December through January is the time for diet books, diet articles, and all form of marketing New Year’s resolutions vying for your attention. With all the sweets around the office since the introduction of leftover Halloween candy, the potlucks and special meals with family and friends, the parties and the timeless winter pairing of hot chocolate and well, chocolate, they’re probably barking up the right tree. No new diet books in March? That’s because most of you will have given up on the gym membership (but are too lazy or forget to cancel the membership billing your credit card every month) and the stupid fad diet you were so excited about when the year began. This is not pessimism; it’s statistical truth, and one I’d like you to avoid.
I’ve got nothing to sell you, but I’d like you to consider the following dietary advice:
- Get rid of junk food/trigger foods in your house. If you’re eating enough Cheetos to single-handedly support the company, it’s time for them to go (and by this, I mean any food you cannot stop eating once you start). What about your family? Both you and they can seek the food elsewhere (single-serving bag when out, yes, but in the house, NO. See?).
- Understand that you are not a human garbage can. It was a proud moment for me when I discovered that I could toss the extra shortbread cookies I didn’t want to be eating and wanted out of my house. Or compost. You don’t have to eat things because they’ve turned up, gotten left over, etc. Toss them.
- Put fruits and vegetables first. If you eat salad before the main course, you will eat less, and you will have gotten your vegetables. Fruit makes a great snack when paired with a little protein and fat (like nuts, for example). Eat these first when your taste buds are more awake. Here’s what I mean: You have a burger and a salad or an apple. If you eat the burger first, you will not have a taste for the apple or the salad the way you will if you eat them first. They will not be digested any differently, but the fiber and water will fill you up faster and are good for insulin levels. Not juice though: whole, 3-D fruit. Doing this will automatically help create balance in your diet (you will automatically consume less grain-type carbs, and less protein — the two categories along with sugar that dominate the American diet).
- Brush your teeth after every meal. Do the flossing and everything after dinner. Do a good job. It makes it really tough to eat again when you think you’ll have to do it all over again. Also, you’ll reduce your dental bill, and save your teeth.
- Exercise flexibility but NOT ease when it comes to sugary, fatty foods. Going to a party or fancy dinner and you want dessert? Yes, have some. Love Cheetos? When you’re out, have a little. You must be able to have a little bit of what you love or you will go out of your mind. It’s easier to do this when you don’t have all this stuff at home where it’s easy. When I was losing weight I had a rule that went like this: Get a couple of pieces of candy for dessert from a place like See’s, but don’t eat them until you get home. This is because I would go right back and get more if I didn’t wait. I made a deal that I could go back if I wanted, but first I had to take them home to eat. I was too lazy to ever go back for more, even though I wanted more. See? If you’re hungry and all you have is a moderate amount of anything bad and a lot of good stuff at home, that’s what you’ll eat: What’s easy. So make the good stuff easy to get.
- Plan to shop often, or load that freezer. I loathe grocery shopping. If you work a lot or are like me, get enough fresh vegetables for 3 days, then stock the freezer with the rest. Frozen vegetables pack a lot of nutrients, can be made quickly and a little at a time if you live alone. Frozen fruits make great smoothie material and toppings for yogurt and such.
- More Do’s tomorrow…