Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! Weight Watching Tips for the Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is two days away, and many dieters face the anxiety of all the food that will be available at family gatherings.  They aren't wrong.  Studies have shown that people tend to add one to two pounds of weight between Thanksgiving and New Years.

What to do then?  Here are some tips to keep in mind for sticking to your diet during the holidays

1) Stick to your same breakfast and lunch.  If you go out for a big brunch or a big lunch, you are going to have to cut way back on your holiday dinner.  To not offend Aunt Verdell by not eating the sweet potato fluff at dinner, don't blow out your calories at brunch earlier in the day.

2) Mind your cocktails.  Yes, alcohol makes the holidays more festive for many, but alcohol represents empty calories.  Many cocktails contain hundreds of calories each (margaritas, in particular), so sticking to wine spritzers and continuing to drink water throughout the day will help to reduce total calorie consumption at parties and family gatherings.

3) Remember how to portion out your plate.  Although there are many yummy starch side dishes during the holidays, your plate should be allocated 25% meat, 25% starch and 50% salads and green side dishes.  You can have a small taste of everything on the holiday table and not blow your diet if you keep your perspective on your plate and how much of each food group you are eating.

Enjoying the holidays and all they have to offer does not mean having to move up a pant size in January if you take a few steps early on to be mindful of how you are eating and drinking.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Twinkie Diet Makes a Legitimate Point

The Twinkie Diet got more press this week. In this classroom study, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate a diet of protein shakes, canned vegetables, multi-vitamins and snack foods like Twinkies and chips for two months and lost 27 pounds.

What was his point? That losing weight is purely a mathematical equation. It has to do with consistently eating fewer calories than your body needs to burn each day and that the underlying food is irrelevant, at least as long as some of it is actually healthy.

So why all the emphasis on protein diets or vegan diets or low fat diets? They are all means to give people foods that may be more energy rich to drive less snacking. If a carbohydrate rich diet leads to a person being hungry every hour and a half and, as a result eating 3000 calories a day then, it is believed and has been proven in statistically large studies of dieters, eating protein at each meal makes it easier to get through the day and eat only 1800 calories.

If you are very diligent about food logging and very disciplined about your caloric intake, then you too can diet while eating only Oreos, Tostitos and Twinkies. That just isn't a reality for most people. Frequently, once they start snacking, dieters feel badly about abandoning their diet and take a plunge off the deep end of their diet--eating the entire family sized bag of Tostitos in one sitting, with cheese dip--rather than negotiating with themselves about how the snack will now mean that what they planned to eat for the rest of the day may have to change.

I think that the Twinkie diet makes a legitimate point that dieting does not have to mean suffering, and giving up all the foods you used to like to eat. However, it does mean a full-time commitment to negotiating caloric tables and sticking to your target caloric intake every day.

Reference Article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-twinkie-20101115,0,405998.story

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dairy Management and the Big Government Cheese Conspiracy

It seems to me that there are multi-billion dollar opportunities to end government programs that are at cross purposes and lower the Federal budget. The most recent is Dairy Management, a subsidiary of the Department of Agriculture, as reported in the New York Times today, spending millions to persuade Americans to eat more cheese to boost prices and consumption for the US dairy industry (not to mention the millions in Federal farm subsidies) and the National Institute of Health telling us that the reason we consume too much fat in our diet is cheese. This is no different than the Federal government extracting penalty taxes from the cigarette manufacturers to pay for anti-smoking campaigns while continuing to subsidize tobacco growers.

The hypocrisy doesn't end there, when one considers the substantial subsidies that have been paid to ethanol producers. Ethanol does not become a cost effective fuel alternative until oil is $120 a barrel. So the Federal goverment subsidizes its production at the same time that it increases the percentage required to be blended into our gasoline, driving production of a heavily subsidized product. Moreover, ethanol takes corn out of the food supply, whether to feed humans or livestock, to burn in our cars.

I hope that the newly re-empowered Republicans are willing to have the guts to say no to these conflicting programs, cutting them back completely to zero, rather than only limiting program growth. How about gutting Dairy management? Repeal the tax on farmers that is used, along with over $5 million of US taxpayer money, to finance its budget and let Dominoes figure out on its own how to make a better tasting pizza. That will save $136 million right away.