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Dec 28, 2008 10:41 PM

Eating better/losing weight?

This came up as a popular goal for 2009. And some have said they accomplished it in 2008.

If losing weight while eating better is part of your plan, why not let us know who might be interested in working on it together.

If you already have, how about sharing what worked for you and what the pitfalls were.

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  1. I did the whole using food to lose weight summer of 2008. Lost about 25 pounds and ready to lose another ten so I would love to be apart of this. I made a few food rules that I will share but by no means do i expect anyone to follow my personal rules just posting them to give an insight on how i made eating and weight loss work for me.
    1. I would not give up anything meaning simply I would not say not to particular foods just because they had calories deemed to high including liquor and dessert. I am too self indulgent and liked it that way.
    2.I refused to use low fat, fat free or any low cal substitutes instead opting to find things I would normally use. I did join WW to learn their process and when I mentioned on the board my refusal to use lowfat products I was told they would rather have 4 fat-free tablespoons of sour cream than 1 tablespoon of whole fat. I knew I was in trouble then and just tried to learn the science.
    3. Meal planning ahead whenever possible particularly cooking a few choices on the weekend to mix and match often left me able to have my glass of wine and dessert too nightly.
    There are a lot of little things to go along with the losing weight thing that will help a food lover in my opinion Such as knowing you CAN eat, that was my biggest worry and once I learned the science of food and calories things changed quickly. An example was using honey and maple syrup with cinnamon to sweeten my oatmeal as opposed to just plain sugar. Quantity of those trouble ingredients come into play here too:honey imparts more flavor than say sugar so I could use a half tablespoon as opposed to 3 tablespoons of sugar, no idea about that splenda stuff, too scary for me or another example is just using less oil as we cook. We are all used to just eyeballing the oil before we saute something, try to use less than you normally would, 1 tablespoon less of oil does make a difference in caloric intake for the day but probably not that much in flavor which brings me to my next point.
    Choosing sides and toppings wisely made huge differences. Ultimately being in control of what you eat as in preparing your food yourself I think is the best tip as you know hey if my chicken is seasoned the way I like it I don't need a crazy fattening sauce everyday. Pick a marinade combo you like, I used mango chutney as a base for a lot of marinades. And spices are free such as curry and paprika but keep in mind to be easy with the salt, spices are there to do some of the heavy lifting in the flavor department so salt can be moderate. Some of the best veggies dishes are when just their flavor shines through and i have a ton of them if anyone is interested.
    For most of the summer I was on a 5-6 meal a day plan to make sure I was eating enough. I was totally not used to eating that much regularly as breakfast was a whispered rumor to me let alone an after breakfast snack and you really have to consume enough calories to make your body burn some. Kind of crazy but the truth is the whole starvation method really does not work and not fun either. I found with a solid morning foundation I was able to keep on track and eat what I felt like because you naturally end up eating smaller portions when you eat so many times throughout the day. Mostly my after breakfast and after lunch snack would be a variety of cut up fruits and variety really worked to stop craving sweet things and if I did, eating something decadent would be ok because I was eating healthy everyday.
    Another thing I did was look at my healthy eating/ weight loss as a game to see how i could get the most bang for my buck so to speak or most tasty food for the amount of calories I needed to take in. I would take peeks on the WW or other diet message boards read how they had water soup for lunch but a bag of funions as their snack( which I really don't get why have horrible snacks and then say your are starving) and giggle as i had hamburgers with buns and toppings plus my fruit snack. The difference was I made my burger so I portioned the size, I added my toppings and I never went hungry or deprived after all I am a chowhounder I could not do that to myself. Sorry to write so much, I hope my tips were/are useful, I just went through it so I guess I felt I had a lot to share.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kayEx

      Sounds like you've got it nailed!

      My own plan -- which I made up myself and did unguided -- was much like that. I had what I was used to eating except that I eliminated salt, sugar, artificial ingredients and all junk food including most restaurant meals. I managed to lose 40 pounds.

      Slowly, salt and artificial sweeteners crept back into my diet. They didn't do too much damage and I managed to lose half a pound to a pound and a half most weeks. But then the holidays hit. =o I did OK over Thanksgiving enjoying our feast in much smaller quantities and only gaining, losing and regaining a pound or two at a time. Once Christmas came and I had the goodies out for everyone else, I just couldn't hold the line. I had all kinds of naughties and my cravings for simple carbs returned with a vengeance accompanied by 10 pounds that I'm having to lose all over again.

      As far as losing it all over again goes, I'm onboard for that and considering it part of this whole process. I just want to get back on the right side of it.

      Glad to have your company and input.

    2. I, too, did the Weight Watchers thing in 2008. WW used to have two plans, one called flex where you counted the points and another called "core" where you focused on eating (only to satisfaction, i.e., not stuffing yourself) lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, "healthy" fats (e.,g. olive oil) , and nonfat dairy without counting. I followed core and saw some wonderful results (in weight loss, yes, but also in overall improved energy and better skin, etc.) and, except for the non-fat dairy (I usually opt for low-fat dairy, which, unlike the previous poster, I don't mind), felt like it was pretty consistent with common sense eating habits and an overall healthy lifestyle. And, of course, regular exercise has to be part of whatever approach you decide to pursue. For 2009, WW has merged the two plans and are trying to steer EVERYONE (even those counting "points") towards eating more what they call "filling foods", e.g., lean meats, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables and nonfat dairy (they give you a small allowance for "treats" every week that I typically spent on upgrading from nonfat to lowfat dairy).

      For me, my biggest issue was eating out too much because I was either tired or didn't think what I cooked at home was flavorful enough. So, I've really focused on developing some skills in the kitchen in 2008. I learned to can and use a pressure cooker I experimented with grains and proteins I'd barely ever heard of; some I loved, some I said "no thank you" to.

      Some great books are Sally Schneider's "A New Way to Cook", Mayo Clinic's New Cookbook, Peter Berley's Flexitarian Table (though, you still have to watch the fat quantities) and Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking (or her website ). And, actually, some of the WW cookbooks aren't bad either, though, I've gotten in the habit of doubling the spice in every one of their recipes as I find them a little bland otherwise.

      I've also learned that I can indulge in a small amount of dark chocolate, or a glass of wine, or a bit of cheese, but that I really can only afford to indulge in one of those a day. I seem to have a feast or famine/all or nothing kind of personality that isn't very helpful at times. And, yes, I've tried to steer myself towards choosing foods and spices (honey vs. sugar that the previous poster mentioned is a good example) that are as flavorful as possible so I don't feel deprived.

      I bought some nice Swiss Diamond nonstick pans, an immersion blender, a pressure cooker, a pressure canner, silpat baking sheets, and learned how to use them. ;-) I joined a CSA.

      As far as pitfalls, well, I really needed to overcome my all or nothing mentality. Because when I'm "good" and stay "good" for extended periods of time, I start to feel deprived. I'm starting to realize that I'm not just going to be on a diet, lose a bunch of weight, and return to normal, but that these are habits I need to incorporate into my way of living forever. If I eat healthy most of the time, and indulge once in awhile, and keep active, I can continue with my Chowhoundly ways.

      Good luck to you! As far as would I be interested in working on it together, I am always interested in hearing about delicious ways of eating more healthy and would love to read about everyone's healthy recipe finds here on the home cooking board!


      1 Reply
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Thanks for the book and site recs.

        I am sooooo with you on the feast of famine thing! It's part of my personality and, even more, it's part of my physiology because when I have certain things which include the "healthy" whole grains I am like an alcoholic. It's problematical because not only do I *love* those grains, but they are usually cited as important nutritional needs and useful "filler" foods.

        Also with you on the "rest of my life" thing and, since I'm in my 60s now, it's also got to be a permanent adjustment to a changing metabolism that will be moving into low gear more and more.

      2. It's better to get over the concept of good versus bad foods and instead deal directly with portion control by measuring - weighing, especially - until you become a very good judge by eye (with occasional help from measuring). A food diary - there are many electronic ones with good food databases to which you can add your own information, such as Calorie King - is also very helpful. I've kept one for years. After many months, you may only need to enter your meals for the first half of the day in order to budget for the second half, et cet.

        That said, don't get overhooked on data and numbers. Understand that metabolisms are individual and can vary seasonally. You can have a slow metabolism that tests perfectly "normal" endocrinologically (on I will spare you details of my own history in that regard). Most information is merely based averages, and not every body fits averages. Don't pathologize your body.

        Get a healthy amount exercise to the best of your abilities.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karl S

          Good thoughts. I'll check out Calorie King.

        2. I've been using Calorie King as a food tracker since June. I have lost a fair amount of weight (76 lbs), and started cooking again more towards the end of Summer. Since mid-september, I've been cooking a lot. I find that I don't eat out as much if I cook - and what I cook ends up being considerably more healthy..

          CK & WW are two systems I see mentioned - they're rather similar. One thing that I like about CK over WW is that I've actually learned what the calories are to various foods - not just some point value. The general gist behind CK isn't so much a 'diet', but more of a lifestyle change - eating better, getting more exercise, and keeping track of it all. CK has 'Calorie King University' in which they talk about poor eating habits, good eating habits, and the ideas of why one overeats. The life style change aspect of CK (And probably WW) is important - you probably didn't get overweight overnight, you're not going to get thin overnight, either.

          If you do decide to use a food diary - I highly recommend that you start keeping track, and just do that for a few weeks. It's a pretty quick way to identify parts of your diet that are especially bad. After you've done that, slowly start modifying your diet changing or removing the foods you decide are bad. If you change everything at once, you'll most likely end up getting discouraged and stop. If you do it over some time, then it'll be less painful.

          My general theory about eating is eating at least 4 food groups in a meal. With some whole grains. And a lot of vegetables. Perhaps different types of vegetables. I still eat meat - I just have a lot of vegetables to go with it. As an example, I'll cook a chicken breast, and have some sauteed spinach and a cup of brown rice as dinner. The spinach will be about 2 cups worth cooked.

          I'm not anti low-fat items, I just prefer to pick my battles. As an example, I'm not a milk fan, so having 1% or 2% milk on my cereal isn't that big of a deal for me. I'd rather have those calories to use elsewhere.

          I'm also for good quality and fresh ingredients. I've been trying out various Jamie Oliver recipes, and beyond those things, his recipes also tend to be pretty simple. Just with a nice combination of foods.

          Finally, there's the completely non-cooking aspect of things. The exercise aspect. With the CK program, they allow you to 'eat back' your exercise calories. So, say, if you exercise 400 calories in a day, you can eat those back. I live in NYC and walk partially to work, so that gives me about 550 calories a day extra to play with. I don't eat it back every day, but it's always there. While exercise isn't a requirement, even something as simple as walking for 30 minutes at lunch can make a huge difference.

          I've decided to get better at cooking and do more exploring and cooking different types of food. I've signed up for a class at the Institute of Culinary Education (The Fine Cooking 1 class). While I'm already an okay cook, i hope this will improve my skills and give me some other ideas to try out.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mortini

            it's also worth pointing out as far as exercise goes that there's a number of non-gym ways to do this. Personally, i hate the whole idea of going to a Gym. But, there's a 'Couch to 5k' program, wherein you work up to running 5k. There's a '100 pushups' program, where you work up to doing 100 pushups. There's probably others out there, but they're an easy way to gradually build on doing some regular exercise.

            1. re: mortini

              "Fair amount of weight"? 76 pounds since June is AWESOME!!!

              I managed about 45 pounds since the end of July but then put 10 back on between Thanksgiving and now.

              Somewhere along the line I started exercising too. I found the right gym for me and I do water stuff including aerobic and pilates work as well as some weights and cardio stuff. Of course, I missed about 3 weeks of that getting ready for Christmas and have to push myself back into that groove too. ;>

            2. portion control beats cutting out foods you love, and you are more likely to stick with it