Monday, January 3, 2011

20 Easy Tips For Slimming Down And Eating Well

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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.

  1. Fruit and coffee in the morning and lots of water until noon.
  2. No heavy carb meals (risottos beans,  pasta ) after 6 p. m.
  3. No hard liquor, red wine on occasion
  4. 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.
  5. No desserts, bread, potatoes or pasta at least for a week.  Afterwards, occasionally and preferably for lunch.  Bye bye cookies!
  6. Have more Asian type meals for dinner
  7. Eat Beef only 3 times a week
  8. Eat a big salad at least once a day
  9. Accentuate the vinegar in salad dressings
  10. Drink Cuban coffee or espresso after lunch to raise metabolism in the afternoon
  11. Watch those fat grams and try to keep to less than 30/day.  Reduce butter! cook with olive oil
  12. Substitute whole grain  for regular pastas and  especially bread
  13. Read ingredients and watch out for preservatives
  14. Reduce portions.  Eat half of what you normally eat or use a dessert instead of a dinner plate
  15. Take a walk at least once a day!
  16. Have dinner before 8:00 p.m
  17. Plan your meals ahead so you are not tempted later!
  18. 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.
  19. No snacks.  Eat your 3 meals plus afternoon tea if you must.
  20. Think THIN! 
If you check the main courses in the Master Recipe List, I guarantee you can eat 90% of them, as long as you eat in moderation and have a light lunch and breakfast that day.

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


  1. OH my goodness! The pictures fit perfectly with how I feel! ^^, My daily walks with the dog is also postponed, her paws are cracked from the salt!
    Salads for me! I have kinda a goal I set for myself.. gotta be a tough nail to make it. Starting.. tomorrow.. lol!

  2. It's going to sound pretty obvious - but eat less and exercise more. Of course the older one gets the harder it is to shed unwanted kilos, but the upside is that your appetite should diminish, and I've found for a couple of years now, since I shed 12 kilos, I just cannot eat very much. Happily too, I enjoy (serious) exercising 4-5 times a week, and have no excuse not to with a gym and pool on the premises.

  3. I discovered your blog through Reggie Darling a couple of months ago and am thoroughly enjoying it. Looking forward to your plans to broaden your writing beyond just recipes as well. I'm not quite at the stage in life that you are (43, married with a 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son) but find that your writing and topics really resonate with me and I find you very inspiring! You're a good example of someone who is a true renaissance lady, not afraid to reinvent herself at every stage in life and follow her bliss. Thank you.—Hope

  4. Your "plan" is the same one I follow when I want to shed a few pounds and adjust my metabolism. Thank you for an enjoyable post about a weighty problem :)

  5. Birds

    You can't imagine the money these paintings change hands at...maybe we shouldn't lose all that weight!


    How I hate to exercise! rather cut back on the food than get on a treadmill. That is basically my problem, not the food intake. But at my age, don't see that changing any time soon!


    I get bored every so often being me and that's when I know it's time for a change. But it's quite exhausting, really, specially at my age! I am delighted to hear you are enjoying the blog. Thank you.


    I's so obvious and so easy to fall off the cliff time and time again.

  6. When the Fernando Botero paintings unfolded on my screen, I thought this was going to be fun. I was lucky enough to see an exhibit of his work several years ago.He does challenge and amuse. I'm thinking it may be easier to move to Brazil than to lose these extra pounds at 60! (So agree with the need to give up diet drinks...thought I need AA for that!) A Botero sculpture sits outside the University of Oklahoma Fine Arts Museum. Thought you might enjoy this:

  7. home,

    I am not surprised. His sculptures have appeared in Park Avenue, the Champs Elysees and the gardens of Monaco!

  8. I loved this post and Botero work was perfect. I am going to try our method. Thanks for the tips.

  9. Good tips!

    I love the art! I have one of his prints in my bathroom.

  10. I was just in Rome this past September and the gelato shops were very busy late into the night (as were the restaurants), with lineups of locals and tourists at 9 pm.
    I've noticed that, though Europeans eat late at night, they eat less and walk more than the average North American. This may be why I did not encounter a plump Roman at Giolitti.


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