Sign up

You deserve to feel great, look great & LOVE your body

Enter your email for your FREE starter kit to get healthy & lose weight without dieting:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

10 Simple Ways To Eat Less Without Noticing

by | Oct 14, 2013

Photo by Idle Type

What you eat is important, but even healthy food can stop you from losing weight if you eat too much of it.

I never recommend extreme calorie restriction (most people aren’t very good at it anyway), but there are some tricks you can use to slightly reduce the amount of food you eat without feeling deprived, or even really noticing.

Your brain is easily fooled by shifts in perspective. It’s also more responsive to external cues like an empty plate, than internal cues like a full stomach. Understanding these influences can show you how to tilt them in your favor.

Read the rest of this story »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Simple Tips To Avoid Late Night Snacking

by | Feb 6, 2013

Photo by xJasonRogersx

Snacking can be a mixed blessing for anyone learning to eat healthy. On one hand, a small healthy snack after a workout or an hour or so before a late meal can help you avoid making bad, hunger-induced food decisions later. On the other hand, snacking can easily grow out of control and be a source of hundreds of excess calories.

Late night snacking almost never falls into the good snacking category and is usually driven by cravings or habit rather than legitimate hunger. Here are a few tips to help you make healthy post-dinner food decisions and break the habit of late night snacking.
Read the rest of this story »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

9 Surefire Ways To Sabotage Your Weight Loss

by | Jan 16, 2013

Photo by Tomas Sobek

There are thousands of ways to fail at meeting your health and weight loss goals, but some are so reliable you may as well give up before you start.

If your plan includes any of the following strategies, you may want to reevaluate your tactics.

9 Surefire Ways To Sabotage Your Weight Loss

1. Rely on willpower

Even if you’re one of those people with an iron will, no one can hold out forever. Willpower is notoriously unreliable, and if you’re ever sleepy, hungry, tipsy, grumpy, sad, happy, lazy or all of the above, your weakness will eventually win.

2. Forget the difference between temporary and permanent

Is your goal to fit into a size 4? Almost anyone can get there if they follow a strict enough diet and workout regimen for a set amount of time—the question is, how long do you want to stay there? If your goals are intended to be permanent, your dietary and fitness modifications need to be as well.

3. Start a really hard workout regimen

Having someone kick your ass in boot camp may sound like what you need to get in shape, but how long do you really think you will subject yourself to pain and suffering before you give up on exercise completely? Most people don’t last 2 months.

4. Never learn to eat mindfully

One of the biggest differences between the US and less obese cultures (e.g. France) is our complete and utter lack of food culture. In healthier cultures, meal time is an important event of people gathering to share good food and stories from the day. And with these habits come standards for portion sizes, eating speed and nutritional balance.

Sadly, it’s unlikely the US will suddenly establish a healthy food culture in time to help the majority of the population. But you can get a lot of the benefits yourself by learning to eat mindfully. Mindful eating helps you slow down, savor your food and appreciate each bite. For these reasons it is incredibly effective at helping with portion control–but without any feelings of deprivation.

In our culture, mindful eating is very difficult and takes some practice. It’s hard to slow down when your friends are wolfing down food by the handful. But it is possible. Practice when you’re alone and it will be easier when you’re with friends.

5. Ignore how much you miss your favorite foods

Love ice cream? Can you go your entire life without it? What about 6 months? Or do you just plan to hold out as long as you can before the next inevitable binge? Cold turkey isn’t necessary if you develop a healthy relationship with your favorite treats.

6. Assume that what worked for someone else will work for you

Have a friend who lost a ton of weight on the Atkins diet? Me too. I also have friends who lost weight doing the master cleanse or going vegan. Typically only the ones who make permanent habit changes can maintain it, so a plan that works for someone else will only work for you if you enjoy it and can incorporate it into your life. Everyone is different.

7. Dramatically restrict your eating

Starving is not fun. Nor are cravings. Nor is malnutrition. Limiting your calories to unrealistic lows is a great way to begin the cycle of yo-yo dieting that we all know and love. Enjoy!

8. Don’t find deeper purpose in what and why you eat

This one may sound a bit esoteric, but bear with me. If your goals are to build healthy habits (which they should be), the people who have the most success are those that want to achieve more than a change in their appearance. Vegans believe so deeply that harming animals is wrong that they never stray from their diets. Locavores want to know and trace the source of all their foods. For some people, being told you will die if you do not change your habits is enough.

For myself, it’s good to know that my habits are healthy and effective, but I’ve come to understand that how I eat is a way of life that has deeper political, philosophical and environmental impact than I ever imagined. It’s also super tasty. For inspiration, check out the film Food, Inc. or read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. You won’t regret it.

9. Pick a diet that is super inconvenient

We all have our limits on how far we’ll go to stick to an eating plan. Be sure to know yours. If you’re too busy (or have too many taste buds) to eat a specific combination of foods every 3 hours–I know I couldn’t–then don’t pretend like you can. Pick dietary changes you can handle, the little things do add up if you can maintain them for the long haul.

Have you lost weight and kept it off for years? Tell us how.

Originally published January 19, 2011.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Burn More Calories Without Breaking A Sweat

by | Sep 12, 2012

It’s amazing to me how easy it is to forget to move.

This year was the first time in about 5 years that I found myself gaining weight. It wasn’t a lot, just 5 lbs over 6 months or so, but it was strange for me since I didn’t think I was doing anything different.

I write and think about healthy living all the time, and I absolutely love the food I eat. I no longer crave sugar, and avoiding it isn’t hard. If anything I have eaten healthier than ever during this time, since I started working at home and control 100% of my meals. I’ve been eating the same or better quality food than I always have, and have even improved on my mindful eating techniques.

So what gives?

I didn’t think the problem was exercise, since I still go to the gym 4-6 days a week. My workouts have actually gotten better, and I’ve noticed welcome improvements in several aspects of my physique (thank you kettlebell!). I wasn’t upset about how I looked, I had just gotten slightly larger and didn’t know why.

Then about 6 weeks ago I figured it out: I had stopped walking.

When I was still in my PhD program I had a substantial walk to work, at least a mile each way if I took the campus shuttle, and about 2.5 miles each way if I walked the whole distance (I did this rarely, but tried to squeeze it in when I could). I also worked in the lab, running back and forth between rooms and up and down stairs to get equipment. Though I came home each evening and worked on Summer Tomato until the wee hours of the morning, I was not sedentary.

Even during my brief stint in the corporate world after graduation I had a walking commute to work. But after I quit in January I just stayed at home writing. At first I had a standing desk/table I was using, but logistics and a problematic elbow forced me to move to the coffee shop across the street where most of my work gets done now. This sedentary shift correlates exactly with when I noticed my pants getting tighter.

What’s crazy to me is that this amount of exercise seems so inconsequential it doesn’t even register in my brain until months after the change has occurred (did I mention I was still working out almost every day?). And it’s not like I never think about this stuff, I noticed when I first started walking that I effortlessly dropped weight. How could I forget that non-exercise activity (NEAT) is so important?

It’s easy to forget, but this is good news. It means that it is not a chore to burn more calories—in fact, you will hardly notice. All you need to do is make an effort to be a little more active throughout the day, and work to build more activity into your daily routine.

To solve my problem, I turned to my puppy Toaster. He needs to get out and walk a few times a day, so I thought why not improve both of our lives by making a daily pilgrimage to the bigger, better park that’s about a mile from the house instead of the smaller, dirtier park that is closer and more convenient? He gets more exercise and behaves better, I get my walk in, and we both have more fun. Win-win.

I’m happy to report that my pants are fitting better again and I’m back down to my normal weight.

If you don’t have a dog, there are plenty of other ways to move more. Avoid elevators and escalators, walk to lunch or between floors in your building, do chores more enthusiastically at home and park further away in the parking lot. Just standing up more can make a difference. These things add minuscule amounts of time to your tasks but add up significantly for your health.

Unlike structured, high-intensity exercise, walking and other low-intensity movements don’t make you hungrier. There’s good evidence that increasing your daily activity can burn hundreds of extra calories each day and may be one of the most effective ways to impact your energy balance (i.e. burn more without eating more). This is not true of more formal exercise, which tends to make people hungrier. Importantly, non-exercise activity correlates with body weight in obese as well as normal weight individuals, so everyone can benefit from extra movement.

Even if you already work out regularly you should still strive for additional daily activity. Amazingly, high-intensity exercise doesn’t lower your inclination toward NEAT, but raises it. In one study, scientists measured NEAT 3 days before and 3 days after overweight individuals performed either moderate or high-intensity exercise. There was no measurable change in NEAT until the third day after exercise, when it increased 17% after moderate activity and 25% after intense activity. That’s impressive.

When you’re as busy as I am, it’s easy to make excuses about why extra effort is impossible. But adding a little extra movement to your normal, daily activities is far and away the easiest way to lose weight and improve your health, so why not?

I’ve also found a substantial meditative value in incorporating more physical activity. Several of my most complex problems have been solved during my walks and I’ve been plowing through podcasts and audiobooks, which I swear makes me smarter. Your brain truly appreciates a break from the screen.

Ironically, it took noticing that I was “reading” less to make me examine what was different in my life—I realized I was listening to fewer audiobooks because I was walking less, and put 2 and 2 together. Problem solved.

It’s easy to be lazy and just wait for the elevator with everyone else, even though you know the time it saves you is insignificant. But today I hope I’ve convinced you that it’s worth resisting that urge and making an effort to be more active. Try making it a game or competing with your friends using pedometers like the FitBit for extra motivation.

Love these tips? Subscribe now to get more healthy eating tips and recipes. 

Originally published September 12, 2011.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Reason Breakfast Makes Your Life Better

by | Jul 20, 2011

Yogurt, muesli and blueberries

I should admit right now that I’m a born again breakfast eater. In the past I always told myself that skipping breakfast meant one less meal adding calories to my day, and I was proud to have eliminated this annoyance from my life.

For the last several years, however, I have grown to love breakfast and am something of an evangelist. Breakfast may seem like an odd thing to try to covert people to, but once you see my reasons you may become a believer yourself.

8 Reasons Breakfast Makes Your Life Better

  • It’s easy. Breakfast doesn’t take much time or energy to prepare; I’m half asleep when I pour my cereal, rinse my fruit and boil my coffee every day. It also requires minimal planning. Just buy everything you need every week or two and you are good to go. What’s your excuse?
  • Health wins. We all must deal with the internal struggle between eating healthy and eating not-so-healthy. Throughout the day breakfast is by far the easiest battle in which health can triumph, since there is no outside social pressure and unhealthy options are harder to attain. I recommend taking winning odds whenever they are presented.
  • Hunger check. If you eat a satisfying breakfast before heading into work you are less likely to be tempted by the junk food that haunts most office environments. Likewise, you will have better self-control when it comes time to decide what to eat for lunch.
  • Whole grains. For my own healthstyle, intact whole grains are the most difficult to get in my diet. Unsweetened oats, plain brown rice and quinoa aren’t exactly staples on American restaurant menus. But without grains I feel constantly hungry and my workouts suffer. If I eat them at breakfast I am guaranteed at least that one serving during the day. (For tips to get more whole grains at dinner, check out my easy frozen brown rice balls).
  • Higher metabolism. Eating healthy food has a positive effect on your metabolism. Not only does what you eat for breakfast affect how your body reacts to different foods for the rest of the day, it also influences your metabolic rate in the long term. Be careful though, highly processed and easily digested foods have a negative effect.
  • Healthy habits. Healthy behavior begets more healthy behavior. According to some studies, this is especially true of breakfast eaters. Waking up and eating a healthy breakfast encourages you to pack a healthy lunch and plan your day around wholesome food. It feels really good to do healthy things, but we easily forget this when presented with free donuts on an empty stomach during a mid-morning meeting. Build your healthy habits when it is easy and help them stick around for the long haul.
  • Self-esteem. I think it is important to reiterate how good it feels to do healthy things for your body, and as a bonus it extends to how we feel about ourselves. Most of us feel proud and confident when we know we are doing the right thing. Why not start out each morning on the right foot?
  • Deliciousness. Of all the reasons I just listed, this one probably has the biggest sway with me personally. My breakfasts are absolutely delicious and I adore waking up and eating such yummy food. It is worth going out of your way to find healthy foods you enjoy eating, that way good food has as much pull on you as the less healthy junk. This will make your food decision making a whole lot easier.

Once you have convinced yourself that eating breakfast is important and worthwhile, it helps to know what constitutes a healthy one. I have written about breakfast before, focusing on the difference between fake “whole grains” as sold to us by processed food manufacturers and real intact whole grains.

Recently I have switched to a new favorite breakfast: plain yogurt, muesli and fruit.

I love this new combo for a few reasons

  1. I tried yogurt because I was having digestive issues for a few weeks and was hoping the probiotics in the yogurt (I eat even more probiotic foods now) might help. It totally did, and I’m sold on this method for improved digestion (despite my mild lactose intolerance).
  2. Coarse and chewy muesli is perfect on yogurt and I was able to completely cut out the fake whole grain flakes that bothered me about my old breakfast. Woohoo!
  3. The added protein and fat from the lowfat plain yogurt helps me feel satisfied longer in the day and adds a creamy luxury to my morning.

Be sure that when you are choosing your healthy breakfast you find foods with no added sugar. For example, fruit and vanilla yogurts are notorious for having obscene amounts of sugar (especially vanilla) putting it more on par with ice cream than health food. Likewise, most store bought granolas are loaded with sugar, molasses, honey, agave, concentrated fruit juice and other sweeteners. This is why I prefer muesli–completely unsweetened grains with bits of dried fruits, nuts and seeds.

When choosing plain yogurt I recommend lowfat instead of nonfat yogurt, because it is much more palatable and satisfying. Nonfat plain yogurt tends to be too tangy for me. Also, you need the fat to help with nutrient absorption and satiation.

My breakfast

  • 1 c. Plain lowfat yogurt
  • 1/4 c. Dorset muesli
  • 1/4 c. fresh fruit

What is your favorite healthy breakfast?

Originally published August 17, 2009

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Hallmarks of a BS Diet Plan

by | Nov 17, 2010

Photo by Arun Katiyar

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that most diet plans out there are full of it. If they worked, a third of us wouldn’t be classified as obese.

But if you’re trying to get healthy and lose weight, how can you tell the healthy diets from the lousy ones?

Bad diets that are designed to slim your wallet rather than your waistline actually have a lot in common. If you see any of these hallmarks of a BS diet plan, hold on to your credit card and run the other direction.

5 Hallmarks of a BS Diet Plan

1. Single case studies and lots of testimonials

People who don’t have evidence to back up their claims often rely on personal testimonials instead. Testimonials are accounts by people who have supposedly used the product and had incredible success. But in many cases, these stories are better described as uncredible than incredible.

The reality is that it’s fairly easy to get people to say/do/look exactly the way you want. Sometimes the testimonials are made by paid actors who are lying for profit, other times the quotes are simply taken out of context and exaggerated. It is even possible that some of the testimonials are true, but that the person giving them doesn’t understand the true ramifications of the results they are seeing (or will only see those results for a short time).

The point is that individual case studies rarely reflect the true effectiveness of a product, and are hand-selected to make the product look good. Because you can be sure that if the seller had real statistical data on his product’s effectiveness, he would be using that instead.

2. Black and white rules

One of the easiest things to do to lose weight is follow a set of very strict rules for a set amount of time. Limiting calories in and increasing calories out will make just about anyone lose weight for a little while, so even ridiculous plans like the Twinkie diet can seem effective for a short period.

But very few individuals can maintain a strict diet permanently, and I would argue that this should not even be your goal. A healthy eating plan must have flexibility, since everyone has different personal and dietary needs. If a diet has too many rules, it isn’t going to be your salvation.

3. Angry proponents

Rational people don’t get upset when someone disagrees with them. When you see health advocates defending their diet as if it were a religion you can bet there’s a bigger, more personal reason for all the commotion.

While it is great to be passionate about the way you eat, if supporters resort to name calling and hate blogging there’s likely more dogma than truth in whatever they’re selling.

4. Truthiness

Is that data you just told me, or just a bunch of sciencey words that explain your opinion? Don’t be fooled by a scientific theory about why a diet works. If you can’t find numbers to back up that information, then the diet is still a hypothesis and not a proven therapy. People love to tout our need for dietary “enzymes” or what we’ve “evolved” to eat, but I’ve never seen any evidence suggesting these things are true.

5. Fantastical results

Does that diet sound too good to be true? It probably is. There are many ways to induce rapid, dramatic weight loss, but unless the plan is sustainable the weight will come back. Don’t be lured by the promise of quick, amazing results. Look for plans that encourage improving habits and are designed to keep weight off permanently.

How do you identify a BS diet plan?

Tags: , , ,

Does Fruit Make You Fat and Old?

by | Jul 14, 2010
Mango Vendor in Bangkok

Mango Vendor in Bangkok

Several readers have asked lately about the impact of fruit–specifically the sugar in fruit–and it’s capacity to cause weight gain and accelerate aging through insulin signaling:

“Do people usually gain weight because of eating fruit and does the sugar in fruit age us?  I just hate to think that I am doing my body harm by eating fruit.”

If this question sounds insane to you, it shouldn’t. It is actually a very reasonable query that was sparked by two Summer Tomato articles, one about saving money while eating healthy and another on calorie restriction, aging and quality of life. In the first article I recommend thinking of fruit as dessert, a treat to be enjoyed once or twice per day. The second article is about the impact of sugar and calories on aging.

Body Weight

The fact is that fruit contains a lot more sugar than other natural foods and in large enough quantities it can contribute to weight gain. But fruit is certainly not bad for you, nor is it worse for your health than anything else in life.

The sugar in fruit contributes calories to your diet, but since you need calories to survive fruit is still a very good choice. The reason is that in addition to sugar (fructose, to be specific) fruit also has vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and many other things that contribute to health and possibly slow aging.

On the rare occasions when I do make an effort to lose a little weight, however, remembering that fruit should be dessert is something I keep in the back of my mind. I eat fruit every day, but when trying to lose weight I keep it under two servings and always choose whole fruit–avoiding anything blended or juiced. (Drinking calories is usually a bad idea.)

But this healthstyle tactic is not for everyone.

Why?

Unlike most people trying to lose weight, I already have a very healthy diet and fruit is one of the easiest places I can trim calories without feeling deprived. Cutting out things like fat and protein make dieting very difficult because you are always hungry. In my experience reducing unnecessary carbohydrates–especially sugars–is the easiest and healthiest way to lose weight.

But it is essential to remember most people are not overweight because they eat too much fruit and the vast majority of people would benefit from eating more of it.

Aging

The question about whether sugar causes aging is a fascinating one that I am very interested in.

Yes, in most organisms eating sugar has been shown to promote aging, but this has not been proven in humans. Sugar induces aging via the insulin signaling pathway, so therefore any food that increases insulin signaling could theoretically accelerate aging. The problem is that you need insulin to survive–those who cannot produce insulin have a disease called type 1 diabetes.

The good news is that eating a diet that minimizes insulin signaling is also the best way to lose weight and stay healthy, so if you are living a healthy lifestyle (one that includes fruit) you do not need to worry about anything else.

Although fruits have sugar, it is extremely unlikely that they accelerate aging. In fact, most evidence suggests that fruit slows aging because of its high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

If anti-aging is your goal, fruit is your friend not your enemy.

For more on insulin signaling, check out my post at MizFit Online, When is a calorie not a calorie.

Conclusion

While fruits contain sugar, they do not pose a special threat to your health goals. Eat and enjoy fruits as a wonderful and delicious part of life.

How much fruit do you eat?

Originally published August 31, 2009.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Don’t Eat This, Don’t Eat That: How To Eat Healthy Without Fast Food

by | Jun 9, 2010
Quarter Pounder

Quarter Pounder

Last week in For The Love of Food I called out Men’s Health as B.S. of the Week for their article, “Eat healthy at the airport.” There seems to be a growing trend in the number of weight loss programs that support eating fast food. The idea is that some menu items have slightly fewer calories than others and do not contribute (as much?) to weight gain.

It is true you can lose weight eating anything (so long as you do not eat very much of it), but that does not make eating fast food a good idea. What is misleading about these programs is the grossly inappropriate use of the word “healthy.”

Credit the book Eat This, Not That for this special brand of quackery on which Men’s Health bases their article. They begin with the example of McDonald’s (because, you know, where else are you supposed to go eat?) and suggest you order the Quarter Pounder without cheese (and without fries and soda) over the Premium Grilled Chicken Club.

The reason?

The Quarter Pounder has only 410 calories compared to the 570 calories of the chicken sandwich, a 30% reduction.

To me this sounds the same as saying 7 cigarettes is healthier than 10 cigarettes.

Sure it might be “better” to smoke a little less, but do you really believe you are doing yourself any favors? You’re still ingesting something toxic. Would you be happy if China promised to put a little less melamine in your child’s baby formula?

After decades of consuming slightly smaller doses of poison is it logical to think you’d be a more sprightly 80 year old than you would have been eating full dose poison? I don’t think so.

Rationalizing

Rationalization is the name of the game here:

“Some people are going to eat fast food no matter what, it might as well have fewer calories.”

“It’s impractical to not eat fast food. What if I’m in a hurry?”

“There’s nothing else to eat at the airport, do you want me to starve?”

“I cannot afford to eat anything healthier. Value meals are the best!”

“I just eat crap then spend extra time in the gym, so it balances out.”

“I love junk food and could never stop eating at McDonald’s.”

*shiver*

The problem with all these faux arguments is that they are based on the assumption that fast food is an inevitable part of life, too powerful to resist or avoid. My guess is we can thank the McDonald’s marketing team for this twisted bit of psychology, but that does not mean we have to accept it.

Here is why those arguments don’t hold water:

  • The “fact” that some people will continue to eat fast food does not preclude the need to have a diet that endorses it.
  • There is always something to eat besides fast food. In fact, there was actually a time when Burger King didn’t exist!
  • A few healthy-ish options can be found at the airport, but if you do a tiny bit of planning beforehand you don’t have to be stuck eating there in the first place. Another thing to consider is that starving would be healthier, since caloric restriction has been consistently shown to improve health, prevent disease and extend life. (But don’t worry, going hungry isn’t necessary.)
  • The organic kale and tempeh I ate for dinner last night cost the same (~$3.50) as that flaccid Quarter Pounder in the photo, and smelled 1000% better (yeah, I actually bought one). [For the record: I did ask for it without cheese and they just botched my order–can you imagine it looking even more tasteless? Blah. So much for tricking yourself into eating fewer calories.]
  • Working out is very important for your health, but it does not give you essential vitamins, minerals and all the other wonderful things offered by whole foods–exercise cannot substitute for a healthy diet.
  • There is room in your healthstyle for any food on special occasions. Personally I prefer to use my occasions for exquisite (rather than cheap) meals, but for some of you special may mean going out with the guys for game night or a road trip from L.A. to S.F. (i.e. the In-N-Out in Kettleman City). What is important is that you make sure foods that do not contribute (or are detrimental) to your health make up an extremely small proportion of your diet.

The Real Problem

I contend that the real issue is not that there is nothing else to eat besides fast food, but that we are not trained to recognize any other option. There is a whole world of food out there that does not include unsanitary chain restaurants.

The little secret those of us who don’t eat fast food know is that this other world is far tastier than the one of processed foods and chain restaurants. Also, the convenience factor is easily overcome if you approach it right.

The Answers

Your first defense against eating foods you didn’t plan for (isn’t that what fast food really is?) is to make sure you have a plan. Always.

Rule #1 is to know what, when and where you are going to eat all your meals throughout the day by the time you leave your house in the morning. Not doing this is setting yourself up for an uh-oh. If you are not able to know for certain the specifics of your meal plans, at least try to envision the most likely scenarios and think of ways to make them as healthy as possible. Trust me, these decisions are a lot easier if you make them before you are starving and willing to eat a deep-fried shoe.

Rule #2 is to always have a back up plan. Is there any chance that your friend will bail on you for dinner? Or that you will get stuck at work so long your neighborhood grocery will close? In cases like this it is best to have a plan B. I keep stuff in my freezer and pantry that can be whipped up at any given moment. I also store food in my desk at work for emergencies.

My go-to back up plan is carrying a small bag of nuts like almonds or cashews around with me where ever I go. That way I have something to snack on until I can get myself into a more favorable eating environment. Keep a small bag of nuts in your purse, glove compartment of your car, gym bag, desk drawer or carry on luggage. Your hidden snack should be in whatever container you will be sure to have with you at all times.

Nuts make a particularly good snack because their high fat and protein content (the super good-for-you kinds) make them very satisfying. One day when you are not starving try eating exactly 8 almonds, take a sip of water and wait half an hour. For me, this usually staves off hunger for at least another 45-60 minutes, and sometimes up to 2 hours.

It is more difficult to restrict your intake to 8 or 10 nuts when you are starving, however. But it is easier to exercise self-control if you believe (through experience) that a certain quantity is sufficient to satisfy your appetite. This is why I recommend you try this once before you find yourself in an emergency situation.

If for some reason you end up hungry and do not have your handy bag of nuts, you still have non-Whopper options:

  • Grocery stores Most grocery stores have fresh sections with cut up vegetables, fruits, hummus, lean meats and lots of other healthy items (nuts included). Pretend like you are having a picnic and nibble on a few of these things instead or resorting to the drive-thru. You will get plenty of calories, I promise.
  • Delis A small sandwich with lean meats and vegetables is a pretty good, easy option if you can find a deli. I would not call this an ideal meal, but it’s better than a BigMac for sure.
  • Non-chain restaurants If I am resigned to eating in a restaurant I haven’t planned on the first thing I look for is a non-chain restaurant, preferably a place that specializes in soups, salads and sandwiches. These places are usually well stocked in vegetables and often boast organic produce. They can be a little pricier than a Happy Meal, but it is worth it if you don’t have to eat a gray colored mystery meat patty, right?
  • Colorful plates Wherever I decide to dine, I search the menu for dishes that sound like they have a high percentage of vegetables, preferably multicolored. Ordering a side salad or vegetables instead of potatoes is an easy way to accomplish this mission.
  • Little bread Giant servings of generic, processed breads made of refined white flour are the biggest problem at most mediocre restaurants. If you can, try to order something that doesn’t require too much bread. This is especially true if you will be sitting on an airplane for the next several hours.
  • Avoid cheese Cheese is delicious and I love to eat it occasionally. However, it is common these days for restaurants to bury plates in cheese to mask the crappy ingredients they used for the rest of the dish. Chili’s low quality cheese is hardly worth the extra few hundred calories being used to cover up the fattening, mediocre food you ordered.
  • No sweets Sugar is one of the most dangerous things you can eat and should always be consumed with caution. We all love desserts, but you will be much better off saving your sweet tooth for truly special occasions. Airport terminals really aren’t that special.
  • Healthy fats I go out of my way to find healthy fats like nuts, fish and salad oils when I am eating solely to satisfy my hunger. These fats will make sure you stay full as long as possible.
  • Lean proteins As far as satisfaction goes, what is true for fats is true for proteins. Because they digest so slowly proteins help you feel full longer. Fish, eggs, nuts, beans and even whole grains like brown rice can give your meal a more satisfying impact.
  • Eat simply When you are eating on-the-go and in restaurants you are unsure about, your best bet is to stick to simple items. Avoid menu descriptors like glazed, gooey, cheesy, creamy, fiesta, piled, smothered, etc. Sauces are really a problem at airport-style restaurants. Stick to predictable items to keep yourself out of trouble. A turkey sandwich or chop salad are usually pretty safe.

The basic message is to find fresh foods and eat as balanced as possible. No matter what you order this is probably not going to be the most delicious meal of your life, so you may as well try to make it as healthy as possible. A little planning–like eating before heading to the airport–can go a long way in saving special occasions for food that is truly special.

What are the biggest obstacles you encounter when stuck somewhere without food?

Article was originally published June 3, 2009.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why I Love WeightWatchers But Would Never Go Back

by | Mar 22, 2010

I used to look like this. Not anymore.

Nothing makes me happier than helping someone discover real food. Not only does their health physically transform, but they learn about a world of tastes and flavors that can be truly life changing.

My friend E began her healthstyle upgrade at the beginning of 2010, and I’m delighted that she agreed to share her story with Summer Tomato readers.

E. Foley is a geek girl extraordinaire. She writes amazing online dating profiles for geeks and non-geeks, helping clients all over the world find love. Her writing can be found at Examiner.com, Dating Sites Reviews, and elsewhere as a ghostwriter. By day, she is the Copywriter at ThinkGeek.

Follow her @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.

Dating profiles for geeks = http://geeksdreamgirl.com

Why I Love WeightWatchers But Would Never Go Back

By E. Foley

My name is E and in 2003, I became a Lifetime Member of WeightWatchers after losing nearly 50 pounds and reaching my goal weight of 145.

Fast-forward to 2010, and I now weigh over 230 pounds. I’m 5’7″.

I gained back every pound I lost on WeightWatchers and then some. I did try to lose it. Over and over and over again I rejoined WeightWatchers and lost a handful of pounds before slipping back into bad habits and regaining them.

There is so much I love about the WeightWatchers program, but in the end, it’s Darya’s Healthstyle that has been the best choice for me.

Things I Loved About WeightWatchers

Weekly accountability

Knowing that I had to step on the scale in front of a staff member every Saturday motivated me to stay on track.

Group support

It may sound dumb, but it really felt good to have the group applaud for me when I had a good week. Knowing they’d be there to support me on a bad week was also comforting.

Balanced nutrition

I’ll get into this more later, but the WeightWatchers program, if followed to the letter, is nutritionally sound.

Role models

All the staff members are Lifetime Members, and there are always a few Lifetime Members who attend weekly meetings.

Things to ponder

Every meeting gave me something to think about, a food or recipe I wanted to try, or a warm fuzzy feeling that propelled me into the week.

Reasons Why I Can’t Go Back to WeightWatchers

Gaming the System

When I achieved Lifetime status, it was on the Flex plan. This plan allows you a certain budget of Points per day which you can spend on various types of food. The Points value of the food depends on its calories, fat, and fiber. Many vegetables are zero points, which you’d think would encourage their consumption. Not so. When I reached my goal weight, I was burning calories like mad at a gym. Some days I did two cardio classes in a row and then yoga or Pilates. This allowed me to earn Activity Points which I then spent on those tasty (but sugary!) Milk & Cereal bars that are anything but healthy.

When I regained the weight and went back to WeightWatchers, I jumped back into the same Flex program. The game for me was figuring out how to play the numbers so they added up on paper to the magic number. It got to the point where I could be “perfect” on paper but not lose a single pound.

Frustrated, I’d quit.

WeightWatchers’ Attempt at Healthstyle Fails

Later, WeightWatchers rolled out the Core program and I saw success again. Core allowed members to eat lean meats, fat-free dairy, fruits and vegetables “until satisfied.” A weekly Points budget allowed eating things that weren’t Core (namely carbs, sugars, and fats). Also included on the “free to eat” list was your daily serving of heart-healthy oils.

But Core wasn’t popular among the WeightWatchers membership. In my meetings, I’d often be the only person in the room on Core, so advice in the meeting was tailored toward Flex members. Sometimes I’d get lucky and have a leader who was on Core, but not always. Even though I was losing weight regularly on Core, the lack of support for the program made going to meetings not as helpful or motivating. WeightWatchers finally eliminated the Core program, going back to a One-Plan-Fits-All mentality.

Eat Healthy OR Filling

Remember how I said that the plan is nutritionally sound if followed to the letter? The problem with WeightWatchers is that as long as you lose weight, no one questions what you’re eating. I wish I still had my food journals from those days, because I can tell you I went full weeks without consuming a vegetable or fruit.

In the meetings, the leader would talk about getting your heart healthy oil in every day, and inevitably, someone would complain about having to “waste Points” on olive oil, when they could just use a few spritzes of aerosol cooking spray instead. When you’re working with 20 points per day (which is what I was eating when I was close to my goal weight), it does seem like a waste to use 4 of those points for a tablespoon of olive oil. Especially when 4 points could be spent on bread or meat or cheese. Or a Milk & Cereal bar.

Diet For Life?

My biggest problem with WeightWatchers is that it never felt like a way to eat for the rest of my life. Maybe it did for a while, but once hard times hit, I didn’t have the incentive to stick to my guns and eat healthy, mainly because what I ate when I was on program wasn’t all that tasty. (WeightWatchers has tons of recipe books, but all the recipes are pretty bland and uninspired.)

Finding Darya Was The Best Thing That Happened To Me

Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, says that “the best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.” This is exactly how I feel about my new healthstyle.

I don’t feel stressed out about food.

I don’t feel deprived of things I want to eat.

I don’t look forward to the day I get to “eat normal” again.

I don’t feel like the way I am eating is a ball and chain.

I don’t eat food that doesn’t taste delicious.

My Healthstyle

Breakfast: Every other Sunday, I make a giant batch of breakfast hot pockets from scratch. I have played with the dough recipe a bit to decrease the white flour down to 5 cups white, 3.5 cups wheat, 1.5 cups almond meal. Since my boyfriend is vegetarian, we use the sausage substitute. They freeze well and reheat in the microwave in 95 seconds. I love them because I am not a morning person, so I wake up as late as possible and eat on my drive to the gym.

Exercise: I am blessed to have a work schedule that allows me to work out from 8:30-9:45 a.m. just about every day. I do miss the gym from time to time, but I’m there more days than I’m not, which is a great start!

Lunch: I love salad bars, but they’re so expensive. So I started up a Salad Club at my work! We have anywhere from 4 to 6 people who participate each week, pitching in various veggies and fruits and toppings and dressings. If you’re curious, follow me on Twitter and you can see a picture of my Salad Club every weekday. When I’m lunching at home, it’s usually kale with toasted nuts and garlic and whatever leftover grain I have in the fridge.

Snacks: Back in my WeightWatchers days, I avoided nuts. Too high in calories, too high in fat, too many Points! Now, I have a variety of nuts on my desk at work and usually eat an ounce or two of nuts every day. They really help bridge the gap between meals and prevent me from snacking on the junk food in the office kitchen.

Dinner: I make all sorts of great things for dinners now. We still have our old standbys (vegetarian tacos & Annie’s mac n’ cheese), but more often than not, I’m surfing the internet for recipes after buying whatever looks good in the store (Sadly, being on the East Coast makes the farmers market thing a little less feasible in the winter. But spring is almost here!!). I think my favorite so far is the stuffed portobello mushrooms (pictured here).

The Bottom Line

I don’t feel like this is a diet. I feel like I’m eating better and tastier foods than I have in my whole life. I’ve eaten more nuts and olive oil in the past 3 months than I have in 3 years. But I’m losing at a steady rate of about a 1/2 pound per week. No, it’s not fast or impressive. But I’m eating amazing food, I’m never hungry (for long!), and I’m not killing myself at the gym to do it. If it takes me 3 years to get down to 140-150 again, that’s fine by me. The weight loss is just a pleasant side effect of my healthstyle, and I have Darya to thank for all her advice and personal coaching.

If you’ve been lurking on the blog and wondering about working with Darya to get your healthstyle on, take the step and do it. I feel so much better and the weight is melting off while I’m eating the most delicious food of my life. You can do it, too.

What is your healthstyle?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How I Lost 20 Pounds In 9 Months Without Dieting

by | Sep 23, 2009
Quarter Pounder

Quarter Pounder

Today one of my best and oldest friends, David Goodman, shares his remarkable story of how he dropped 20 pounds this year so far “without hardly trying.”

He says the influence I’ve had on him through conversations and articles here at Summer Tomato has helped him make better food choices almost subconsciously.

David and I have a long diet history together (he’s the friend from college I mention in the link), and I am honored to have him share his success story with you. Though he says he is only beginning his journey, I think we can all agree he has made tremendous progress already.

Congratulations Dave!

Dr. Darya: Or how I learned to stop worrying about my weight and love food

And drop 20 lbs in nine months.

by David Goodman

In December of 2008 I weighed 225 lbs. As of yesterday, I weigh 205 lbs.

It’s actually hard for me to view this as a big accomplishment. I have been planning to lose a lot more weight. (My goal is to weigh closer to 165 lbs). But the funny part is that while I have been “planning” to lose all this weight, I have, as Darya pointed out, lost a significant amount. And I have lost it, I can assure you, without being on a diet.

Darya told me that this was exactly the kind of weight loss she believed people could achieve by following her advice. She also reminded me that if I kept up this same pace every nine months, it wouldn’t be that long until I reached my goal. And significantly, I certainly won’t be gaining more weight, which is often the trend for people as they get older.

When Darya asked me to think about how I lost these 20 lbs, the reason was hard to pinpoint. Because it hadn’t occurred rapidly, and because I didn’t actively try to lose weight with a restrictive diet, it was almost like it didn’t “count.” Also, because I haven’t reached my ultimate goal, I don’t really feel like a success story just yet.

On the other hand, losing weight without trying is pretty awesome. And if this weight loss keeps up and stays off, I’ll be right where I want to be in 18 months.

So how did this happen, you ask? As far as I can tell, it went like this:

Darya and I have been talking about food for the past year. I have never been much of a cook and I ate out for most of my meals. I think I was eating fast food about 5-10 times a week.

As I talked to Darya and read her blog, I found myself thinking more and more about “good” food. In fact, without really meaning to I started categorizing food into two groups: “real” food and “crap” food. From what I could tell, simply put, real food grows in the ground, or eats food that grows in the ground. Crap food is made in laboratories and/or mass produced. It is fried or filled with sugar or both.

At first my categorizing food as crap didn’t really stop me from eating it. I was used to my routines and didn’t think about actively changing. Talking and thinking about health, nutrition, and good food made me want to behave differently, but I figured I would need to make major life changes to accomplish that, and I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. This is what I meant when I was “planning” to lose weight.

But I think it was hard to read and talk about healthy food and not incorporate some of that into my life. Slowly, without realizing it, I just started eating green vegetables more often. I definitely put more nuts, fish, and brown rice into my diet too. I don’t think I was eating those foods very much at all before I started talking to Darya about healthy food.

(Read more: Get Fit By Becoming A Food Geek)

Most of all, I stopped eating fast food so much and started making more meals at home. This happened so gradually that it is hard to remember the exact chain of events. Nine months ago it was 5-10 times a week for fast food. These days I usually go more than a week without having it at all. Last week I only had fast food once (I had a cheeseburger at In-N-Out. Sorry Darya, but in my defense, I was pretty drunk).

(Read more: Don’t Eat This, Don’t Eat That: Why Fast Food Is Never Healthy)

My eating is still far from perfect. I could do a lot better on the size of my portions and I still eat crap food from time to time. Also, to reach my ultimate goal of 165 lbs I think I am going to have to start exercising more. During the last nine months the most I did was go walking a few times a week. My gym attendance was inconsistent at best. But I think what my experience really shows is that gradual progress is possible with a few basic, common sense changes to what we eat.

Also, the food that I have been making and eating at home has been delicious. I don’t miss the crap food that I haven’t been eating and I look forward to the fresh, healthy food that I’ve been preparing.

Maybe this losing weight thing doesn’t have to be so hard. Maybe it’s just a matter of paying more attention and really being conscious about what we are eating and whether or not it’s really good food.

(Read more: How To Get Started Eating Healthy)

Have you lost weight eating real food? What are the biggest challenges for you?
http://forms.aweber.com/form/30/split_210533730.htm

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,