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Confused about Eating on a Diet

I am confused about what one is actually eating when on a diet and how this differs from eating when not on a diet. So many articles I read talk about sticking to healthy choices and how food brought into offices, such as bagel Fridays, or pizza lunches makes it difficult for people to stick to their diets. I consider myself to be on a lifestyle diet, exercise frequently, eat tons of fruits and vegetables but also frequently have bagels and pizza. What do you change when you go on a diet? What are you eating to maintain it?

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  1. The only time I actively "dieted" (as in following a strict calorie and ingredient plan) was the year I decided to follow the same NCEP diet that the subjects participating in the clinical trial I managed had to do for 28 weeks. Now I know why so few patients manage to stick to it.

    I consume a wide variety of things, understand portion sizes, and generally prepare and eat smaller quantities of higher-quality ingredients than larger quantities of pre-processed foodstuffs. However I don't obsess if I'm staring down at something like a bowl of Chef Boyardee mini-ravioli or a bagel. Physical activity does wonders too.

    1. The answer to this question will vary by person. Technically a diet is what you eat but I think we all understand what people are implying when they say they are "on a diet" however what exactly they are trying to eat while on a diet presumably to lose weight is different probably for every single person. My usual diet is a very low carb, high protein diet and has been for decades. It's the way I have always been and my body runs best that way so for me it's often not a choice but I will choose meat over carbs nearly 9.9/10. It's frustrating when some assume I'm on a low carb weight-reducing diet ala Atkins and I have to explain that it's just my diet.

      15 Replies
      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Agree with this. So different from person to person. What I might consider "dieting" might seem indulgent to another person even.

        IMO the best way to eat (dieting included) is with the "everything in moderation" mentality. At least as far as the different food groups are concerned. I really don't understand the whole "I'll NEVER eat starchy carbs" or "I'll NEVER eat sugar" thing, unless it's done out of necessity due to food allergies or serious health concerns. Or, of course, vegetarians/vegans who completely avoid meat/animal products. That one I get.

        My best friend is constantly doing "no carb" diets. She will very quickly lose 10-15 lbs. but obsesses about starches the whole time and is fairly miserable. After a few weeks, she'll go back to eating carbs and she'll gain back the 15 and sometimes more. I've been watching her do this for a long time and it seems kind of awful.

        Unless you're like fldhkybnva and simply gravitate toward a low carb, high protein diet, then all the power to ya! I just think when we deprive ourselves of the things we want the most, it doesn't necessarily help to curb the craving, and often (in the case of food) only makes that craving worse.

        Life is too short to eat sh*tty food.

        1. re: nothingswrong

          "My best friend is constantly doing "no carb" diets. She will very quickly lose 10-15 lbs. but obsesses about starches the whole time and is fairly miserable. After a few weeks, she'll go back to eating carbs and she'll gain back the 15 and sometimes more. I've been watching her do this for a long time and it seems kind of awful."

          Exactly! I always stress to others that my diet is my body's choice and not my conscious choice and that it does not work for everyone because most people thrive on carbs and it's very hard for them to limit them. However, it's also annoying because I do enjoy and indulge in some carbs on occassion I just have a lower satiation threshold. When I do I have to deal with comments of "oh, I thought you were on the low carb diet." To which I respond, "I'm not on any diet, today my body would like carbs, I would like this piece of pizza and that slice of cake so I'm going to eat it. Most likely I will have had enough of carbs after that and really want some meat and veg." It's amazing how confused they look as if I'm breaking the rules but for me there aren't really any rules. So yes, if I'm craving Cheetos, I eat them but the amount needed to make me full and to make me sick of them is probably is lower than others but doesn't mean I don't eat them. Same with ice cream. I definitely eat ice cream but after 4 bites I've had enough. I can't imagine why this is so confusing to others. I've learned that if I eat more just for the sake of doing it, I don't feel well.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            Yep, me! I thrive on carbs. I've done very low carb diets before (back when I used to diet) and it never worked for me. I was never satisfied. I went out to dinner last night. I think I had 5 pieces of bread before the meal, along with fries to go with my crab cake sandwich. :)

            1. re: SaraAshley

              Beautiful, when I go out I don't count. There are no calories on food at restaurants, right?

              1. re: treb

                And there are no calories on the road, either.

                I've got dozens of these! Did you know that if you break a cookie in half before you eat it, all the calories leak out?

                1. re: treb

                  Not in my world! :D but if I were to go out every day, I think they'd start to appear.

              2. re: fldhkybnva

                That makes sense to me. My boyfriend calls it just "being in tune with your body." He's like this too. Half the time he eats my cookies and pastries or will stop for McDonald's or a slice of pizza for dinner, and the other half the time you couldn't pay him a million bucks to eat anything but greens and kale salads. He will tell me "My body needs something healthy today" and he'll eat fruit and carrots for several hours and feel great.

                He has this whole theory about our bodies needing certain foods at certain times, that one diet never fits all, etc. He likes to talk about this a lot, lol. But I do get what he's saying and where he's coming from.

                I think you are lucky in that you can satisfy your craving in a few bites. I'm usually the same way. I don't think most people have that--if they go out to the store to get a box of cookies, they have to eat several servings to satisfy the craving.

                P.S. Cheetos rule.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Several years ago, I bought a book by David Kessler, the former commissioner of the FDA. Turns out he's been struggling with weight/overeating all his life. About 2 pages in, he was talking about giving in to temptation and eating A cookie. A single cookie.

                  I still have the book and I've tried to read it several times but I've never been able to get past that paragraph. That's not a food problem to someone who can inhale an entire package of Pepperidge Farm cookies.

                  I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person. I just don't do moderation very well. Much easier for me to not start than to stop. I guess that gives credence to the addiction theory.

                  1. re: Just Visiting

                    "About 2 pages in, he was talking about giving in to temptation and eating A cookie. A single cookie."

                    This. It drives me nuts. I had a very close girl friend I've known since kindergarten... A couple years ago she began obsessing about food, calories, sugar, fats, etc. She'd entered eating disorder territory. All she would call me to chat about was food. How she "SOOOO WANTS TO EAT A COOKIE BUT OMG I'LL GET FAT."

                    It was like that all the time. This is an Ivy League educated woman... I just couldn't take it anymore. I spent several months dodging calls and occasionally urging her to seek help but she just didn't get it. It was unfortunate but I felt like I had to end a 20+ year friendship over this.

                    And yes, I told her often to just "eat the f*cking cookie."

                    1. re: nothingswrong

                      As long it is maybe once a week, I'll have a cookie or two, or maybe a scoop of ice cream. I drink soda maybe twice a week.

                      1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                        Interesting, I get a craving to eat some ice cream about once every 3 months. The thing is I'll eat it knowing I'm going to get sick as a dog, a lactose thing, then be satisfied. Although, my guts need to recover for at least two days.

                        1. re: treb

                          Just keep some Lactaid pills around for those occasions.

                          1. re: kitchengardengal

                            Lol, yes, this.

                            Although I was very lactose intolerant from age 13 to my mid-20s, and Lactaid didn't necessarily help. It would help with some of the cramping, but not with the *ahem* other side effects.

                            The other obvious option would be non-dairy ice creams. I never particularly liked the soy-based ones, though Tofutti Cuties (the little ice cream sandwiches) are really good. I know people who eat them voluntarily over cow-based ice creams.

                            Rice, almond, and coconut-based ice creams are superior IMO.

                            And the BEST non-dairy ice cream substitute I ever found in 10+ years of testing was Haagen Dazs Chocolate Sorbet. It is so rich and to me, very creamy. There were a couple years where I'd eat a scoop on a sugar cone every single night after dinner. If you ever see it in the grocery store, give it a try.

                             
                            1. re: nothingswrong

                              I'm non-dairy as well (small tastes, fine, bowl of ice cream = problem)
                              And Coconut Bliss ice cream is my weakness.....i swear its better than regular ice cream! And if you can find talenti gelato brand their blood orange sorbetto is to die for.

                              1. re: Ttrockwood

                                I will look out for the blood orange sorbetto. That sounds delicious!

                                I somehow "outgrew" my severe lactose intolerance. Today I can do small amounts of dairy but a bowl of ice cream, a milkshake, or heavy cream sauces would kill me.

                                I can do some whipped cream if eaten with something bready (like with a cake). Or some lower-moisture cheese with crackers. Something about eating it with starch seems to sit better (???).

                                My gastroenterologist is lactose intolerant and told me that good aged cheddars are naturally low enough in lactose that they pose no problem. I haven't had the balls to try it, but just passing the info along :)

            2. I'm not a big fan of "dieting" because that implies you are just doing it temporarily. Which I guess you are to lose the weight. When I decided to make a lifestyle change and lose weight, I restricted calories.... not to a crazy amount... 1200-1300 at first, then 1400-1500 a bit later on. For me to maintain my weight (not lose, not gain), I'm in the 1900-2000 calorie range, not counting exercise.

              While in "weight loss mode", I didn't cut out much, but weekly pizza lunches weren't really an option if I wanted to lose at the rate I wanted to lose at. Now that I'm maintaining where I'm at (well at the moment trying to lose the few pounds I gained over the holidays, but not in any hurry), things like pizza and bagels are fine to eat occasionally.

              If you think of it like a bank account... when you're "saving up" for something, you can't spend as much, right? But once you've saved up what you want, you can spend a bit more again. Exercise is sort of like having a second source of income... gives you more money to spend. So if you exercise a lot, you can eat more things like pizza or bagels or whatever.

              ETA: People who approach losing weight as a temporary thing, are the ones who gain it back. They try these crazy restricted diets, lose what they want, but when they got back to a normal lifestyle, they gain it all again.

              1. I don't eat anything differently on a diet- except I do try to eat more of those pesky fruits and vegetables.

                It's all about calorie control for me and I swap out things that don't "add" any pleasure or nutrition to the meal, like a protein style burger instead of regular. But it's not about carbs, it's just about how little flavor a plain bun adds. I still have fries. :D

                2 Replies
                1. re: WishyFish

                  I do try not to eat a ton of carbs. I rally watch my bread and pasta intake. I eat white carbs some, but try to watch. They make me gain weight.

                  1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                    refined grains are trash, really.

                2. I don't "diet" and I pretty much eat what I want, as in no food is off limits, but I count my calories the best I can, and try to keep myself at 1200 a day, not including any alcoholic beverages I may consume. Some days I might go a little over, some days I might be a little under, but I feel even trying to adhere to a certain limited number of calories a day makes you much more mindful of what you're eating, so you end up eating less and better regardless. I have my days where I know I'm definitely going over and don't even try to count (holidays, special dinners out, etc) but I let myself enjoy these times and don't worry about it since they're not an everyday occurrence. It's all about moderation.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: SaraAshley

                    Oddly enough, moderate alcohol consumption helps me lose weight. When I don't drink, I gain. So strange.

                    1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                      Very interesting. I will say in the past year I have definitely increased my alcohol consumption, but decreased my food consumption, and I've lost 10lbs.