Category Archives: Diet

This %#!^*$*! Thing is Only a Tool

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That’s my scale. Damned thing added 3 more pounds from my holiday celebrating than I had anticipated. But instead of cursing the scale, I thanked it. It reminded me I was the one who’d supplied the higher readout.

Although it may seem so, a scale doesn’t render judgement. It only offers feedback. And a small amount of feedback at that. The numbers on the scale define your health as well as the balance of your checking account does your credit score. Important, but not all encompassing.

I prefer judging health by overall fitness, clothing size and fit, the mirror, daily energy, sleep habits, and self-confidence. You shouldn’t need a scale to know your weight is going up.

Yet, shows like The Biggest Loser make it seem as though the numbers that peer up at us determine our self worth. The numbers don’t matter, what you do with them does.

So use the scale as it was intended, as an early warning system when you’re veering off course. The highway rumble strips of dieting.

Diet Trend Alert: Fasting

fasting

In the unending battle against the bulge, purported dieting breakthroughs are announced with regularity.  I think I’ve spotted the first of 2013.

Fasting, in this form, is abstaining from food for several hours for health benefits, not religious dogma.  Fasting proponents suggest a key contributor to the obesity epidemic is the cue to eat at all hours.  To wit: Taco Bell’s promotion of the “4th meal“.

So fasting is used to limit your food intake to a smaller daily window.  For example, a Men’s Health article and accompanying book, (ah, synergistic marketing) touts limiting food intake to an 8-hour window.  Caloric intake for the remaining 16 hours is discouraged.

By effectively skipping “4th meal” you not only limit calories but also force your body to use fat stores for fuel.  There’s even purported evidence it can decrease your risk of developing cancer and other diseases.

My Two Cents.

What your telling me is if I fast, essentially eating less food, I’ll lose weight?  Remarkable! (Insert eye-roll).   Ultimately, fasting as a diet strategy is as groundbreaking as announcing, “people post dumb shit on Facebook”.

But, can it work for you?  Well, yeah, it could.  We all have our habits and hangups with dieting.  Perhaps limiting your food intake to an 8 hour window will help kick-start your healthful eating in 2013.  But I’m not convinced.

See, what fasting isn’t is a panacea for the obesity epidemic.  Unfortunately that’s how it’ll likely be reported and marketed.  Look no further than the Men’s Health ad for its 8-Hour Diet Book:

Discover how to eat as what you like, as much as you like, ….and lose up to 15 pounds in 6 weeks!

Shame on Men’s Health.  I thought they knew better.

Experiment with fasting if you wish, but as always, eating more minimally processed food in reasonable portions is the best option for sustained dietary success.  This includes avoiding the Taco Bell drive through at midnight.

What I Gain from Doughnut Day

IMG_0280Every New Year’s Day my wife and I indulge in doughnuts.  Specifically, a whole box of doughnuts.  All in the above photo will be downed within 24 hours by two people.  Doughnut Day is a once a year treat.  And is the highlight of what has become for me the fattest day of the year.

See, I don’t always take my own advice regarding the holidays.  I eat too much.  Drink too much booze.  And rarely exercise.  Perhaps that makes me typical.

Doughnut Day is the culmination of it all.  After weeks of poor dietary habits and laziness today I’ve reached my unhealthiest zenith   Or, more accurately, nadir.

But my indiscretions the past several weeks Always provides me with something.  Motivation.  I cannot wait to work hard in the gym.  I cannot wait to fill up on veggies and lean meat.  I cannot wait to not feel mildly hungover.

This isn’t about resolutions.  This is about knowing myself.  I’ve repeated this pattern before so I don’t fret about the 3 pounds my frame has added recently.  I’m confident in my ability to reactivate the good habits.

Here’s the lesson for this new year, instead of a resolution, concentrate on knowing thyself.  Learn how YOU handle your diet and health.  Concentrate on what motivates you.  What slows your progress.  Filter out the rest.

Now, which doughnut to start with?

Frozen Junk Food has Gone Too Far

There’s no way we’ve become this lazy.  Or this stressed for time.  I understand  junky food is designed to be quick and easy, but this is ridiculous.

I spotted this at Target last week..20121206_182029

A frozen nacho kit.  With directions for microwave heating.  My god, what have we done?  Are we really unable to put forth any effort in preparing food?  Even easy-to-make nachos?  Brown beef, spread chips on tray, sprinkle cheese, add beef, broil for 3 minutes…Bang, you’ve got nachos.

Michael Polian, author of Food Rules, says if you want junk food, make it yourself.  His idea is if you put the effort into making say, french fries, you’ll eat it less often.  A solid idea.  If not widely practiced.

But nachos are a loop hole to this plan.  10 minutes!  And you can follow his advice and still eat poorly!  Unless he supports making your own tortilla chips.  In that case, his advice goes from reasonable to unpractical.

So please, don’t microwave frozen nachos.  I’m asking as a fellow human.  Keep some things sacred.

 

Willpower Sucks

Put a chicken wing in front of me and I’ll eat it.  Tell me to resist and I’ll eat two.  Smothered in bleu cheese.  Because of this failing, I do my best not to surround myself with chicken wings.  (Mondays through Thursdays…)

I have no willpower.  So I don’t count on it.  Neither should you.

Using willpower as a strategy for limiting your junk food intake is fool-hearty and ineffective.  You will fail, admit it.

A better plan is to avoid willpower’s inevitable failure by limiting your exposure to those foods that test your resolve.  Start with my oft repeated removal of junk food from your cabinet.   Get junk food away from you and give your willpower a chance.

Alas, junk food is often put in our path despite our best efforts.  And it certainly seems to pop up when we’re at our most holiday season hungry and stressed.

Thankfully, when caught in the web of holiday junk food, there are strategies to give your willpower a boost.  Real Simple magazine gives several great ideas.  From defeating the holiday party snacks to outsmarting the mall food court.  Take heed.

 

 

 

Your Diet Firewall

Before the recent election, political analysts referred to Ohio being Mr Obama’s “firewall”.  The idea being if he won Ohio, he would have a good chance of getting the result he wanted.  This isn’t a political blog, but the firewall concept can be usefully applied to your diet.

Your diet firewall is a simple habit (or habits) you always use to allow your health to fall into place.  A solid firewall prevents outside forces, like holidays, from upending your diet.  Or your hopes of reelection.

My firewall is three rules from which I rarely waiver:

  1. No junk food in the house.  I’ve discussed this before.  But it’s importance bears repeating.
  2. Plan my meals.  Another oft repeated mantra.  Plan healthy,  prep healthy, and you’ll eat healthy.
  3. Your stomach is the size of fist, portion accordingly.  After a meal you’re supposed to feel comfortable and sated, not bloated and full.

Already have a firewall?  Share with the class!

This Blog is Obvious

My Favorite Kiwis

Last week a blog reader in New Zealand, commented that she enjoys the blog because the info and advice I post reminds her of the obvious.  This whole time I thought I was forging a new direction.  A Magellan of mealtime.

Actually, Claire’s comment perfectly sums up my philosophy on dieting and health.  We know all everything we need about what to eat, how to eat, and why.  Quite unfortunately, there will not be a new discovery linking beer, chicken wings, and pizza to robust health.  Wholesome food has won the day.

But you knew that already.  It is, in fact, obvious.  What may not be obvious is how to eat less bad stuff and more healthy stuff.  Here too my input may be obvious, but I’ll continue to share it if only for my benefit.

So onward! My blog sabbatical is over.  Twice a week I’ll post fairly obvious observations on diet and health, hopefully with original insights.  No 16th century Portuguese explorers necessary.