My friends and I refuse to do the math. It would be too depressing to discover just how much money we have spent on expensive diet plans over the years.
Regardless of the plan, the result was always the same. We experienced a fleeting high when we squeezed into a slimmer size, and then the weight inevitably crept back up.
Last year, I decided to put that expensive diet education to good use and created my own low-cost weight reduction plan.
Here are a few of my tips:
Create a Support Group.
Many diet programs ask participants to meet with a diet counselor at least once week. Some also provide optional group sessions facilitated by the counselor.
Why not ask a group of friends to form a weight reduction group? Give yourselves a name such as Diet Divas and set a date and time for weekly meetings. Keep the format simple and encourage the members to weigh themselves only at that time.
In many groups, the members decide on an appropriate weight loss goal and keep track of their own weekly losses using charts, graphs or spreadsheets. To further motivate the group, provide prizes for the biggest loser of the week or month.
Use a Journal
Most diet programs insist that members keep a daily journal and log all food intake. Once a week, the counselor carefully examines the food diary and makes suggestions on how to improve eating habits.
You can journal on your own or share the entries with other group members. Keep a notebook or inexpensive journal with you at all times. Record the food as you eat it, including portion sizes and time of day. Consider using an entire page for each day and write about your feelings. For example, if you have indulged in a chocolate bar, write about how you felt before and after eating it.
Look for Patterns
Are you eating more in late afternoon? Do you have enough variety?
Do not try to change all your eating habits at once. Instead, make small lifestyle changes.
Chew sugarless gum.
According to nutrition expert Joy Bauer, sugarless gum sends a blast of flavour to our taste buds and prevents us from nibbling on cookies or other sweets.
Each evening, pre-measure eight to ten nuts, and put these small portions in sandwich bags or storage containers. Keep apples and low-fat protein bars in your desk drawer.
Substitute a cup of no-fat broth for that afternoon cup of coffee or tea.
A cup of broth is considered a comfort food that will help you feel fuller and get through a high-stress afternoon.
Retrain your eyes as to how much food is appropriate.
When my relatives visit from Italy, they are horrified by the amount of pasta we eat in one sitting at home or in restaurants. In Italy, people eat about two cups of pasta in one sitting while North Americans will eat five to eight cups of pasta at one time.
Consider the following guidelines:
- A medium piece of fruit is the size of a woman’s fist.
- Three ounces of meat, poultry or fish are the size of a deck of cards.
- Half a cup of pasta is the size of a computer mouse.
- One ounce of cheese is the size of four dice.
If you need more information about portion sizes or any other aspect of dieting, consult a book written by an accredited nutritionist.
Read Labels Carefully.
When reading labels, it is important to be aware of what each label really means. This is especially true for dieters looking to reduce calories and fat. For example, while low fat means no more than three grams of fat per serving, it does not necessarily mean low calories. Food that is labelled unsweetened means no sugar was added, but sugar may be found naturally in the food.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
Unlike the quick fixes of my younger days, my new regimen allows me to eat sensibly and lose the weight gradually while on a budget. I also keep in mind the 80/20 rule. As long as I stick to my diet program 80 percent of the time, I can forgive myself the 20 percent of times that I lapse.