Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MrsDrPoe: The Best Diet Plan Ever

What's for Dinner Wednesday?  How about diet food you'll love?  I know, I know...every diet promises that and none of them deliver.  Tonight I'd like to share with you what I've found to be the best diet plan ever, as a pseudo-foodie who has struggled with her weight for the majority of her life...


Why It's Worked for Me

Ever since the Atkins diet became popular, friends and family have been hearing me say, "I could never do that...I love carbs way too much!"  The one thing that Atkins has in common with almost every other diet is that it very strictly limits the amount of something that you can eat.  Atkins cuts out most carbs; Paleo cuts out dairy and grains; vegetarian/juice diets cut out meat; others simply cut out all fat (so food often tastes like cardboard).  

I like food way too much to cut anything out completely; even so, it makes no sense to me that I should cut out 'naturally occurring' food products like meat, dairy, grains, veggies/fruits with too much sugar, etc.  Other dieting negatives for me include: 1) it's very difficult to hold to these strict dieting regimens when eating out or eating at someone's house and 2) I get the cravings of a pregnant woman when I have had no ____ (fill in the blank) for an extended period of time, which typically leads to binging when I finally give in.

The moderation-style of dieting made popular in recent years by Weight Watchers has been fantastic for me because it allows me to eat some of anything, anywhere without being hungry or wishing for flavor.  If I'm pairing moderation with healthier choices (read: not "ok...2000 cal/day means I can have 2.5 pieces of cake today for my meals"), I don't have to necessarily worry about any vitamin or nutrient deficiencies in my diet either.  And I get a few cookies and things, which keeps me from eating all my baking leftovers while Mr. Poe is at work.  Love! 

Careful Implementation

I think one of the major problems with anyone (including myself) who claims to be dieting by moderation but doesn't actually see any progress (or even weight gain) over time is that we're not being careful in our implementation- we're totally haphazard in keeping track of what we've eaten all day, or (and this is the killer) we are meticulous about what we eat at meals but not with drinks or snacks.

If you're dieting by moderation, you need to choose a method of keeping track of what you have eaten and can still eat for the rest of the day.  Programs like Weight Watchers have special slide-rule type things that help you calculate a "point value" for things you eat; for the past few months, I've found literal calorie counting to be most helpful.

Being a very analytical engineer, I love Microsoft Excel; thus, I made a spreadsheet to calculate the number of calories I was consuming for each meal and snack.  I kept very close count for the first month until I became familiar enough with the amounts of certain foods I could eat and still stay in my daily caloric weight-loss limits.  I've successfully lost (and kept off...even through the holidays) 10 pounds in the past two months by simply watching what I eat.*

While moderation allows you to eat full-fat foods in moderation (duh), you can save calories/points/etc. by making lower calorie substitutions in recipes you already know and love (another bonus- no need to buy new cookbooks).  Mr. Poe and I have found that "light" is almost as good as "regular" and MUCH better than "fat free" for most products.  Splenda in tea (or coffee, etc.) also ensures that anyone raised in the south isn't drinking his/her daily calorie allotment.

So as long as you're paying attention to how much you're eating, your menus don't need to change that much (note: eating your weight-loss calorie limit in pizza, cake, etc. may help you loose weight, but it isn't exactly healthy...i.e. you may consider changing your menu some).  And when you've lost the desired amount of weight, you can up your daily calorie limit while continuing to keep count.  

Support Is Crucial

While you may be the type of person who is totally self-motivated when it comes to dieting, I am not.  It helps me to have someone to talk to about my progress and the day-to-day fluctuation that comes occasionally when we eat out or with someone else.  In the past, I've found it particularly encouraging to share my stories with Ms. K. Davis; keeping my dieting secret from Mr. Poe to see when he would start to notice.  

During my recent weight-loss adventure, I ended up having to tell Mr. Poe when he asked why I had reduced my dinner portion sizes consistently (Rev 21:8); he's been particularly supportive and extra complimentary, which has also been an encouragement.  As with any life-style changing endeavor, a support person(s) provides not only support but accountability (as frustrating as it can be sometimes).  So partner your spreadsheet with frequent calls/texts to a friend.

*Words of Caution

Ideally, diet should be paired with exercise.  With work, Bible studies, and house stuff taking all my time currently, I have not been able to exercise as I would like to; however, I am planning to start when we move.  Also, any diet program that you begin should not be started when you are pregnant or nursing or without consulting your primary physician (note: any time is a good time to start eating healthier...but not eating healthier with the intent to loose weight).

What diets have worked best/worst for you?


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