I did a couple fun interviews last week that I’ve embedded below. The first was an interview of me on BakeSpace about losing weight eating what you love. The second was interview with friend and filmmaker Graham Hancock, one of the first readers of Foodist who has already lost 35 pounds.
This week around the internets we learn how to break the takeout addiction, burn more calories while eating less, and five of my secret ingredients on Oprah.com.
Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato, Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
Grocery shopping has never been more confusing than it is in 2013.
With conflicting nutrition information coming at us from all sides, navigating the supermarket can feel as impossible as doing long division while juggling loaded bear traps. It’s neither fun nor safe.
To help you find real food within the endless labyrinth of junk, I’ve put together this handy flowchart for your use and amusement. Consider it your supermarket GPS. If you ever get lost, just start back at the top.
I originally created a version of this flowchart back in 2011, but it has been updated and made far more awesome for my new book Foodist. Please share and enjoy.
Among my health conscious friends, we unanimously agree that eating out is the biggest barrier to weight loss.
San Francisco residents are fortunate that local, high-quality ingredients are the standard in almost every dining establishment (same is true for NYC, LA and other US foodie cities). We have gastropubs serving up grass-fed beef burgers, street carts offering sustainable fish tacos and small neighborhood spots dishing up heirloom vegetables and artisan ingredients.
I know, we’re spoiled rotten. But there’s a downside to all these wonderful options.
Ironically, the problem is that everything tastes amazing and is relatively healthy. Also, the menus tend to change regularly (often daily) depending on what is in season. So there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever be able to enjoy a particular dish more than once.
These things make it really easy to justify overeating.
There are many factors that cause us to overeat when we’re out. Here are the most common, and what to do about them.
6 Ways Eating Out Causes Overeating (And How To Stop It)
1. Huge portions
Problem: Even at the best SF restaurants, portions are still usually way too large for any one person (though few people realize this). Most of us could eat 75% of what we’re served and still have eaten more than we needed to be satisfied. That’s too much food even if you don’t fall victim to any of the pitfalls below.
Share. It feels unnatural at first, but you’ll quickly realize that even men can share most dishes and still get plenty of food. If you really want your own entree, chances are you don’t need anything else on the menu.
Stop. As one of my very slender friends recently explained to me, “People just need to get over the guilt of leaving food on their plate when they’re no longer hungry.” We are naturally wired to finish our plates, no matter how big. Training yourself to stop when full is the only way around this problem when you don’t control portion sizes. If you’re still riddled with guilt, make friends with the to-go box.
2. Multiple courses
Problem: Feel obligated to try everything? Variety may be the spice of life, but it’s also a great way to eat more than you should.
Solution: Order less. Ask your server how much food is appropriate for your party, and assume that’s at least 20% more than you need (i.e. drop a small plate). Make the tough decision and only order as much as you’re comfortable finishing. Otherwise, make sure you’ve mastered the “stop eating” rule above. (hint: it’s easier to have restraint briefly and order less than to try and hold yourself back once the food is in front of you).
Rarely do we regret ordering too little.
3. Free bread
Problem: Pre-meal bread is the worst. Not only is it some of the most useless calories in the human diet, it tortures and taunts you while you’re waiting for the food you’ve already decided is worth your time and calories.
Solution: Skip it all together. If you can’t handle the basket sitting on the table, explain to the server that you don’t need bread. If you’re trapped because everyone else at the table is having a dinner roll feeding frenzy, distract yourself by ordering a good drink and striking up conversation.
4. Dessert menus
Problem: Dessert is tasty and ubiquitous.
Choose your battles. No one on earth should be eating dessert daily. Sugar accelerates aging, causes heart disease, diabetes and pretty much all the diseases of civilization. It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or thin, sugar is bad for you. So you should only welcome the dessert menu if this meal is a truly special occasion.
Count your bites. Even if you do decide to indulge, you shouldn’t pretend that 10 bites is the same as 4. Desserts typically run 25-75 calories PER BITE (think about that), and extras really do matter.
5. Excessive alcohol
Problem: Drinking is fun and can lead to excess in many ways. Sugary drinks, beer and even wine can contribute significant sugar calories to your daily intake. Alcohol also puts you at greater risk of making poor decisions, like that late night burrito at El Farolito (yeah, I’ve been there).
Water. Alternate between alcoholic drinks and water. This will both prolong your evening stamina as well as temper tomorrow’s hangover pain.
Drink less. A good friend in the restaurant business recently introduced me to the “half cocktail,” which is basically half the size (and sugar/alcohol content) of a regular cocktail. The half cocktail is brilliant because you get to try more drinks without paying for it the next day. This might not be an official option at the bar, but it is certainly an option at home or if you’re out with a close friend.
Go weak. If drinking less is really hard for you, start by ordering drinks with less alcohol and sugar. French wines tend to have less alcohol than big California wines. Likewise, there are plenty of amazing cocktails that don’t require added sugar. Talk to your bartender to find the best options for you.
6. Tasty dishes
Problem: Food is tasty and you want to keep eating it.
Solution: Stop thinking with your tongue and start using your brain. I know food is good, but the research has shown that people enjoy the first bite more than any other. Start with the best things on your plate and leave the worst for last. It’s easier to walk away if you’re sure you’ve already had your best bite.
Mindful eating has been the most difficult healthstyle habit for me to cultivate. By far.
Although I have developed several tactics to help me remember to slow down and pay attention to my food, it is usually the first thing to slip when stress and life get the better of me.
Humans, especially Americans, are notoriously susceptible to triggers in our surroundings that provoke overeating. Rather than paying attention to when we’re full or have eaten enough, we’re more likely to continue eating just because there is more food on the plate, the TV show we’re watching is still on, or because everyone else is still eating.
Dieters are even worse than most people in this department, since they have a long history of ignoring their internal satiety signals that tell them when they are and aren’t hungry.
When you eat mindlessly your environment wins and you’re more likely to overeat. You also appreciate your food less, since you aren’t focused on the sensory pleasures of eating. Cultivating mindful eating habits is therefore one of the most valuable tools in your foodist tool belt, because it helps you eat less while enjoying it more.
The benefits of practicing mindfulness are not limited to the realm of food. Cultivating mindful behaviors in your daily life has been shown to reduce stress, improve memory, and increase well-being overall.
When I noticed that wedding stress was taking a serious toll on me, I began relying heavily on what is known as 4-7-8 breathing to calm myself. I first learned about this practice in Dr. Andrew Weil’s book Spontaneous Happiness (a fabulous book, especially if you ever experience depression or other emotional disorders), and noticed that it had a tremendous positive effect on me, particularly when I was experiencing bouts of anxiety.
4-7-8 breathing is a short exercise that helps quiet the mind. To begin, lay down or sit in a chair with a straight back and close your eyes. Place the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth, just above your front teeth. Exhale through your mouth while making a blowing noise. Close your mouth and inhale through the nose for a count of four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, then exhale for eight seconds. Do this four times, then slowly open your eyes. Here’s a nice video demo if you want to check it out.
In the months leading up to the wedding I would use 4-7-8 breaths one to three times per day to reduce stress, and the experience became so pleasant and rewarding to me that I’ve continued it even after the actual wedding date. One of the benefits I’ve noticed is that if my 4-7-8 breaths come shortly before a meal (which is often, since it is usually the first time during the day when I sit in a chair that isn’t behind a screen), then remembering to chew thoroughly and eat mindfully is much, much easier.
Remembering to eat mindfully can be very difficult. If you’re being mindless, how are you supposed to remember to be more mindful? If you remember to be mindful, aren’t you being mindful already? It can be tricky, so 4-7-8 breathing is an incredibly valuable tool to help build the habit. I think it works because the reward for calming the mind with breaths is stronger than simply eating slowly, which feels difficult in practice. You also get the additional benefits of less stress and more focus. Everyone is a winner.
Have you found breathing exercises can help you eat more mindfully?
PLEASE NOTE: ALL THESE OFFERS HAVE NOW EXPIRED. THANK YOU.
I started Summer Tomato four years ago with a single goal: to help as many people as possible stop dieting. Not only does dieting not work for long-term weight control, it also makes your life suck. And that is unacceptable.
Foodist, my book coming out on May 7, is the ultimate manifestation of my mission to debunk the lies of the dieting industry and give people a real blueprint to get healthy and eat amazing food. I’d like as many people as possible to read it, and for that I need your help.
To hit a best-sellers list in 2013 I need to convince as many of you as possible to pre-order Foodist. Since ebook versions don’t count as much toward sales rankings as physical books, I also need to encourage as many hardcover orders as possible.
If you’ve considered buying Foodist for yourself or anyone else you care about, now is definitely the time. I’ve put together a ton of awesome prizes for pre-ordering multiple hardcover copies, including a chance to win a free trip to San Francisco for the private Foodist book launch party on May 9 (!!!). Trust me, you’ll definitely want to be there.
There are some fantastic deals in here, and I hope you find them worth your while.
ENTRIES FOR THE CONTEST TO WIN A TRIP TO SF MUST BE RECEIVED BY MONDAY, APRIL 22, AT 3PM PST (NOW EXPIRED). See “Buy 25 Books” below for more details.
ALL OTHER OFFERS EXPIRE ON FRIDAY MAY 3, AT 3PM PST.
Unfortunately all shipping is limited to within the US at this time (though you’re welcome to use something like this). Other restrictions apply for the contest (see below).
PLEASE NOTE: ALL THESE OFFERS HAVE NOW EXPIRED. THANK YOU.
If one hardcover copy is all you care to have or can afford, I still appreciate your early purchase tremendously. As a thank you, I’m offering everyone who buys a hardcover copy the opportunity to win a personalized, signed copy of Foodist (otherwise only available to those who buy 25 copies). Just take a picture of yourself with the book the week of launch (May 7-14) and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #foodist. Two winners will be selected.
Buy one book for yourself and one for your mom (moms loveFoodist) and you can join me for a live two hour Q&A (virtual, of course) exclusive for people who pre-order multiple copies. You’ll have my undivided attention for two hours and I’ll answer any and all questions you come up with. Since only foodists will be participating, we’re sure to get some excellent questions. You’ll also be able to enter the Instagram competition.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Buy just three copies of Foodist and you’ll get to enter the Instagram competition, join the Q&A and you’ll also receive a free Mercado farmers market bag from Quirky ($25 value). I’ve been using my Mercado bags for almost a year now and have yet to have a tomato casualty at the farmers market. This is the perfect gift to kick off your new foodist healthstyle.
If you pre-order 25 hardcover copies of Foodist for your company or organization, or just to test your book stacking skills, you have a chance to win the grand prize: a free trip to San Francisco to attend the private Foodist launch party with me and all my favorite food and tech people here in the city.
To enter the contest just fill out the form, including the bonus question “Why are you so excited about sharing FOODIST?” (I assume you won’t be reading all 25 copies yourself). You must live in the US or Canada, and be at least 21 years old to enter. Three judges will choose the winning response. The deadline for entering is Monday, April 22, at 3pm PST.
PLEASE NOTE: THE TRIP TO SF CONTEST IS NOW EXPIRED. HOWEVER YOU CAN STILL RECEIVE THE OTHER GIFTS BELOW, AND EVEN ATTEND THE PARTY (LIMIT 4 PARTICIPANTS – AIRFARE AND HOTELS NOT INCLUDED) IF YOU PURCHASE 25 COPIES AFTER THE DEADLINE.
In addition to an entry to the contest, for pre-ordering 25 books you will also receive:
A personalized, signed copy of Foodist—I’m really not doing a lot of these (priceless)