Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Diet Recovery Strategies: The Veggie Night

Want to jump-start your diet week? Try a Veggie Night on Sunday night. Or perhaps you had an over-indulgence at a barbeque or picnic. A Veggie Night will re-set your eating clock and get you back to clean and mean. Like a Protein Day, a Veggie Night is just what it sounds like: a night where your dinner is comprised of simply vegetables. (You can find lots of details and suggestions about Veggie Nights in The Wall Street Diet, page 88.) Some of my clients routinely use Veggie Nights one night a week until they reach their goal weight. Others reserve their Veggie Nights as a re-set tool. Whichever works for you… A Veggie Night dinner might be a baked white or sweet potato and two measured cups of steamed vegetables. This meal can be on your plate in under ten minutes if you use your trusty microwave.

Diet Recovery Strategy: The Protein Day

A Protein Day is a super-effective tool that will help you re-set your eating patterns. (It’s described in detail on page 87 of The Wall Street Diet) It’s nothing complicated but it’s surprisingly effective. My clients especially like to use it after a trip or a vacation where they’ve overindulged. A Protein Day is just what it says: a day where you eat primarily protein. For example, breakfast might be 2 eggs, any style, or a 4 to 6-egg-white vegetable omelet. Lunch could be a grilled chicken, fish or any protein over greens with a very, very light dressing. Dinner would be the same as lunch plus perhaps some steamed vegetables. These meals are filling and readily available anywhere. A Protein Day will get you back on diet track.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Banning the "Pickable, Poppable, Dippable, Unstoppable"

Eating is fun. Eating is sometimes unconscious. Put those two facts together with large quantities of food and you’ve got a diet disaster in the making. You know what I’m talking about: those chips in laundry bag sizes, those chocolate samplers that layer on forever… It’s just too tempting. Even healthy foods like cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks and hummus dips can wreak havoc when eaten in large quantities. Many of my clients are champion “mindless eaters” and, when faced with a big bowl of, well, just about anything, they’ll keep going until they reach the bottom. The solution to this is obvious: don’t expose yourself to the Pickable, Poppable... See The Wall Street Diet, page 29 for some specific Pickable, Poppable solutions. But it’s helpful just to recognize that you can’t have vast quantities of food around. Rely on portion-controlled snacks. But small quantities of items like energy bars. Don’t keep a drawer full of healthy, tempting snacks at work. And when you put out the bowl of cherry tomatoes out for the kids, keep it out of your reach!

Friday, May 16, 2008

How to Recover from the “Might-as-Well” Day

We’ve all had “Might-as-Well” Days. We begin brilliantly with a healthy breakfast, a light lunch of a salad with a protein and a piece of fruit in the afternoon. And then (can you hear the horror movie sound track?) you come undone. There’s a birthday party down the hall or the Girl Scouts make their cookie delivery or, well, you know what happens next. You justify eating just about anything because you already blew your diet and you “might as well”. You’ve begun a downward spiral that will only end when your head hits the pillow. This can add up to many, many calories. To say nothing of the bad feeling of failure and frustration. Don’t let it happen to you! Don’t be a “I’ll start again on Monday” dieter. Start again right now! How? See The Wall Street Diet, pages 31, 40, 87, etc. for tons of “Might-as-Well” tips, but for most people, just recognizing a “Might-as-Well” day for what it is helps you firm up resolve even after you’ve had that whopping piece of cake or half box of Thin Mints. Stop and think: isn’t it better to stop at 300 or 500 or even 1000 extra calories than to continue on the road to ruin? For lots of tips on how to recover from “Might-as-Well” Days, see The Wall Street Diet, page 87.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tips to Combat the Late Night Munchies

It's all too often that my clients tell me they are “good” all day and then when they settled in for the evening in front of the TV they just couldn’t hold it together any longer! Sundown snackers will grab anything that can’t run away and call it a snack. A handful of cookies, a sleeve of crackers, six ‘portion controlled’ packs of chips…. Nothing is safe! And of course the calories mount up. Most of us do this because the evening is the only part of the day when we can really relax. The rushing around is behind us and we feel, if only subconsciously, that we deserve a reward. Also, while we may be distracted all day by overlapping demands, the evening is finally a time to call our own. Whew! Another frantic day done. Time to unwind. Time to comfort ourselves. Time to, well, eat! Of course, excess calories are the biggest negative to evening snacking. But there are others. Late-night eating can cause you to sleep poorly and wake up tired and with a food hangover to boot. I have a host of solutions to this common dilemma in my book (see The Wall Street Diet, page 36), but here’s one tip that really works: the Turkey Solution. I discovered this trick myself to curb my own night time munchies. Keep three or four quarter-pound bags of sliced turkey (from the deli) in the fridge. Choose low-sodium turkey and avoid honey-roasted, smoked or spiced turkey. Each of these ¼ pound bags will have only about 150 calories. If you’re really, truly hungry, the turkey will satisfy you (and give you a tryptophan boost which will help you sleep.) But if you’re just munching, after a few mouthfuls of turkey, you’ll call it quits. Check out my food blog (link) and let me know if this trick works for you or if you have any other effective late-night snack buster solutions.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Q: My spring calendar is filled with celebrations and parties. How do I control myself when I'm standing next to the mixed nuts and they're handing ou

A: First, observe the arm’s length rule. Always stay an arm’s length of pickable, poppable, unstoppable food. You know what I’m talking about – cheese, nuts, hummus dip… It may sound simple but it’s a tip that’s saved my clients thousands of calories. Be strategic about where you sit and you’ll have less to sit on!

Second, have a plan. Think ahead about your food intake on celebration day. Don’t go anywhere hungry. Pack a protein bar if you’ve got a long stretch between meals. Make a decision in advance about what treats you’re going to enjoy. One piece of wedding cake is fine if you’ve decided in advance that it will be your treat for the day.

A few other tips include: keep a seltzer with lemon or lime in your hands at all times to keep your hands busy. Wear form-fitting clothes (it’s amazing what a snug waistband will do for your willpower!) Be the talker, not the eater. Focus on the celebration – the people, the event – not the food. For a full selection of very specific, very helpful tips on how to handle celebrations, including top cocktail party food picks (page 226), see The Wall Street Diet.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Q: I really, truly can't exercise. Is my diet doomed?

A: I’m so glad to have a chance to answer this question. If I had a dime for everyone who tells me that they can’t diet because they can’t exercise! My response: Don’t! Exercise, that is. If no time to exercise is keeping you from dieting then you should cross exercise off your to-do list for now. It does take time to exercise; it doesn’t take time to eat well. In my experience roughly 80 percent of weight loss is the result of food intake not calories spent in exercise. I myself am an avid exerciser and depend on it to reduce stress as well as for heart and whole body health. But for busy people, adding exercise can become a stress in itself and a barrier to weight loss because it’s an excuse not to eat well. If you’re already exercising, great; continue. But if you can’t find time to exercise now, don’t worry. Focus on eating well - rely on the Wall Street strategies for busy people - and you’ll ultimately reach your goal. For lots of details on how to think about exercise so you won’t be discouraged, as well as countless suggestions, see The Wall Street Diet. (Page 199 gives my famous “twenty minute rule”.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Q: I use diet soda to cut down on daily calorie intake. Good or bad idea?

A: Bad idea. Most people who drink diet soda are drinking it as a replacement for water and water is always the best hydrator. Water can actually help boost metabolism. There’s some evidence that suggests that diet drinks can even have a negative effect on weight loss. A recent study found that study animals who ate yogurt sweetened with saccharine versus those who ate it sweetened with sugar experienced weight gain. How’s that for depressing? They’re not certain why this would happen. It could be some metabolic change stimulated by the artificial sweetener or it could be a behavioral change (I’m eating low-cal yogurt so I can have the cupcake.) Some researchers speculate that the artificial sweetener actually triggers your insulin levels and if your insulin levels are triggered you will crave and therefore eat more carbohydrates and more calories overall. In my experience, clients who drink diet soda aren’t drinking water. Despite the fact that some research indicates that water is not important for weight loss, I have seen over and over again clients who are perfect eaters/exercisers but drink no water and can’t seem to lose an ounce. When I insist they up their water intake they lose weight. There is no better research then 10 years of experience! If you are a diet soda addict, try to reduce your intake if you can’t cut it out entirely and make it your goal to get in 6-8 cups of water before drinking your diet soda (this trick always works because there is only so much fluid you can fit into your body : ) . Also try to get in 1 liter by lunch…busy people always wait until the end of the day and there is no way to cram it all in after 6 without having your sleep suffer from the constant bathroom trips. I give a host of tips on water in The Wall Street Diet including recommended daily amounts and how water intake affects weight loss. (You can find a hot tip on the dangers of “diet” mixers on page 134 of The Wall Street Diet.) Bottom line…less diet soda and more water is the way to go to reach your goal.