is amazing. I was curious how your veg month was going--interest! Thanks for sharing that.


                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        I meant to say that I've personally found that adding new kinds of whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, barley etc.) and legumes to my diet has been instrumental to my weight loss success (I think it helps me feel more full/satisfied, plus, in my particular case, keeps my blood sugar more steady), but I've never attempted to go vegetarian. I still eat lean meats (in reasonable proportions.) Also, I will say, on the evenings we ate a vegetarian dish from Flexitarian Table for dinner (e.g. one of the tofu, tempeh, or seitan dishes), though I felt satisfied at dinner and thought the meals were delicious (except for the tempeh, which I hated), I woke up hungrier than usual the next morning. (My husband reported feeling the same way). Also, while Berley's recipes were delicious, I still found that I had to reduce the quantities of oil and butter to make them fit into my weight loss program.

                                                                                                        It's clear if I ever decided to become a vegetarian (though I can't envision every doing that, but, then again, never say never, who knows what the future may hold), for whatever reason, I would really need to figure out how to work the whole system so I felt satisfied. I suppose I'd have to eat small, more frequent meals, but, I pretty much already do that!

                                                                                                        There's been a lot of talk about portion control in this thread and I just want to say re: Weight Watchers core plan, there is little formal portion control, except for non-core foods. The idea behind the core plan is that you can eat as much of the core foods as you need to TO FEEL SATISFIED (ie., you should neither starve nor stuff yourself). The core foods are basically lean meats, eggs, beans and legumes (including tofu), vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, non-fat dairy, and 2 tsp of oil per day. Also, you are required to follow WW's "good health" guidelines which require you to have a certain minimum number of servings of dairy, fruits and vegetables, oils, water, whole grains, and protein per day. Also, they require you to take a multi-vitamin, which I think is a good idea for someone in weight loss mode just to make sure you're not missing out on some key vitamin or mineral.

                                                                                                        The only time there is "formal" portion control on the core plan is to assure you get the minimums of your dairy and fats etc. Also, in addition to the core foods, which you can eat as much as you need to feel satisfied without weighing and measuring them, you are allowed 35 discretionary points per week towards "non-core" foods. So, if you want a bit of cheese, a glass of wine, a slice of bacon, a piece of pie etc. There are no foods that are off-limits on the core plan, just some foods that you need to limit.

                                                                                                        In my case, since I started following WW core plan, I've developed a better, more realistic sense of what quantity of food on my plate constitutes a "portion." Now, when I see a piece of lean protein on my plate I think, wow, that's huge, I only need 1/3 or 1/2 of that to feel satisfied, whereas before I'd think, "That's a nice, lean piece of meat. Lean meat is a good choice." and then I'd eat it all, usually, to the point of being over-full. My concept of what how much food I needed to eat in a sitting was really out of whack.

                                                                                                        But, if your concepts of a "portion" is not out of whack, then, moderation (and exercise) are more important than portion control (and exercise).


                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          when i say portion control i don't mean anything s strict as you imply, and am much more in line w/ moderation.

                                                                                                          i equate it with caloric intake

                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                            There are lots of different ways to exercise "portion control", many of which are discussed in this thread and can be used separately or in combination with each other--weighing and measuring with cups and spoons is one, counting calories is another. The problem is, you can't really count calories if you have no idea what the relative calories of things are. So, usually, there needs to be some period of "education" before you can even count calories. The other problem I've seen people have is eating too few calories, then feeling (understandably) starved and bingeing. There are a lot of different reasons why different "programs" and concepts work for people and a lot of it has to do with their current habits and knowledge about calories, portions, proportions etc.

                                                                                                            Sure, you can tell people to eat less, but, maybe the answer is to eat more of some things (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, maybe even protein) and less of others. Everyone's situation is unique.


                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              i don't count calories.

                                                                                                              and while everyone's situation is unique, i still stand by my 1st general rule stated above, and it is true for everybody

                                                                                                              "if you eat more calories than you burn you put on weight if you eat fewer you lose weight."

                                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                                I just started the Daily Plate-that's off the hook! You put in what you eat, and it calculates it all for you. Very cool.

                                                                                                                1. re: jenniegirl

                                                                                                                  jenniegirl--can you tell us more about Daily Plate--is that one of the websites someone's mention or is it something different?

                                                                                                                  (Good to see you here on the General Topics branch, by the way!)


                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    I heard about it from someone on here-it's a website where you put in what you eat each day and it calculates your calories-and tracks everything for you. It's very cool-it's nice to have everything in one place. Also, if I make a recipe, I can put it in, and it will break down the calories as well. Google the Daily Plate-it should come up.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jenniegirl

                                                                                                                      michelle cindy posted the link at the top of this thread, and yes it is a very useful resource.


                                                                                                                2. re: thew

                                                                                                                  It is true, indeed, and is a good starting point, but it's still not very useful as a strategy to someone who is trying to lose weight. How many fewer calories do you have to eat to know you're eating fewer than you burn? And how do you eat fewer calories and still feel like you're getting all the nutrition you need and to feel satisfied and to keep from getting bored?


                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    I have lost 50lb in a year because my doctor scared the fat out of me. I went from consuming over 2,000 calories to taking 1,400 to 1,500 a day. I made the change kicking and screaming for the first month: luckily my best friend is a qualified meal-planner and had helped a diabetic friend of hers get his act together. She kept me on track with my new diet and calmly dealt with my simultaneously quitting smoking.. I like her. A lot.

                                                                                                                    It can be done. The calculations of calories, food groups, fat, cholesterol, et cetera become automatic after a while. And there are plenty of nutritious and delicious available. I have cut my red meat and white starch consumption way down, do not eat fast food, cook virtually all my meals at home so I have as much control over my diet as possible, I do not overload my plate and I forgo second helpings, and of course rarely eat sweets.

                                                                                                                    Exercise is also key to losing weight. It doesn't mean training for an iron man competition. Just get out there and move around throughout the day to start.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                      Congratulations, that's awesome!


                                                                                                    3. My farmer's market and my citrus juicer are a 12 mile bicycle ride to buy wholesome items, but then I'll make and scarf down a platter of chile rellenos. One step forward, two steps back. I''m blessed in a sense that I have almost zero desire for sweets. Remember the "chilies or chocolate if stranded on a desert island" post? Gimme chilies.

                                                                                                      1. Just a note to those who are subjecting themselves to "egg whites" only - you may well be depriving yourself of the most nutritious and tasty part of the egg for nothing. The following link from the Harvard School of Public Health goes into the issue in depth:


                                                                                                        I add the following quotation, as I think it's quite important:

                                                                                                        "For most people, the amount of cholesterol eaten has only a modest impact on the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood. (17) For some people, though, blood cholesterol levels rise and fall very strongly in relation to the amount of cholesterol eaten. For these "responders," avoiding cholesterol-rich foods can have a substantial effect on blood cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, at this point there is no way other than by trial and error to identify responders from non-responders to dietary cholesterol."

                                                                                                        In other words, most people can eat a whole egg a day with little effect on their blood cholesterol. On the other hand, a few people will find their levels rise if they eat eggs (or any other rich source of dietary cholesterol). As the last sentence in the quotation points out, the only way to find out if you are a "responder" or not is trial and error - that is, working with your doctor, limit your cholesterol intake for six weeks, have a blood test, and then eat a moderate amount of cholesterol-rich foods for the next six weeks, and have another blood test. If you're a responder, it's "no eggs for you!", but if you're not, you can enjoy them in moderation without guilt.

                                                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                          I am on cholesterol watch, and I love foods rich in the substance. My doctor is of the opinion that I am genetically disposed to producing more cholesterol than "normal". Regular blood work seems to bear this out.

                                                                                                          1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg, whole, raw, 1 large - 215mg
                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg, whole, raw, 1 medium - 185mg
                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg yolk, raw, 1 large - 215mg
                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg white, raw, 1 large - 0mg
                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg, whole, hard-boiled, 100g - 450mg
                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg omelette, 100g - 410mg
                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg poached, 100g - 480mg
                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg scrambled, 100g - 410mg
                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg fried, 100g - 480mg
                                                                                                            Cholesterol in Egg substitute, 1/4 cup - 1mg

                                                                                                            The recommendation of dietary cholesterol intake is 200-400 milligrams per day. However, dietary cholesterol is not an essential nutrient as the body makes its own cholesterol.

                                                                                                            - http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/cholest...

                                                                                                            One egg can easily put you over the top. Now consider the cholesterol levels of other foods ...

                                                                                                            1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                              by my understanding, limited that it is, there is little evidence that eating cholesterol raises the bodies cholesterol, unlike eating "bad" fats

                                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                                There is evidence that Cholesterol DOES NOT influence blood cholesterol levels. Early experiments showed a substantial correllation (but as we all know that Statistics can go awry) it turned out that the causal factor is actually Saturated Fat. The amount of Saturated Fat & Cholesterol in a food tend to be correlated (hence the misleading early results) but not necessarily so.

                                                                                                                Some foods can be rich in Saturated Fat and not have much Cholesterol... other foods can be low in Saturated Fat but have lots of Cholesterol.

                                                                                                                Eggs & Shrimp for example... were demonized based on the early misleading experiments. There is a decades battle going on in the Nutriotional Sciences community to decide whether to scrap the Dietary Cholesterol guideline... not surprising the Big Pharma lobby is currently winning this argument.

                                                                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                  thew and Eat_Nopal could you point me to credible research on the non-correlation of cholesterol consumed in food to that naturally produced by the human body. TIA.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mrbozo


                                                                                                                    There it is... straight from the man that first discovered & publicized the "link" between dietary cholesterol & serum cholesterol.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                      My instructor at Kaiser's cholesterol education class had a saying... "Shrimp as often as you like, and lobster as often as you can afford". They are both low in fat, hence not restricted. Unlike red meat, which is.
                                                                                                                      Eggs they said one could eat occasionally, but the three-egg omelet wouldn't really be a good idea. Especially if cooked in butter and accompanied by bacon, sausage and hash browns.

                                                                                                                      My uncle is as skinny as a rail, tried the oatmeal only diet and still couldn't get his numbers down. We have the "Uncle Alfredo" syndrome in the family. Eating the right stuff can cause a decrease, but it's small.. maybe 10%. If you're on the borderline, that is why they'll try diet and exercise. It might be enough, along with losing weight.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                        Thanks for the link. A good read.

                                                                                                                      2. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                        Hey, I posted a credible link up above, and it clearly identified that some people, dubbed "responders", do experience higher serum cholesterol if they eat high levels of dietary cholesterol. Most other people do not. Until this effect was discovered, studies didn't control for it, which is why so much conflicting information is out there. (Plus, the fact that many cholesterol-rich foods are often prepared with saturated fats, as Eat Nopal pointed out. Eggs, garlic shrimp, lobster - usually cooked in or served with lots of butter, for example.)

                                                                                                                        1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                          So you did. I somehow missed it first time around. Very informative. Thanks.

                                                                                                                          1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                            The problem... as others have noted... is that eggs are DAMNED GOOD for you and its a shame that people would cut them out, including the Yolk. There are are some researchers out there that have established links between cutting out eggs & offal... and detrimental effects on hair, dry eyes, poor nail quality etc.,

                                                                                                                            Yo know how we give eggs to dogs for shiny fur? Well they aren't the only animals that have the same need!

                                                                                                                            Further when they have looked at cultures where eggs are key to the diet for example Rural Veracruz where the average person can eat 6 eggs per day (but not much meat)... they find astonishingly low serum cholesterol & heart disease. They are trying to establish if the Huastec & Totonac natives of the region might have a special gene... but my guess is that they will find that egg aren't really that bad for you under reasonable circumstances... and no the 3 Egg, Butter, Cheese, Bacon, Sausage Omelette served with Hashbrowns, Buttered White Toast, OJ & Coffee doesn't qualify as reasonable circumstances!

                                                                                                                            For those concerned I highly recommending looking into the Huevos Ahogados technique.... poaching eggs in thin Salsas & Broths... you end up having the entire egg with the sauce / broth... so you don't lose any of the white... and you are relying on butter for flavor.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                              I'll bet their chickens are a lot healthier too...running around, eating bugs, weeds, etc. Same for the other animal protein that might be in the diet.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mlgb

                                                                                                                                i'd say you've never seen a chicken in a developing country then.....

                                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                  What has your experience been? Mine... having eaten my grandmas free range chickens over several summers taught me at a very early age about the inferiority of our U.S. commercial chickens. Not only are the Mexican chickens tastier but you actually have add fat to the pan if you want to sear them... even something like a Thigh has much less fat than your average Foster Farms type chicken breast.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                    To thew...I'd say you're wrong. Unless you think Jamaica in the 1960's was a developed country. We had local chickens and they actual tasted like chicken...and I suspect not only were they leaner, but the fat was "better fat", just like the thinking about grass-fed beef, although we also ate a lot of goat and lamb, which probably also had "healthier fat".

                                                                                                                                  2. re: thew

                                                                                                                                    Have you ever seen chickens livining in one of the chicken factories we have in the US?

                                                                                                                2. My 10 points recipe:

                                                                                                                  1. Vanity
                                                                                                                  2. A life-long history thanks to my mother of eating healthy
                                                                                                                  3. A life-long history of sports and fitness
                                                                                                                  4. A life of heavy lifting 3 days a week & distance running 3 days a week
                                                                                                                  5. No desire for processed foods (anything for which you have to read the label)
                                                                                                                  6. No sweet tooth
                                                                                                                  7. No desire for soft drinks
                                                                                                                  8. Shopping and cooking rather than eating out
                                                                                                                  9. Residence in a country in which the obese are few and the beautiful are many
                                                                                                                  10. All spoiled by drinking too much!

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                    Re: drinking too much

                                                                                                                    You gotta have one vice Sam! You'd be completely irresistible if you were perfect!

                                                                                                                  2. Savoring a special meal or treat seems to help with portion control. Feeling uncomfortably full seems to defeat the purpose of savoring.

                                                                                                                    Having a healthy diet and being active - on a regular basis.

                                                                                                                    Keeping your blood sugar under control by having 3 healthy meals a day (maybe 4-5 mini meals for you) and self control are the neatest "tricks" of all.

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Francesca

                                                                                                                      I'll add eating slowly, not gorging, to the savouring of food and allowing the brain to keep in sync with the stomach.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                        To add to the "eating slowly" bit, it is also worth getting into the habit of checking in with the stomach every once in a while during a big meal and making sure you aren't full already. I call it the "standing up test". It is always prudent to stand up between courses to gauge how full you really are. You can't truly tell if you continue to sit and graze. Once you detect that you are getting quite full, then you have the opportunity to say "ok, I've had enough" and stop eating. If you don't even ask yourself, then you can easily go past the level of comfort.

                                                                                                                        1. re: moh

                                                                                                                          Yes, the 20 minute lag in the stomach transmitting to the brain its state of occupancy is important to observe. Eating to beat the clock, so to speak, tends to result in excess baggage down the line.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                            I think that is why its important to start meals with a Soup... by the time you get to the caloric/heavy course... your body already understands it true satiation level.

                                                                                                                    2. walk walk walk.... -- I walk to the grocery store, park far away from the mall and walk a good distance to get in there....take the stairs, etc. Eat high fiber breakfast (any "good"cereal will do, including cheerios) and don't buy junk food -- if its out of your house, you wont eat it. Limit or eliminate meat from your diet. (I'm a vegetarian, it helps!) Soups are another good cheat food -- while it can be salty, soups are generally low cal and filling, Drink water - skip the soda at meals.

                                                                                                                      My latest diet includes breast feeding / pumping .. its the BEST diet I've ever been on in my life -- I've lost 35 pounds in a month! (sorry guys, but there is one advantage to being a girl) The trade off... you have to give birth in order to do it.....

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                                                                                        I, too, lost 30 lbs the week my son was born, but I seem to have gained about 10 back over the 5 months since then, despite breastfeeding (seemingly constantly!). And everything seems to have found a new home, compared to pre-pregnant!
                                                                                                                        It's been tricky (to say the least) to eat the way I like to, and know is good for me, in the past 5 months... Little sleep, unpredictable chunks of time in the day to plan or prepare meals, reaching too often for the quick fix...

                                                                                                                      2. I'm really interested in knowing what you are actually eating on a typical day.

                                                                                                                        1. After I graduated grad school and moved in with my boyfriend, I gained about some weight. I was exercising 4-5 times a week and no matter what I did I couldn't seem to get rid of it. I tried to cut out sugar and dessert entirely (big mistake for someone with a sweet tooth like me), cut portions, and finally accepted that this was my new weight.

                                                                                                                          Then, this winter I read In Defense of Food, and it totally changed how I eat, and almost without realizing it, I was able to get back to my old weight. I stopped buying 100 calorie packs and other "filler" food, started eating a huge salad almost night, and started buying better quality meat. I judiciously read labels on food (yes, I am one of "those" people in the grocery store) so I know what I am eating, eat fruit or raisins when I am having a sugar craving, and try not to eat after dinner, or at least not after 7 or 8. Now that the farmers' markets are open, we'll be relying on them for much of our food.

                                                                                                                          I am also more conscious of where I go out to eat. I had already renounced fast food back in college, but now consciously make an effort to frequent places where I know fresh, quality food is a priority. The fact that it's getting more and more expensive to eat out (especially where I live) is helpful here. A lot of times, I'd rather just make something myself.

                                                                                                                          I still love dessert, and will not deny myself it now. However, I am finding that my sweet tooth has become less sweet, and sometimes I can't finish one cupcake, whereas I used to be able to gobble them one after another. It's also helped getting my boyfriend on board, so we are on the same page.

                                                                                                                          My mom was and still is a very emotional, compulsive eater, eating without thinking, yoyoing from high to low, and I think I inherited that relationship to food from her. Simply thinking about what I am eating and putting into my body has done a world of good for me, and I feel healthier than I have in a really long time.

                                                                                                                          1. I have most definitely learned portion control! In fact, between portion control, exercise (nightly half hour + walk plus anything else I have the energy for - I am living proof that some "desk jobs" take a ton out of you), and really watching the empty carbs, I have lost 70 pounds in about 8 months and kept it off through the past winter. I do not feel cheated in any way. I drink no soda, have very few sweets...and those I do are quality.

                                                                                                                            That's another key - spend a little more (even in this economy I have found excellent deals on supposedly foodie food, you have to know where to shop in your area), get a little less (ask yourself if you really need 10 pounds of something when 1 pound will do), and use the small amount you get wisely.

                                                                                                                            I have one more fun "rule" with the rising gas prices... I do weekly shopping with the car. Anything else I feel like during the week I take a walk to the store or Sunday farmer's market. I live in a city neighborhood, so this is easy for me.

                                                                                                                            I could piggy back on so many other comments above. I used to be afraid of breakfast, now that's where I get many of my daily carbs. If I could offer one point - DO BREAKFAST. I've found this one addition has regulated my body to tell me when I am hungry throughout the day. I graze very rarely.

                                                                                                                            Basically, I have become more aware of what/when/how much I eat. It's a process!

                                                                                                                            1. I just eat small small amounts at mealtimes only. also I drink a lot of water, tea etc., when I'm craving something. most of the time I'm not really hungry anyways, but thirsty.

                                                                                                                              I also run.

                                                                                                                              1. My doctor just advised me to put on ten pounds as fast as possible. IN MY DREAMS!

                                                                                                                                1. exercise and keeping desserts an occasional thing. easy breezy.

                                                                                                                                  1. I exercise A LOT. I usually walk/jog four days a week. I also eat light in the morning and evening, saving my "heavier" meal for the afternoon.

                                                                                                                                    1. That would be eat & drink in my case. I only have a small bowl of cereal in the morning, try to get a vigorous walk in each day (usually to work), often skip lunch, and then I relax and enjoy dinner. Portion control is also good. Not to say that I don't still battle with maintaining my weight....

                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: steinpilz

                                                                                                                                        I don't think of it as a battle, rather as a need to eat consciously (Which I think should always be a goal.) The first few bites of any dish always taste the best, so there's no real reason to eat lots more. One bite of a really good cheesecake does it for me. I think many of us just mindlessly eat what's put in front of us.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                          That's a very good point pikawicca, we all mostly grow up learning to finish what's on our plate... but rather late in life I learned this isn't the golden rule (over-indulging is gauche). I've recently been really enjoying a Japanese approach to meals which, as I understand it, is having many small (and flavourful) courses rather that a few heavy loads. While enjoying these small courses, I hadn't previously really considered that the first few bites are always the best

                                                                                                                                          1. re: steinpilz

                                                                                                                                            I find that, in high-end restos where one gets multi-course dinners, I satiate much faster... I used to think it was psychological, but I now believe it to be the pauses between courses. The courses themselves generally aren't large portions, so with the breaks your body has more time to feel full.

                                                                                                                                            It'd be a great way to eat at home -- and much, much cheaper!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: steinpilz

                                                                                                                                              When French chefs invented 20th Century Nouvelle Cuisine in the late 1960's they drew inspiration from Japanese & Chinese customs as well as the scientific theories about marginally diminishing returns... it is fairly well established that your appreciation for a particular dish starts waning after the 3rd bite.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                I always thought it pecular that when eating out I quickly tire of the food after just a few bites, even though I had great expectations.. Thanks EN!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                  This is a Japanese blogger who describes her daily meals, many courses and lots of fish, and also provides a bunch of good home-style recipes:


                                                                                                                                                  I enjoy reading this site daily, just like the news.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: steinpilz

                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for posting that link! it's a perfect introduction to Japanese home cooking, which seems to extract the most taste, visual appeal and health benefits from the simplest ingredients and techniques. There are many lessons there for us, one being how we need not so much a "diet" as a philosophy of minimalism and mindfulness. Now if this rain would just stop so I could go to Porter Square and stock up...

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cassis

                                                                                                                                                      You're welcome cassis, I just got back from the Porter Square Japanese store as a matter of fact.

                                                                                                                                        2. Wow! A lot of interesting stuff in this thread.

                                                                                                                                          I lost 20 pounds on the South Beach Diet a few years back and have kept about half of it off. My current weight is OK for my height but I'd love to lose a few pounds _ I just think I look better thinner. I rarely go to restaurants. Dinner most days is a big salad with a piece of whole grain bread, a poached egg or a small piece of meat and one glass of wine.

                                                                                                                                          1. I'm a dress size 6, and I had to work really hard to take off the pregnancy weight that had me in a size 12. I'm obsessed with good food, and my weakness includes all carbohydrates. One of my strategies is this: I almost never eat commercial baked goods, including bread. Forcing myself to actually make the cookies and breads I crave means that I can't pig out on them all day, every day, because I don't have time to bake everyday. I freeze whatever I can't finish. For some reason, the freezer is an effective barrier for me, because I often don't want to take the time to search for and defrost, say, a pastry that's lurking way in the back. I also try to have special nights (such as Friday Shabbat dinner) where I let myself eat whatever I want, including a second slice of cake.

                                                                                                                                            1. Exercise is the main thing that helps to keep my weight somewhat stable. When I am struggling with my thyroid issues it's often arbitrary what works and what doesn't work for keeping weight at bay. But regular exercise, especially cardio, drinking lots of water, filling up on veggies over fats and starches and knowing 'when to say when' and stop eating when I am full usually works for me. I also try and reserve a special treat once a week, and don't usually eat out more than once a week also.

                                                                                                                                              1. interesting thread. i'm glad you posted, daisyM! i'm having to watch what i eat for the first time, this year, because of the long hrs i spend at my desk, and this is what i've been slowly figuring out for myself:

                                                                                                                                                1. i walk a lot since i live in nyc. i also have a wonderful personal trainer in the form of a dog who is impossible to ignore in the morning, when he's ready to go for his run.

                                                                                                                                                2. i eat a protein-rich, medium sized breakfast (two or three egg omelette, generally, or an egg and a piece of fruit or fruit and whole-milk yogurt). go easy on lunch, in part so i won't get sleepy in the afternoon (it varies a lot, but some things i've had recently: chaat, a street vendor kebab, fruit smoothie, a few pieces of galbi beef with kimchee from a cart, one or two tekka maki; often, i just snack throughout the day as i get hungry, without eating a real lunch). and i have whatever i want for dinner, to the point of comfortable somnolence (not the uncomfortable waddling stage). i usually have dinner pretty late and go to sleep soon after, so i don't believe the no food after 5 p.m. thing at all.

                                                                                                                                                3. when i work very long hours at my desk, i don't eat a lot -- again, so i don't fall asleep.

                                                                                                                                                4. i eat out a lot, but almost always take home leftovers. i also have no qualms about just ordering an appetizer and a glass of wine if i don't want to deal with leftovers. when i cook at home for myself, it tends to be very simple: stirfries, homemade tacos, futomaki, soup, etc...

                                                                                                                                                5. i don't eat many sweets since i don't often like them. when i crave grease -- much more frequent an event! -- i allow myself to indulge in fries until i lose interest in the taste, which luckily does not usually involve a massive quantity. my biggest diet faux pas are too much grease and too much alcohol (on average a glass of wine or beer, or two oz of whiskey a day). i don't like the feeling of deprivation, so i don't have any off limit foods. but if i'm indulging in pork belly i try to eat only to the point where i am no longer in peak enjoyment zone, if that makes any sense.

                                                                                                                                                6. i find that certain heathy foods bring me as much or more pleasure as certain unhealthy foods: i.e. pho and nigiri are just about my favorite foods in the entire world, so i'll often choose to have these instead of foie gras, chopped liver, fried latkes, though i love these things, too.

                                                                                                                                                i'm two years from thirty. i guess i'll have to cut back on that stuff once my metabolism really goes on strike! or i might have to suck it up and start running marathons. don't think my dog will like that.

                                                                                                                                                1. Seriously Daisy, I'm sorry you think you need a hoist. I'm sure you are kidding if even just a bit. For me, it's WW's. Been doing it over a year and a half now, worked very well for me. I may not be typical though. Started at a size 10 jean, and now my jeans are '0'.
                                                                                                                                                  It's all about the portions/fat/eating at times of the day where you didn't use to think it was important, it is, lots of water, cut down on bad calories. I have.

                                                                                                                                                  For me, breakfast used to be something that wasn't important to me AT ALL. Now, I will admit that it's almost unnerving to know I may have to go without due to where I am at that time of day and it may not be offered to me or available. Even if it's fruit/yogurt/cereal/fat free milk/juice/black coffee, it's well worth starting my day with it.

                                                                                                                                                  Good luck to you, it's really nice to be comfortable with your weight no matter what the number is if it feels good on and to, you.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Everyone's comments and suggestions have been really helpful. Clearly I see that a big lifestyle change for me.....moving from the city (where I walked everywhere) to the 'burbs (where I drive everywhere) and making "real" dinners for my husband and stepdaughters (and eating it with them) has packed on the pounds. So, my dog is now getting more walks and I've joined a gym...but still I long for the days when I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted!

                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                                                                      We all long for the days when we could eat what we wanted, when we wanted. But, when I look back on those days, I did all kinds of exercise that I didn't even "count" as exercise. I didn't own a car and literally did walk everywhere, or, at least to the bus stop. I was also broke and portion control wasn't as much a matter of budgeting calories as it was budgeting dollars.

                                                                                                                                                      Good for you for joining a gym and get out more with your dog, but there's nothing wrong with cooking "real" dinners--in fact, I think cooking delicious, healthful meals for yourself (and your family) is key, but it does help to expand your repertoire of delicious, healthy meals ( and have a few "quick and easy meals in your back pocket, too, for those days when you're too tired too cook). I know it doesn't sound super-chowhoundish, but we rely on the crockpot a lot when we're super busy. We just throw everything in before we leave for work and we have a delicious meal waiting for us when we get home. There aren't a lot of pans to clean up and it's incredibly energy efficient. (Here's a hilarious blog from a gal who is cooking in her crockpot every day for a year. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/52473...). And it gives you time to go out and exercise. :). Again, maybe not super-chowhoundish, but we have a gas grill and it's quick and easy for summer nights. We grill everything, lean meats, veggies, potatoes, corn. Again, less clean-up and pretty quick.

                                                                                                                                                      I can't remember if I mentioned up-thread, but we've bought a pressure cooker to help speed up cooking whole grains (even a rice cooker would help!) and legumes and joined a CSA (do you have one close to you?) so we have a plentiful and varied supply of fresh vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                      If you live in the 'burbs where distances are too far to walk everywhere (and you have no sidewalks like some of the burbs in the Twin Cities), maybe you can start biking everywhere? Another thing I find really helps is getting in a half hour or even 20 minute walk over my lunch hour. Even around the block a couple of times. It doesn't sound like much, but it does add up!


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                        I just wanted to mention re: the crockpot--it is true that many, many crockpot recipes call for a can of Campbell's cream of ___________ soup. I avoid those like the plague. There is a smaller universe of crockpot recipes that you prepare from scratch--those are the ones to be on the look-out for. Also, on the recommendation of another 'hound, I bought a crockpot (I believe it's Rival's "versaware" or something along those lines) that is stovetop, oven (and microwave and dishwasher) safe. Again, saving time and dishes because you can brown your ingredients you use for the slow-cooking.


                                                                                                                                                      2. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                                                                        You can. You can have Dairy Queen/McDonalds/Taco Bell and spaghetti Bolognese, you can have everything you want. But pick only one and do it once a month. If you deprive your tastebuds, you'll fail. Also, if you are not 177% committed to losing weight for whatever your reason is, you won't stay with any plan. It's all timing, it's all the mad desire, it's all that size of jeans that you lust over.
                                                                                                                                                        Our daughter and her soon to be ex-husband did the dieting thing for a while because she and her husband were challanged by their best friends to do the online biggest loser battle that you sign up for. She would make batches of baked or broiled chicken breasts, then freeze them so they were go to. Also bought large CostCo sized bags of broccoli frozen and did huge batches of white rice in batches too then froze in zipper bags for go to quick meals. She wasn't tempted to cheat if it was right at her disposal to grab a frozen bag of this or that. All she did was pop in the nuker for a few minutes, let that rip, then on the plate it goes with lots of home made salsa for extra flavor.

                                                                                                                                                      3. Eat breakfast like a champion, then smaller meals as the day progresses. For me, breakfast is either oatmeal or some type of dairy (yogurt or cottage cheese) with fruits and nuts. Also, integrate as many fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet as possible. Try not to eat any processed foods. I eat excellent and tasty food all the time, but try and keep the portions under control. When not out, I use good sense at home.

                                                                                                                                                        Oh yeah and I run. An unfortunate amount. And walk 4 miles to and from work every day.

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gini

                                                                                                                                                          Boy gini, that's great your walk everyday.
                                                                                                                                                          I heard once that you:
                                                                                                                                                          Eat breakfast like a King
                                                                                                                                                          Eat lunch like a Queen
                                                                                                                                                          Eat dinner like a Prince

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                            In Germany, the saying is

                                                                                                                                                            "Eat breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dinner like a pauper."

                                                                                                                                                            I'm great with the first two parts, as I tend to combine breakfast & lunch (ok, I'm a late sleeper and don't tend to eat before 11 a.m. or even 12 or 1 p.m.).

                                                                                                                                                            But dinner is *the* meal of the day for me, so it's generally not the smallest meal of the day...

                                                                                                                                                            And of course, like any woman over the age of 13 (11? 10?) I _need_ to lose 10 lbs. Ha!

                                                                                                                                                        2. Switch to a metric only scale. It feels much better to only weigh 90 kg. than than 185 lbs.!

                                                                                                                                                          1. Exercise-I have 2 dogs that love, & need, daily walks. I try to maintain a personal policy of not eating anything unless it's the best of what it could be-for example, no muffin at the staff meeting because it came in a case of 24 from the wholesaler. I've learned to appreciate the flavor of really great steamed vegetables. And, though it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, the longer I can put off eating in the day, the less I eat overall-no breakfast ever.

                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Josie

                                                                                                                                                              Thank you for saying that you don't eat breakfast. I can't even count how many times I hear "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" when I say I don't eat breakfast. My body is just not ready to eat in the morning. I will drink my coffee and then I am ready for an early lunch, which is usually a salad with a protein. Even on the weekends, I am not ready to eat breakfast until 10 or 11.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                                                                                                                                By 10am, I've not only eaten breakfast, I'm ready for my mid-morning snack! I'm a morning exerciser, though. Maybe that makes a difference?


                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                  I don't think so - I run every morning at 6 and rarely eat before 10am. I think it's just how your body wants food - mine wants it later, but plenty of people wake up hungry.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gini

                                                                                                                                                                    That sounds really strange to me - I'm always really hungry after my morning workouts. But if it works for you, then more power to you.

                                                                                                                                                                    There's been a bunch of stuff written lately about recovery foods and drinks post-workout, and it turns out that my old standby of PB&J is pretty good - refuels the muscles so they have plenty of energy for the next day's workout. Not too heavy, but satisfying.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bat Guano

                                                                                                                                                                      yeah I'm an almond butter & jam sandwich kinda girl as well.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: NE_Elaine

                                                                                                                                                                  I spent most of my teenage & adult life with a "breakfast" that consisted mainly of coffee. Later, add cigarettes and mints = great combination.

                                                                                                                                                                  Like you, NE, I am generally not hungry for at least a few hours after waking up. Where should all that hunger come from anyway, after sleeping all night? '-)

                                                                                                                                                                  I DO like having a nice German-style breakfast some hours after I've gotten up, which tends to include fresh rolls, cheese & cold cuts, and often a soft-boiled egg.

                                                                                                                                                                  In the US, it's generally some type of bread with ham, cheese, and a fried egg on top. Mind you, having this as late as 12 or 1 pm, it is bound to last until dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                  My mother, otoh, basically doesn't eat until the evening, with her days sometimes including two hours of tennis out in the sun (I would collapse), a whole day of work, etc. etc. She is 61, and regardless of what I tell her about 'running on empty', she refuses to eat "breakfast". I am guessing if I called it mid-morning snack or lunch it would be a different story ----

                                                                                                                                                              2. I'm in my eight month of dieting (I've lost 55lbs) and I'm hardly deprived... the big secret is portion control - you can eat anything you like as long as you make sure that you don't eat too much of it! And balance the carbs/starches/fats with lovely fresh vegetables etc. I cut way back on my starches, but I still eat them, just in smaller amounts (1/2 cup mashed potato instead of 2 cups etc.)
                                                                                                                                                                Exercise of some kind EVERY day... the more you move, the higher your metabolism will be, and the more you get to eat. :) I keep track of both the exercise and the calories online so that I can keep them in balance. I love the caloriecounter.com website and 'mapmywalk.com'.