Category Archives: Diet Tips

Six Reasons to Give Up On Your Weight Loss Program

I read over the past several posts here and got the impression that a lot of this stuff sounds pretty serious. So, to counteract some of that seriousness, I tried to write this one in a lighter vein. . . we’ll see if it works!

Six reasons to give up on your weight loss program include:

  1. It will mean you won’t eat things that are good for you. . . in the car, in the bath, on the bus and in that bistro with the great biscotti and lattes.
  2. It will make you less difficult from now on. How many waiters have looked skyward when you started asking for special foods and cooking methods in order to meet your calorie and nutrient restrictions?
  3. If things get too bulky, you can always take on one of those “lose 50 pounds in 10 minutes” diet plans. They must work for somebody because there’s a bundle of them out there!
  4. You are tired of seeing your blender on the counter waiting to provide that morning smoothie – which, by the way, is not the color of real food (if gray-brown-green-orange is actually a color.)
  5. You always feel guilty leaving food on a plate in a restaurant. At those prices, we should eat it all and then some!
  6. You are ready to give in to your family and friends and eat like they do. After all, they’re always telling you “Why are you on a diet, you just look comfortable!”

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that funny, but I did smile in a couple of places. How about you?


Okay, 3 More Myths About Weight Loss!

Revisiting the myths from yesterday, I think we need to include a few more. . .

Myth #4: There are pills that can help us lose weight. Right, and there’s a Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny too! The use of pills, remedies and recipes to control weight goes back to the 1800s (have a look at this one!) and their effectiveness hasn’t changed. . . Science cannot improve on the tried-and-true formula, which is less calories + more exercise = weight loss!

Myth #5: Eat 2 or fewer times per day – less calories is part of the formula, right? WRONG! Two things work against this myth: 1. our body needs food to produce energy to work and keep itself in operation, so it will wait until we feed it something and hold on to that food with a vengeance. 2. Eating less causes our body to go after all parts of itself for energy, not just fat. . . so we lose muscle mass as well as fat. This isn’t healthy, and will make us less able to move around, less able to exercise, less able to lose weight in the future. Vicious circle, isn’t it?

Myth #6: Eating salads is healthy and will knock the pounds off. Well, maybe. But if you’re thinking salad with salad dressing, salad in a restaurant, salad with all the trimmings, you may as well eat something you like. Several days ago, I wrote about a fictional woman’s one day eating routine and mentioned a Caesar Salad for dinner. That salad weighed in at 1,190 calories. Applebees has a regular Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad that comes in at 1,240 calories. Believe this myth only at your own peril!

And that’s all I’ll say about myths for a while!

3 Myths About Weight Loss

I was going over some old posts on the net about weight loss, and read one from the Diet Channel written in 2006 that talked about the reasons why we don’t lose weight. I had forgotten the story that weight loss is not like emptying a bucket with a ladle and it made me think about other weight loss myths (or misunderstandings) that get in the way of successful weight loss.

Myth #1: To recount the bucket story: “A scoop out of the bucket today, tomorrow, next week will eventually empty the bucket.” But, in our bodies, the reality is quite different – the harder we try to diet, the more intently our body fights back to preserve itself! This is why it is desirable (and it sounds like a broken record) that an increase in exercise should accompany a loss in calories. Our body will react less to increased work than it will to a decrease in calories, so that’s why we hear that ‘exercise‘ word over and over again.

Myth #2: This one should be Myth Number 1! It is extremely unlikely that we will lose ’30 pounds in 30 days’, or ’20 pounds in 20 days’, or even ’10 pounds in 10 days.’ Even more unlikely, even if we could hit those numbers, is the reality that we can and will keep it off.  Contrary to what we see in every weight loss product ad, and what is happening on The Biggest Loser, permanent weight loss requires a lifestyle change, an understanding of how to change our body’s reaction to food and exercise slowly over a long period of time, and an even bigger understanding of how we got to be over-weight in the first place.

Myth #3: Fat and carbohydrates are bad for us. Sorry South Beach and friends, but a healthy diet includes ‘good’ non-saturated fats (that’s why they’re called essential fatty acids!) and ‘good’ carbohydrates. Simple carbs (white sugar, corn syrup and the like) are BAD, complex carbs (fresh vegetables and fruits, multi-grains and so on) are GOOD. They provide vitamins, trace elements, minerals and fiber – which also helps to make you feel full, but that’s a story for a different time.

Myth #4: That there are only 3 myths about weight loss is a joke. . . there are thousands, but the 3 myths above are ones that we face nearly every day.

Keep fighting!

Take Control of Your Portions

I hate restaurants! Okay, maybe that’s a bit strong but it took me a long time to find out that they were definitely not my friends. . .

Let’s have a quick little story:

Cindy lives by herself and works in an office about 35 minutes from her home by transit. She has to be at work by 8:00 am and has a 15 minute coffee break at 10 am and lunch from noon to 12:30. In the afternoon, she has another break at 2:30 and goes home at 4:30. By that time, she is tired, stressed out by work worries, difficult clients and the ride home on the hot, overloaded bus.

That doesn’t sound too different than my day. . . how about yours?

Let’s look at the food choices that Cindy made during the day.

Cindy climbed out of bed at 6:30 am to be on the 7:15 bus – no time for breakfast so she got a Latte and a scone from Starbucks beside the bus stop. At 10, she stopped for a coffee and finished the second half of her ‘breakfast’ scone. Finally, at lunch, she rushed to the Golden Arches near her office. She was starving, so had a burger and fries and a chocolate shake and rushed back in time for the afternoon’s clients. At 2:30, she had a coffee (when was it made – tastes like 8 hours ago??) and bought a cookie pack from the vending machine to carry her until dinner. Home at 5:15, change clothes, drop in front of the television for the news and then think about dinner. . . Cindy is tired, irritable and faced with an empty fridge, so she calls a friend to see if a dinner date at the local restaurant is a possibility. What luck! Dinner with Diana is a go – and consists of a Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken and a ‘special’ coffee.

Doesn’t sound bad in terms of quantity of food for the day, but let’s have a closer look at the ‘real’ portions, that is, the number of calories and other significant ingredients in what Cindy ate, and for now we’ll ignore the quality of the food that was eaten. . .

Breakfast: none. The human machine runs on empty until it gets an ulcer-building Caffè Latte (190 calories, 7 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs, 12 grams of protein) and a blueberry scone (460 calories, 22 grams of fat, 61 grams of carbs, 7 grams of protein.) At lunch, Cindy has a burger (540 calories, 29 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbs, 24 grams of protein), an order of fries (560 calories, 27 grams of fat, 74 grams of carbs, 6 grams of protein) and a shake (760 calories, 18 grams of fat, 136 grams of carbs, 15 grams of protein.) Afternoon break was 2 Oreo cookies (320 calories, 7 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein) and dinner was a salad  with chicken breast (1,190 calories, 75 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs, 68 grams of protein) and a coffee with Kahlua (182 calories, 0 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbs, 0 grams of protein.) Totals for the day: (4,202 calories, 185 grams of fat, 398 grams of carbs, 134 grams of protein.)

Hold it! Let’s look at those numbers again! 4,202 calories and no large meals? Two and a half times the daily requirement for fat? One and a quarter times the daily requirement for carbohydrates and almost double the daily requirement for protein? And all that happened without a great deal of fiber, nutrients, vitamins, trace minerals. . . What the h*ll?

This is the long way around to explaining what “real” portions are. Real portions are the amount of fuel that you are putting in rather than the volume of products going into your mouth. It is not difficult to calculate what you need on a daily basis and then adjust what you eat by reading the fine print on the Nutrition Information panel on packaged foods and on the wall in fast food outlets. We have developed a Real Portion Calculator that you can use to check your diet and track your intake of fats, carbs and proteins which we will unveil in the next couple of weeks. . . you will be able to use it to keep track of your real food portions.

No more thinking you are doing “almost” the right thing when you’re actually eating way too much. You will be able to really take control of your portions! Good luck.

Weight Loss Buddies

Even though we all got to the size we are by putting food into our own mouths, and we stayed at the size we are because we, alone, made the decision to not exercise, there is no rule that says we have to tackle our weight loss all by ourselves! One of the easiest ways to keep on the path you have set for yourself is to find a weight loss buddy. It doesn’t have to be someone who also wants to lose a few pounds – just someone who, as a friend, will understand the difficulties of the challenge that you face, will provide unqualified support when you are feeling overwhelmed, and will challenge you with tough love when that is the order of the day!

For some, there are local support groups like Overeaters Anonymous. For others, it may be a registered dietition at the local health unit or clinic. Whatever your need, there should be someone out there who wants to help!

If all else fails, turn to the internet. There are numerous forums and chat groups that tackle weight loss and could provide some support. If you can’t find anyone, leave a comment here –  someone will read it and respond because we’re all in this together!

Weight Loss the Healthy Way

Part of the frustration of trying a new diet often is the chore of constantly monitoring our health and nutrition. The key to meeting weight loss goals is not only in the change of diet, but also in the commitment or will to stick to it.

Our lives revolve around food – it’s everywhere we look. As consumers, we are drawn in by ads that promote fast food for cost and convenience, and processed foods for quick food choices. One of the hardest things about our food addiction is that our bodies must have food and water!

Here are some tips that will help you lose weight as well as keep it off:

  • Weight loss should not only be done in a healthy way, but also in a way that isn’t a drastic change in your diet and lifestyle.
  • Be sure to stick to a healthy eating plan. Your body feels the most satisfied from foods that have a lot of fibre and low protein.
  • Try to remove processed foods slowly from your diet, replacing them, one-by-one with healthy alternatives.
  • Get rid of the unhealthy food items from your pantry and cupboards. Getting them out of the house and replacing them with healthy ones forces you to eat the healthier alternatives.
  • Don’t expect to lose a lot of weight all at once. Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Remember to reward yourself (but not with food!) for the changes you are making on your way to better health.

Lose Weight and Keep It Off

Everyone is at a different stage in their weight loss adventure. Some are beginning, full of ambition and commitment, some are seasoned and challenged with staying the course, and some are actually near their goal, beginning to bask in the glory of a battle fought and won. Where ever we are in the journey, we can look at others and feel some pride in our achievements and some envy that others have gone out ahead. Throughout the weight loss crusades, the basic weapons are simple: less food and more exercise. But for those who are at or near their goal weight, the challenge becomes different, and in some cases, more complicated – how to keep the weight off, now that we’re at our goal.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, approximately 20 percent of people who lost at least 10 percent of their body weight, kept it off for at least a year using a few simple steps. Here are five strategies that the study says help to keep off the pounds you worked so hard to lose:

  • Be physically active – popular activities included walking, cycling, weightlifting and aerobic exercises
  • Maintain a consistent eating pattern with a low-calorie, low-fat diet. The study showed people went out for meals less than three times per week with less than one of those meals being ‘fast-food.’
  • Eat breakfast regularly – eating breakfast boosts your metabolism, which helps you avoid mid-morning snacks as well as snacks later in the day.
  • Monitor your weight regularly – catching a couple of pounds is easier than letting it go to 10 or 15. Researchers noted that participants commonly gained a pound or two, but that early adjusting kept the task achievable.
  • Don’t fall off the wagon – don’t be detered by fluctuations, catch them early and stay on track.