The Best Diet

Food is like sex: when you abstain, even the worst stuff begins to look good.
~Beth McCollister


I know there are a million different diets out there and there are people who can prove that each diet works, but when you come right down to it, you don’t need them. It’s a simple scientific fact: your weight directly corresponds to how many calories you eat vs. how many you expend. To lose weight, you need to be using up more calories than you eat. To maintain, you need to have equal numbers. That’s it. Honestly. The hardest part of a diet like this is to figure out how many calories you need and calculating the calories in each food you are eating.

They say the average caloric intake for a man is 2,000 calories and is 1,800 for a woman. A friend recently told me that she heard (probably from Weight Watchers) that it is generally your weight multiplied by 7 to maintain. So you’d multiply your goal weight by 7 to get your calorie intake. I don’t think I agree with this. Everything I’ve ever consulted–including doctors–says never to take in less than 1,200 calories a day. According to that math, that would mean it would be for a 171-pound person… and that’s not right.

I suggest you try a few websites like Calories Per Hour.com and check (it’s free). They have a place where you can figure out how many calories you burn a day (including calories burned while sleeping and showering!) along with figuring out how many calories come in food that doesn’t have nutritional information on it (like apples). They even include many fast food places.

If you don’t want to go all out and do a hard-core diet, an easy thing to do is once you figure out how many calories you eat a day (keep a journal for a week… seriously!), then get rid of 250 per day and exercise 250 off a day. You’ll see results in no time!

Just because you are on a diet doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself (though your body may feel hungry because it is used to more food that you don’t need and/or it is playing tricks on you because it craves more because you know you can’t have it). In fact, starving yourself will have the opposite effect. If you skip a meal (breakfast, anyone?), your body starts to go into starvation mode and will actually store all the calories in your next few meals because it isn’t sure if it will get another meal or not. The absolute best thing to do is eat six meals a day. Yes, I said six.

If you are at a loss for things to eat (especially if you have a family that won’t like eating the same thing more than once a week), check out Kraft Foods. They have an awesome list of recipes and you can even search by low-calorie recipes!

Here’s a sample of my regular day:

Breakfast- 165 calories
-Cereal with skim milk

Snack- 100 calories
-The 100-calorie packs are good as are yogurt cups (Dannon Light ‘n Fit is only 60 calories!)banana.JPG

Lunch- 300 calories
– Turkey, cheese (fat free), lettuce, cucumbers and Grey Poupon on a fat free, whole wheat wrap (the wrap has as many calories as one piece of whole wheat bread!)
– Fruit (that I bought and cut up myself, generally 1 cup=100 calories)
– Lettuce with cucumbers and fat-free raspberry vinegarette dressing

Snack- 100 calories
– Quaker sugar-free oatmeal has only 110 calories and it really fills you up!

Dinner- 435 calories
– Grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast (on a George Foreman so all the fat drains) with lemon-pepper seasoning
– Mixed veggies, steamed
– Salad with raspberry vinegarette dressing
– Steamed rice

Snack-100 calories
– Most cereals you can have 3/4 to 1 cup and eat it dry for this. Or try a smoothie!

See? Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. You can really cut out a lot of calories (and spend them eating more food so you don’t feel hungry) by switching to skim milk, trying fat-free cheese and generally finding whatever you can that has less calories. Ten or 20 calories here and there really do add up and allow you more at mealtimes.

The best thing to do while figuring out how much you eat is keep a journal for a week. You think you know how much you really eat? Bet you don’t! Eat what you normally do and keep a log of it… make sure to check portion sizes and get the proper calorie count. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised. I sure was.

Same thing while you are on the diet… keep a journal. It makes you accountable for staying on the diet. Don’t worry if you mess up, get over it and move on. Now, I’m going to be doing something that I didn’t the last time around: I’m going to let myself cheat once a week and go out with B to eat. If you don’t allow yourself some “cheating,” you’ll go overboard when you do and you’ll feel bad about it. But don’t go overboard on the cheating… one tiny sliver of a piece of cake, etc. And only do it once a week 🙂

Now, another thing that I haven’t really mentioned is exercising. You must do it. The website I mentioned above will help you figure out what you burn by doing different things (including vacuuming, mowing the lawn and doing the dishes!). The national recommendations are now 30 minutes a day to maintain your weight and 1 hour a day to lose.

Good luck!


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