Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A new kind of weight loss idea...

I have to go on a diet. I don't want to. Not because I don't want to lose weight, not even because I object to reducing my caloric intake...I don't want to because I know what I will be expected to eat and I don't want to eat it.

Margarine is gross...it feels disgusting on the tongue, and tastes like grease. I won't be giving up butter.

"Diet" or "diabetic" ice cream is like eating frozen skim milk...almost as disgusting as margarine.

I'm not willing to fill my plate with veggies I hate...and there are a few that fit that category which dietitians and other people who invent recipes for dieters seem to hold in high esteem. No kind of yellow squash crosses these lips unless it has been made into a pie...like a pumpkin pie...which totally kills the diet. No kind of bell pepper, regardless of colour, gains entry to this body. I will spend half an hour picking them out of my chow mein or off my pizza or hunting them down in a salad and discarding them...so these recipe inventors who mistakenly think that "colourful" food somehow makes up for overwhelming, meal-dominating flavour can count me out. Spinach and other leafy greens? Only in salads, my friend...and then only spinach. Ever eaten chard? High on the disgusting list, whether raw or cooked into stringy slime.

I am also choosy about the meats I eat. No mutton, thank you, very little lamb, and fish must be avoided unless it is salmon or trout, and then in small quantities only. No organ meats...none, zero, zip, nada. If it ain't a muscle meat from a chicken, turkey, pig, or cow, feed it to someone else. No meat fat---augh! gross!!---bacon should be fried crisp or left on the pig.

You may be getting the picture here...at my advanced age I have some seriously entrenched food likes and dislikes and I'm not up for changing them...poached eggs vs those scrambled in butter? I do not think so! (Unless I put some butter on them when they hit the plate!)

So, given that I'm not very open to changing certain aspects of my diet and I do have to lose some weight, what is the solution? Portion control.

Now, by this I do not advocate the lame current concept of starvation by choosing portion sizes so small they don't qualify as a respectable snack. Two days on the currently trendy portion control diet and I would be eating the wall paper in desperation. One serving of red meat every ten days, and the serving is as big as my palm and as thick as my little finger?? Not bloody likely!! No, instead of taking arbitrary measures of foods and imposing them on people who may have been eating several times that amount (which will definitely leave them feeling deprived and hungry), my idea is to start with your own portions of the foods you normally eat and simply reduce those portions. There is a bit more to it than that, but that is the essence of it: eat whatever you normally eat, just less of it. And if you eat less food, you will lose weight. Not rapidly, perhaps, but it will come down...and it will come down without you feeling like you can never eat cheesecake again!

So here are the basics: you need just a few tools: a scale to weigh yourself on; a scale (electronic, set to weigh in grams) for weighing food; a notebook and pen, and for the arithmetic challenged, a calculator. That is it.

Start with weighing yourself: in the notebook write down the date and your weight. Leave the rest of the page blank for now, as you will record subsequent weights here. (If you are bashful about a scale, an alternative is to measure yourself where you think you are the fattest: waist, hips, thighs...and record those numbers. I don't like scales and I can tell if I am losing or gaining weight by how my jeans fit around my middle and bum.)

Now, the next time you want to eat something, go to your food scale. Put the portion you would normally eat on the scale and weigh it. Write that in your notebook; now, calculate half that amount and write that next to your normal amount. Put half of the serving back and you can eat the other half. It doesn't matter what the food is: butter for your toast (one slice instead of two), ice cream, chips...whatever it is, measure out your normal portion then put half of it back. Exception: if the food is something you ordinarily will have second helpings of, like mashed potatoes or chili or spaghetti, take your normal portion and skip the seconds. Next time you want a food, you need only look in your notebook to see what the appropriate serving for you is because you have already calculated it.

This rule applies to virtually everything you put into your mouth: sauces, dressings, oil in the pan to cook something, gravies, jams and jellies, desserts, snacks, dips...if it goes into your mouth, the 50% rule applies. Exceptions: low cal veggies: you can have all the carrots, beets, green beans, celery, tomatoes you want...but only half the sauce, condiments, butter that you usually use. Fruits, however, because they contain sugar, fall under the 50% rule, as do starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, yellow squashes.

You cannot eat more frequently than before...that just shifts the time you eat and allows you to eat the same amount of food instead of reducing it. You can have three meals and three snacks daily, but your intake must be half of your previous intake. If you find this too stringent in the beginning, then calculate 1/3 and put that back, eating 2/3 of your normal intake.

This means you can't eat out much at first because you have to weigh things for a while to start getting an idea of what a "normal" portion is for you and how much of it to leave behind. My own plan is to simply eat half of what is served at the restaurant, take the other half home and have it for lunch the next day. Same with desserts: you can have desserts but just don't eat the whole thing. Share with someone else or eat half and take the other half home for a snack the following day.

I plan to follow this eating plan for six weeks and then check my measurements. If I am not happy with my weight loss after that time, I will reduce my portions further, perhaps cut out some things. As it is, I am not a big bread, cake, or cookie eater, and I have cut candies of all kinds from my diet for now. I drink sugar-free drinks and use sweetener in my tea with 2% milk. These reduce caloric intake, but I can reduce it further without feeling deprived.

And that, I think is one of the significant causes of weight-loss failure: people find their eating taken over by strangers who have no concept of (or respect for) their food likes and dislikes and suddenly feel deprived. There is nothing like feeling deprived of something to make you want it! By allowing people to continue to eat their preferred foods (but in reduced quantities), the chances of losing weight, I think, will go up.

For those who are ready to jump in here with the "healthy eating" noise: shut up. I think trying to do too much at one time is another reason so many people fail at weight loss. The time to change what you eat is after you have learned to change how much you eat. Once your stomach has shrunk to be accustomed to smaller meals and some success greets the dieter in the mirror, healthier alternatives can be introduced. But to tell someone who is struggling to drop some poundage that she must give up not only satiety but comforting, familiar tastes as well...well, I think that is just too much for some of us! Do not expect me to give up my butter---you will be disappointed!

So, who's with me on this? Anybody wanna be a guinea pig and give a revolutionary new concept in weight loss a try? You have nothing to lose but some unwanted poundage!


  1. I think this is an excellent plan, and one I've been working on. However if I don't ask for the To-Go box at the beginning of the restaurant meal, I can mindlessly keep munching.

    Also, have you read "Eat Right for your Type?" It suggests that one's blood type and ethnic heritage tolerates some foods better than others. It's not at all restrictive, but does suggest that one eat what one's ancestors (of a gazillion years ago) ate. It explained why I've never digested corn well in spite of how much I liked it.

  2. Sory I didn't sign the previous post, SV - it's Norine here :-).

  3. I have been tracking my food for a long time, and while I may have the occasional ice cream or pizza my eating habits are LOTS of fruit and veggies etc, little bread or butter, nary any snacks and never fast foods. Trouble is my body wants to be this size. I walk daily too. Sometimes it isn't a matter of overeating, or unhealthy eating. I am coming to terms with it, sigh!

  4. Good plan BUT:
    Don't ever eat under your Basal Metabolic Rate. This will cause your body to go into 'starvation mode' and it will then start storing fat because you are in a 'famine' (or so your body believes.)

    A second thing - do supplement with some exercise. You can use the same principle as you do with your food but instead of HALVING you can DOUBLE your exercise!

    There is only one guaranteed way to keep weight off - EAT LESS. MOVE MORE. :)

    Good luck! (I have lost 16.3 kgs since April using the simple rule of eat less, move more.)


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