About five years ago, after a lifetime of eating and drinking carelessly, I started putting on the pounds. At 5’2″, my height to weight ratio had topped new levels of embarrassment. That, and my clothes weren’t fitting anymore and I’m too cheap (or lazy?) to shop for new clothes. So for the first time ever, I had to watch what I shoveled into my mouth. Mind you, I’ve never shoved junk or processed food down my gullet but mostly gourmet this, housemade that. It turns out even gourmet and homemade can be the wrong this and that.
I had to make a change and many “diets” eschew wine and any other alcohol. That just wasn’t going to work for me — in my house, wine is a required food group. So I read a ton of books (The South Beach Diet, The Omnivore’s Dilemma,Good Calories, Bad Calories, The Blood Sugar Solution) and magazines (Cooking Light mostly), developing a personal diet that worked for me and my lifestyle. I learned that the low-fat craze is a government-sponsored farce and absolutely doesn’t equal better health. The human body needs fat to survive and if you eat a lot of carbs and don’t burn them, they will end up on your ass. These obsessively researched and developed tenets have really worked for me, even as I drink two glasses of wine per day. I figured out the right mix so wanted to share it.
I now remain at a fairly constant poundage that facilitates the skinny jeans and it stays off as long as I follow the rules below (but I cheat occasionally). And to bring up cheating — everything is in moderation. For instance, if you go to Italy on vacation, forget rule #1 but try to follow others while indulging. Life is a journey and food needs to be enjoyed.
– Don’t eat white pasta, bread or rice. Special occasions, yes. Moderation, yes. But as a rule, I eat whole wheat pasta (watching the ingredient list for any non-wheat flour), wheat bread with at least 3 grams of fiber per slice, and only brown rice. I’m also exploring bulgar wheat, barley and, of course, quinoa.
– Eat a variety of colors. To keep things interesting, I enjoy a a smorgasbord of fruits and vegetables and use different preparations – roasted, grilled, steamed, etc. Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shipment helped since it forced me outside of my comfort zone. Five years ago, I didn’t eat cauliflower, beets or bok choy but now they make regular appearances. Drizzling different oils and vinegars and/or sprinkling parmesan cheese keep things flavorful and interesting (truffled green beans, anyone?). Bacon, by the way, does make everything better.
– Exercise at least 3 days per week, 30-45 minutes, ideally in the AM hours. But not just cardio. I found that working out with weights at least twice per week helped keep off the pounds since it builds muscles which burn more calories.
– Eat a little protein in the morning to maintain energy until lunch (breakfast is ABSOLUTE — don’t skip it) and only eat protein plus vegetables after 7 pm. No carbs at night (minus the special occasions). I eat lots of vegetables at every meal. Salads are my best friend. I have probably 20 different salad dressing recipes (try this one) that I cycle through.
And one final note. It’s not a guideline but something to think about — keep the stress in check. Yoga, meditation, hardcore exercise. Whatever works for you to maintain balance. Stress keeps on the pounds.
Recipes which help me keep me on track without losing decadence and flavor: