Saturday, July 24, 2010

The 5 Fine Arts of Dieting

If you are like me, you are always looking for a way to maintain or reach your ideal weight. Food is sometimes a friend, sometimes an enemy. Sooner or later, some tasty treats full of fat, sugar, or both show up unexpectedly. Someone presents you with a choice of foods and you are not sure which is better for you.

Don't worry, you can handle it...especially if you practice the simple and practical 5 Fine Arts of Dieting.

1. The Fine Art of Sharing

Remember when you were in preschool and everyone told you that sharing was the way to go? Well it is the way to go in dieting too! The quickest way to get temptation off of your plate is to offer to share it. Having lunch at work? Offer some of your tasty treats to your coworkers. Get in the habit of offering a bite to your kids. Let your husband eat off your plate. A medium fry can wreak havoc on your waist, but a medium fry shared by three or four people becomes a quick little treat of maybe 50 calories or less where no one has to feel guilty.

2. The Fine Art of Waiting

So someone brings in a batch of donuts on a Friday morning, or someone returns from lunch with a bag of cookies. You want some - now. Give yourself a minute to think about it, though, and that may be enough to resist the temptation. Look up the number of calories, fat, carbs, online, and that may help too. If all else fails, expound upon #1 above, and allow your coworkers or family members first dibs. Chances are, if you wait long enough, either they will all be gone before you get there, or your favorite flavors will be, and a plate full of a few picked over crumbs is much easier to resist than a fresh clean one stuffed with goodies. Of course, if you still can't resist, at least now there will only be one or two left, instead of being able to gorge!

3. The Fine Art of Timing

Are you always hungry when you get to a restaurant, and then proceed to eat a "meal before a meal" with free breadsticks or other appetizers? Learn how to better manage time in a way that suits your needs. Eat a (healthy) snack before dining out, eat a full blown meal before grocery shopping, and eat breakfast before work to avoid the pastries that inevitably show up. Time your diets with others around you, so you have to report your progress or at least compare yours to theirs, and then you can celebrate and joke together about successes and pitfalls. Always gain winter weight? Embark on a program before you are able to cover up in big sweaters for six months. Want to avoid crash dieting in summer? Hang the bathing suit up in plain view in April, or even better, March.

4. The Fine Art of Saving

Split a meal before you begin. If you cook at home, which you should for better diet control, immediately measure your portions out and refrigerate the rest. By the time you are finished, even if you are hungry, it will feel like cooking again to reheat the "leftovers" and will be easier to avoid. If you are eating out, do the same. Split half before you start, and get it cold as fast as possible. Hate to ask for a doggie bag in the beginning of a meal? Ask for an extra plate. Fill the extra with what you are supposed to eat, and push the first one far away. You have now pointed out to everyone that you have restraint, and reaching for the other plate will point out to everyone that you are caving into temptation. Set a good example and stay off the second plate. You'll feel better about it when leaving with the leftovers - and realizing you now also saved money on two meals instead of overpaying for just one.

5. The Fine Art of Verifying

This one is a little trickier, but well worth learning. Do not believe everything you hear. A friend once told me she was watching carbs and could not eat baked potatoes, only to sit down with so much fruit that she ate the same number of carbs in the meal. People have repeated many facts and fiction when it comes to dieting, and therefore you should verify as much as you can before eating anything. Want to know whether you should eat ground turkey or ground beef? Better know whether you are talking about lean ground beef or ground chuck, and whether you are talking about 97/3 ground turkey or 85/15. You also need to know what works for you - do you need to watch sodium or fat grams? Red meat intake, cholesterol, or carbohydrates? Dieting is not one sized fits all. Do not let your friends, no matter how well intentioned, sway you from what you know to be fact.

These 5 Fine Arts take practice, but with a little work, they become excellent habits to live by. Good luck!

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