Nuts & Bolts...
How does this work in real life?
Eating out.
Eating out is the downfall of many diet attempts. I have already given you a lot of tips for eating out. I think that the most important thing to keep in mind when you are eating out is portion size. If you can order a small portion, that is wonderful. More likely, though, you will be presented with a gut-busting plate of food. How to deal with this?

Upon receiving your plate, physically draw a line on each of your food items, cutting them in half. You may eat up to the line on each, unless you are full before that. Pace yourself so that you finish half your food in the time that it takes your companions to finish all of theirs. Thoroughly enjoy everything. (If something is not completely delicious, do not feel compelled to eat any of it.)

When you reach this halfway line, stop and very carefully consider. Are you still hungry? Not "do you like the food?" or "am I full?" or "Is this food going to go to WASTE?" My bet is that after careful consideration, at this point, when the server comes to you and says "Will there be anything else?" you will be quite comfortable saying, "Yes, will you box this for me?"

Snacking. Why? Why Not? How to cope.

Why do we snack?
Snacking is a downfall for a lot of diet plans because the plans do not adequately address our NEED to snack. Only when we look at why and how we snack, can we figure out how to cope with its lure.

Many of us are coffee break snackers, evening snackers, or even midnight snackers. We rationalize our snacking with the best of reasons.

Mid-morning we might say, "Well, I didn't get any breakfast this morning anyway," thus explaining our consumption of a jelly donut. Somehow the 350 calories of the jelly donut (which also has no real nutritional value) equals the 200 calories from a bowl of raisin bran with skim milk? You know better, so stop fooling yourself! Eat a good wholesome breakfast and let the donut cart pass. Even a muffin or a bagel is high in fat, low in nutritional value, and full of sugar.

 We explain that mid-afternoon Reese's Cup by saying, "Well, I've been so good all day." Yes, you have been good. You have worked hard and you have eaten only good food. So my question would be "Why sugar yourself up now?" 

Nighttime food cravings
are very common, but you can take control. Let's examine why we snack at night. I think that one reason that so many of us are evening snackers is that we just are bored and need something to do with our hands so we eat. Television encourages that with their endless commercials for candies and fatty, sugary snack foods.  Some of us extend our dinnertime mentally so that it stretches on into the evening. Sitting down in front of the TV with a bag of Pecan Sandies, we say to ourselves, "This is just dessert; I'm entitled to dessert."

A bedtime snack
is a ritual in some households, often something like cookies and milk. Sometimes we can't really even say why we are snacking. We just prowl around in the kitchen, peering into the fridge or the cookie jar, pouncing upon any unsuspecting morsel that looks tempting.

Actually this is probably a combination of reasons, loneliness, boredom, leftover feelings from childhood about food = love, or more of that "I can't let this go to waste!" mentality.

Another one that I fall into is that rationalization that since it is holiday time I can have a handful of this candy. After all, soon these malted milk eggs will be off the shelf! (and there will just be normal malted milk balls to replace them. <g>)

Now that we have looked at some of the whys of snacking, let's look at some of the why-nots and then some ways that you can tame the wild snacker who lurks inside of you.

candy = happiness.... doesn't it?

Why Not Snack?
I'm not going to tell you not to snack; you have been told that enough, and it is STUPID advice anyway! But we need to be careful about snacking. There are dangers to snacking and if we are aware of them, we can be savvy snackers!

Now if all of your snacks are celery stalks (without Cheez Whiz or peanut butter), you need not care about how many or how often you snack. What I am addressing here is the more common variety of snacker, those among us who crave sugary or salty snacks, commonly known as "snack foods".

First of all, snacking has the effect of killing our appetites for a good meal, as our mothers told us long ago. If we are going to get and stay slim, and be healthy as well, we need to make our calories really count. Empty calories  should be minimized where we can. 

Midnight or before bed snacks are not a good idea. As we get older, we are more and more prone to "acid reflux", a topic that is appearing more and more in advertising. What acid reflux is is the painful splashing of acid from your stomach into your esophagus. Over a long period of time, this can even lead to pre-cancerous changes called Barrett's Syndrome.

Acid reflux can be an effect of what foods you eat, but it can also be a simple mechanical effect of gravity. If you eat food and then lie down right after, you are offering a clear invitation for acid to sneak up into your esophagus. 

Next let's discuss sugar. This is not a scientific paper and I am not a nutritionist, (I did have one class in nutrition though, in which I got an A+) but I can share some things that I do know about sugar and what it does in your body.

When your body detects that you have eaten sugar, your pancreas spits out a load of insulin, a hormone that helps your body to manage the sugar in your blood. Immediately after you eat sugar, you experience a "sugar high" which, once the insulin hits, turns into a LOW that is lower than the level where you were before the sugar. So you feel actually hungrier than you were before you ate that sugary snack.  We know now why one cookie so often leads us to another and another.

Secondly, sugar has the effect of raising your triglycerides, a type of blood fat that leads to heart disease.

And finally, sugar leads to tooth decay, especially if you eat it between meals without brushing afterwards. All of these should  provide you with ample justification for avoiding sugary snacks a lot of the time. 

For a more in-depth look at sugar, have a look at Sugar Busters.

Chips are very high in one thing and that is CALORIES, empty calories. The yummy crunchiness of them adds to their naturally addictive quality, and so we have a deadly combination, empty calories that we just want MORE of.

Crackers are ok, but here again they can be addictive, one cracker leading to one handful, leading to another and another. Something about these crunchy snacks that keeps us going and going. It must be something primal in the rhythm that we generate when we chew them.

Okay, so we realize that we ought not eat so much sugar or "snack foods". But how do you cope? What do you do *instead*? My recommendations will fall into the following categories: plan, minimize, clean up, and get busy.

Plan your snacks. If you are at a party and there are hors d'oevres being served, don't just graze. Get a plate and place on it all the food that you are going to eat (or half). Take a good assortment, just one of each item that you want, for example. Then make this food last you throughout the party.

If you take half of what you plan to eat, just go back ONCE, that is the rule. Don't stand next to the nut bowl; why torture yourself?

The same thing applies at home. If you must have a snack and you choose to have Oreos, decide how many you will have, take out just that many, and put the package away. No more. Period. Plan your snacking and snack according to your plan.

Following our evening meal is a perfectly fine time to have a bit of dessert every other day or so. Decide what you are going to have before you start eating it. Plan.

Minimize is just that. If you feel like having a large popcorn, get a small instead and savor it. Dissect each kernel with your teeth as you eat. Love the crunch! Love the salt of each bite!

Clean up! After your meal or snack, go right away and brush your teeth. You won't feel as apt to junk up your mouth with food after you have carefully brushed.

Then put all the leftovers AWAY, out of your sight. Put the little canister of Durkee Fried Onions AWAY. Toss all leftovers that are "not enough to save."

NEVER ever eat stuff while you are cleaning up. If it is not enough to save, toss it out for the raccoons or toss it in the trash. What are you telling yourself when you think, "Do I throw it into the trash or just eat it myself?" Uh... you are NOT your family's trash receptacle. Stop thinking like that. 

Furthermore, you are less likely to eat snack food that is kept out of sight than that which is left in cute little jars on your kitchen counter, so keep your snack food put away. Not only will it be out of sight, but it will be a little more of a bother to get at if it is put away and you know you have to put it away after you eat it.

Finally, get busy! Evening is the time that we all sit around to relax in front of the TV with our families. It is a time for hands in bags.. bags of popcorn, of chips, of M&M's.

The way to keep your hands out of these bags is to busy them in some other pursuit. Some possible outlets include knitting, computer games, wood carving, or origami. You get the idea. Do something that renders it impossible to do it and EAT at the same time.

Now what about dessert? Dessert, the last "formal" thing that you eat in a day, is fraught with trouble if you do it wrong. You know the drill. With the family, we have a scoop of ice cream with praline pecans atop it. Then we pour a few more of the pecans into the bowl to "soak up" the melted ice cream left in our bowl. Then we look at the remaining pecans and think to ourselves that there are too few to put away and that this is just part of our dessert. So we take the jar of pecans into the family room and munch them while  we watch "ER".

Of "plan, minimize, clean up, and get busy" which rule(s) DID we follow here? Which one(s) did we screw up on?

Well, first off, we may have planned well, but we did not follow our plan.

We did not do well with the "clean up" rule, either. Had we put the pecan jar away after we sprinkled them atop the family's sundaes, we would not have been so likely to think up the ingenious plan of using more pecans to "soak up" the melted ice cream.  "Get busy" is another rule that we messed up on here. Occupying one's hands with food is never a good thing, especially when it leads to mindless snacking, such as munching in front of the TV when you are not likely to even enjoy what you are eating.

We did pretty well with minimizing. One scoop of ice cream with a handful of praline pecans is a modest portion, in my estimation. I would have rather that we left one pecan in the bottom of the bowl, but eating all of that is no crime if we really want it.

If that sweetness of the pecans gets tiresome before you finish them, stop eating them. WHO CARES if you "waste" them? Better to dump them into the trash than to be heavier than you want to be.

Always remember that the real WASTE of food is wearing it on your WAIST.

Here is another example: You decide that your dessert is to be Oreos and so you take two out and then put the package away. You sit at the table and eat the two cookies  s..l..o..w..l..y , savoring the sweet creamy center and the crunchy dark chocolate cookie outsides. Then after your dessert, you go brush your teeth and then grab your crocheting as you join your family in front of the tube. 

Plan... two Oreos. Minimize... just two. Clean up.. probably the most important thing here. You put the cookies away and then went after you had your dessert and brushed your teeth. Get busy... it is impossible to eat at the same time you crochet.

Keep in mind that, with this plan, you are not taking on the world. You are taking on Oreos! You can do this!This is all you have to worry about at this moment. Are you going to eat a dozen Oreos? Or are you going to eat only two? Will eating a dozen Oreos nourish you? Will it make you feel better? Will you enjoy eating a dozen of them SIX TIMES MORE than eating two? I'll bet that you can have MORE fun eating two than eating a dozen if you do it right!

If you like to have a snack before bed, try changing your routine a little. If the rest of the family insists on cookies and milk before bed, take this time for yourself. Go take a hot bath. Give yourself a facial. Do your nails. Brush your teeth and floss carefully. Sort out the contents of your wallet. Write in your diary. Go to bed early and read a chapter of a sleazy romance novel. Take an atlas to bed and begin to dream about your next vacation.


Several small meals during the day. Some of us have been told that it is best for us to eat several small meals throughout the day, rather than to have breakfast, lunch, and supper. Well, that is fine as long as you eat the same kind of foods that you would normally eat at a meal, and as long as the small meals are truly small. If each of your "small" meals is just a wee bit smaller than a normal-sized meal, then you will likely GAIN weight.

For many people this sort of diet turns into a snack-fest, an excuse to eat nonsensically, all the while pretending that you have your doctor's blessing to do this.

"Well I didn't have lunch," you might say, as you down two packages of cheese-peanut butter crackers with your Dr. Pepper. What you must do to deal with this type of diet is to plan very carefully. 

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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.