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Food Choices

Your Diet. Now to the right is actually MY diet. What you choose to eat may be significantly different. What is important is that you don't get too creative with your substitutes for what you set out to eat. If you are going to have a plain chicken breast, well don't let yourself substitute chicken salad, which can be significantly higher in calories. (See On Honesty.)

What my diet does is give you a few very simple choices during the day. This is on the same principle as the Slimfast diet, where you have "a shake for breakfast, another for lunch, and a sensible dinner." I find this diet to be satisfying and easy to follow.

What I eat:


  • Bowl of cereal with skim milk                       Glass of orange juice


  • Bowl of cereal with skim milk
  • Glass of water or skim milk if you wish


  • Half a bowl of some crunchy Chex-type cereal


  • Eat normal food, within the parameters below.

Limit your fatty choices. Don't cut out foods that you like, but instead of two hands full of potato chips, take *two chips* and really enjoy them.  Try bread with no butter, or with half the butter. Or, better yet, just eat half of the roll!

Don't count calories; don't even think about that. Eat nutritious food because you are feeding your body. Go very easy on sugar. One thing that this weight-maintenance plan does is it will help you to curb your craving for sweets. Help yourself along.

Toward this end, while you are losing weight, try to have no more than one or two major desserts a week. By major, I mean a Junior Blizzard at Dairy Queen with 3 candy mix-ins or a hot-fudge sundae, small with nuts, that sort of thing. Moderation is the key here. Don't get something huge, even if you are used to doing that.

Get used to ordering "child's" meals and Junior sizes. If a whole cookie is good, a quarter of a cookie is better. Take a bite and taste it... really taste it. Then don't eat the rest just out of habit.

If it isn't available, you can't eat it. Here is another no-brainer. I'm really not assuming total idiocy on the part of my readers. But you need to keep this in mind when you are shopping for groceries.

I read once that a person would do well to just shop around the perimeter of the grocery store, avoiding the inner aisles. In this way you miss the prepared foods in favor of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, bread, and dairy. I guess there is something to be said for this, but it is hard to avoid convenience foods if you live a busy life like most of us.

If you have some personal weakness, whether candy, cookies, ice cream, pie, or nuts, and you feel that you must have some around, do not indulge this every time you shop. Also, when you do buy a "forbidden food," don't just sneak it into the cart; make a production of buying it! Choose carefully, reading labels. (If there are two brands and one is lower in calories per equal sized serving, other things being equal, take the lower-calorie choice.)

Never skimp on quality here! If you are determined to have brownies, go to the best bakery for them; don't go for cheap! 

There are certain foods, though, that you should not buy. I will not say to never eat them, but the temptation presented by having them around the house is just not good. I'm talking about "junk sugar" like Crunch & Munch, and "junk fat" like mixed nuts or potato chips. You can still have these things, but this will be in moderation at parties or other gatherings where you didn't buy them. :) 

An up-side to doing this: junk sugar and junk fat is particularly expensive.

When you do buy a "forbidden food," don't just sneak it into the cart; make a production of buying it!

How about holiday food? Those jelly beans are not going to be around forever! We should eat them while they are available, right?

Ok, here is a touchy point. I have trouble with this one, because that little part of me that says "but Easter is just once a year!" is the same little part of me that thinks that, especially when I'm traveling, "I don't know for sure where my next meal is coming from, so I'd better fill up now!" I call this carpe diem eating, Latin for "seize the day".

My philosophy on this one is that if there is something that is truly unique to the time of the year, go for it. This would include fruitcake at Christmas, the chocolate dreidel that you always get for Hanukkah, the Godiva chocolate that your husband brings for Valentine's Day, and wedding cake at your daughter's wedding. I mean, come on!

Thanksgiving Feast

I've actually seen people at weddings who refuse the little slice of cake that is offered. You take it, eat two bites of it, really savor the flavors and the textures, and then get up to dance.

To make up for this stuff, when you go to a holiday party where there are lots of these festive things around, you do NOT take things like nuts and chips and dips and junk that is always around. Take only small amounts of the really seasonal stuff and really really enjoy it!

You will leave the party pleasantly satisfied, your tastebuds having been appeased with their annual dose of fruitcake. You will not feel like you have cheated yourself out of the holiday and will, therefore, have no cause for rebellion.

What about that Valentine's heart? If you did not forestall this in time and you find yourself faced with a two pound box of chocolates, you have a few choices. First, do NOT give it to the dog. Chocolate in large amounts can make your pooch dreadfully sick. If it is not the best chocolate, eat one piece, smile demurely and tell him how wonderful he is, and then leave it on the counter for a few days without eating anymore of it. After that time, throw it away. If he mentions it, tell him that the kids must have eaten it or something and then ask him if he wants nachos with his beer while he watches the football game.

If it is very good chocolate, you can freeze it indefinitely. Offer it to guests, to your children, your husband. And you have one piece every day. Just one. Take little nibbles off of it and really, really love it!

Don't ever waste your body eating anything that you don't really love. That is just stupid. I've seen people take a piece of candy and bite into it. It is lemon cream and they don't really like lemon cream but they go ahead and finish it! I know you have too!

It is that "can't let it go to waste" mentality at work again! How much of your "love handles" (which you HATE) can be attributed to junk that you ate that you did not really LOVE? Read the last sentence again.

Reduce a food, don't eliminate it. The grapefruit diet, Atkins, I've even heard of a cabbage soup diet! <shudder> I have NO doubt that people can and do lose weight with these plans. I mean, how much cabbage soup can a person eat, anyway?

Atkins is a little more sensible, at least. He says no carbohydrates like sugar or pasta or bread or potatoes. Certain vegetables are ok and maybe certain fruits. Well, again, this is a way to lose weight. A person can only eat so much meat. And what will we put butter on if we can't have potatoes or rolls? 

But after a person is on such a diet for a period of time, it is inevitable that *rebellion* will take over. Since your palate has been denied foods that you like, you will crave them. We all know what happens next. Our string draws tight.. tighter.. till we cannot hold back anymore and we buy a banana cream pie and eat the whole thing by ourself. (If you read "Weigh yourself everyday", you know that eating the whole pie does not signify the end of the world, or of your diet, but you get my point.)

"It isn't on my diet!" Whenever I see someone looking longingly at a plate of cookies and saying "Oh, I really WISH I could, but it isn't on my diet!" I just wince. This is a person whose diet is doomed to fail. Even if she loses the weight that she wants to lose, as soon as her diet is "over", it will be "Chocolate chippers, here I come!" and if she is not very careful, she will regain it and regain it fast.

The idea of maintenance is that you are not ever really off your diet, so your diet needs to be one that you can live with forever. No one can live forever without potato chips. No one can live forever without cookies. Don't kid yourself.

the dessert buffet

How to eat pie. Do not deny yourself foods that you like. When you see four different yummy pies on the all-you-can-eat buffet line, cut off a BITE-size piece of each of them. Then as you are eating, cut each bite with your fork, making each bite into SEVERAL bites. Really make a production of it.

Your job here is to really ENJOY these pies. And if you time it right, you will be finishing your last little teensy bite just as your companions are finishing their last slice. 

If your hostess insists upon foisting a whole piece of pie on you instead of the single bite that you want, smile and cut the portion that you want to eat from the slice, then, as if pretending that the rest were not there, cut tiny bites off that portion, savoring, thoroughly enjoying every molecule. If anyone should ask about the rest of your pie (I cannot imagine anyone being so rude, really) just smile brightly and say "Oh! it is so delicious!" They will think you too charming to torment you further.

More on Fat. The following is from from November, 1999. 


Bigger, bolder, better tasting than ever! Only now, some health experts and government agencies are saying maybe it wasn't so bad for us after all.

Current revisionist thinking on the medical consequences of high-fat foods (keep in mind, this thinking seems to be revised in what seems like five year cycles), is that their elimination is not all its cracked up to be, for several reasons:

1. Fatty foods are more filling, fat-free foods are less filling--people trying to adhere to low-fat diets tend to eat more of the other foods, diminishing the calorie savings, thereby ending up with nearly as much body fat as they would have had anyway. 

2. The correlation between a dietary fat and elimination of certain types of health problems is less clear than previously thought--the correlation which is much greater, is between body fat and these problems.

3. High fat in the diet is not nearly as big a problem as is the lack of fiber in the diet. Unlike the negative impact of high dietary fat (which is unclear), the necessity of dietary fiber is clearly established. And whether it comes from whole grain bakery foods, fruits or whatever source, most American diets are woefully lacking in the fiber they need.

The key, according to many current diet-think experts, is just what your mother told you: eat a varied, balanced diet, which provides the nutrients you need, and get enough physical activity to balance your caloric intake with your caloric usage. In doing so, you'll almost assuredly eliminate problems stemming from obesity...and you'll actually sit down to a meal you can enjoy.

As for what to offer your customers: whole grains and high fiber content are the way to go...and, at least this year, they've got the blessings of the "experts.""

I know that this particular piece is written for bakeries to pass on to their customers. However, it says what I've been saying about fat all along. Moderation. Don't give up any one food group entirely, and that includes fat!

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This author does not purport to be a nutritionist or expert in this field. The author has consulted with a physician who verifies this material to be medically and scientifically sound. Consider talking to your physician before beginning any sort of weight loss or exercise program. Web space for this site is paid for by the site owner and author. The author maintains this site and is not monetarily compensated in any way for this.