Relax, this blog is not about to turn itself into a boring diet blog. I just want to share some things that have helped me when I've tried to put on the brakes after a month long binge with food. It also seems to be what is on everybody's mind this week so let's talk about it.
If you are feeling like I am, right this minute on January 2nd, you are probably nauseated at the thought of sauces, cookies and fancy hors d'oeuvres. If I keep on eating like this, I will be keeping company with the hippos at the Atlanta Zoo by next spring. So cutting back is a must, not only for the figure but for your health as well. That doesn't mean you have to eat bad stuff. People think that if a recipe is good, it has to be fattening. Think again...
In my past life I used to travel all over the world and stay at the best hotels and eat wherever I pleased. Except for my trips to Brazil, I always came back a couple of pounds lighter. Why Brazil? their food is awfully good but quite salty and this lady tends to accumulate water like mad. All this got me thinking about the reasons for this surprising weight loss and I came to the conclusion that preservatives and bad meal timing were the main culprits in making me gain weight. Now I know what you are going to say... it was all the walking you did! People in Europe and Asia walk more than we do, that is a fact; but I lived in New York City at the time and walking is part of everyday life there. So that wasn't really the difference.
In the Far East dessert is non existent. It's just not part of the equation. It's mango this or that for dessert, and very few other choices, none of them worth adding extra calories for. In Europe you eat sweets differently. Ice cream and cakes and cookies are eaten in the middle of the day. Try to get an ice cream or a gelato after 6 in Paris, Venice or Rome and you are out of luck. After 6:00 p.m. you'd be hard pressed to find a fresh tart or cookie for sale or a patisserie or boulangerie open for business . Next time you are abroad, check the menu at any restaurant and tell me if you see cake or pie for dessert in the evening. Dessert is usually chocolate or cooked fruit of some sort. Chocolate tarts are almost flourless and souffles are not as fattening as a big slice of cake or pie. Cheese of course, helps the digestion. In England, scones, sandwiches and cookies are for tea and that happens before 6 o'clock. Get the picture?
Rice and beans are usually served at lunch in Spain and Latin American, except for Christmas or New Year's Eve. Fried foods are eaten occasionally and usually for lunch. People don't snack in the middle of the day in any of these countries...they have planned meals, including tea. They drink wine mostly, and little hard liquor. Soda's are to be enjoyed occasionally, if at all. Water is what you drink when you are thirsty. And portions, yes, PORTIONS are half or more of what they are here in the States. They eat nothing frozen just what is in season. But they eat well, and you hardly ever hear anyone going en regime.
So throughout the years I have devised a plan for myself that seems to work when I want it to work.
When I want to lose weight, or at least stop that scale, here's what I (try to) do.
- Fruit and coffee in the morning and lots of water until noon.
- No heavy carb meals (risottos beans, pasta ) after 6 p. m.
- No hard liquor, red wine on occasion
- At least 8 glasses of water a day. Keep a bottle of room temperature water by your side and sip away as you work or watch tv. I even take it in the car with me.
- No desserts, bread, potatoes or pasta at least for a week. Afterwards, occasionally and preferably for lunch. Bye bye cookies!
- Have more Asian type meals for dinner
- Eat Beef only 3 times a week
- Eat a big salad at least once a day
- Accentuate the vinegar in salad dressings
- Drink Cuban coffee or espresso after lunch to raise metabolism in the afternoon
- Watch those fat grams and try to keep to less than 30/day. Reduce butter! cook with olive oil
- Substitute whole grain for regular pastas and especially bread
- Read ingredients and watch out for preservatives
- Reduce portions. Eat half of what you normally eat or use a dessert instead of a dinner plate
- Take a walk at least once a day!
- Have dinner before 8:00 p.m
- Plan your meals ahead so you are not tempted later!
- NO diet drinks! This was the only advice my oncologist gave me after chemo (which believe it or not makes you gain weight!) to lose the 15 lbs. I gained (I didn't) Your body cannot differentiate between real and fake sugar and when you consume diet drinks it wants more because it is not getting the real thing.
- No snacks. Eat your 3 meals plus afternoon tea if you must.
- Think THIN!
Now, I am not a doctor or a dietitian, just a lifelong sufferer of weight gain when I let myself go for a few months. These are the things that have served me well. I no longer go on diets or even tell myself I am on one. I just pay attention to what I put in my mouth and somehow, after a week or two the extra pounds begin to come off and my mind readjusts itself to the new regime.
I'd love to hear what works for you!
Artist: Fernando Botero