“The Best Diet Is The One You Don’t Know You’re On ” – Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating
Did you ever try to lose weight? The most common practice to shed a few (or more) pounds is to go on a diet. How successful is this strategy? Some studies suggest that as many as 95% of people who lose weight by dieting gain it back in 5 years. Other studies put this number at around 65%. But no one debates that a majority of people do gain back their weight after dieting.
Why Don’t Diets Have Long Lasting Impact?
In his book Mindless Eating
– which is my favorite book on understanding how we consume food – Brian Wansink says that most dieters are trying to lose weight as fast as possible and therefore use food deprivation as a technique for weight loss. When you suddenly deprive your body of say 500 – 1,000 fewer calories per day , your body is continually looking for those lost calories. And slowly but surely it finds a way to get those calories back.
What Is The Best Way To Lose Weight?
Again, in Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink shares a story about his colleague:
One collegue of mine, Cindy, had lost around 20 pounds during her first 2 years at a new job. When I asked how she lost the weight, she couldn’t really answer. Afte some persistent questioning, it seemed that the only deliberate change she’d made two years earlier was to give up caffeine. She switched from coffee to herbal tea. That didn’t seem to explain anything.
“Oh yeah,” she said, “and because I gave up caffeine, I also stopped drinking Coke.” She had been drinking about six cans a week – far from a serious habit – but the 139 calories in each Coke translated into 12 pounds a year. She wasn’t even aware of why she’d lost weight. In her mind all she’d done was cut out caffeine.
In a classic article in Science, Drs. James O. Hill and John C. Peters suggested that cutting only 100 calories a day from our diets would prevent weight gain in most of the U.S. population.
How Much Weight Will You Lose?
When you cut around 100 calories per day, your body barely notices the difference, and you end up losing weight over a period of time. Brian Wansink calls this slight drop in daily calories the Mindless Margin. He suggests that a simple way to estimate how much weight you would lose is to divide the calories of the things you give up by 10. So for example giving up one 140 calorie soft drink each day equates losing 14pounds per year. [click to continue…]
We recently stumbled upon Healthy Dining Finder. It is a great tool to find healthy options when eating out or getting take out. Their team of registered dietitians and nutrition experts review restaurant menus to review and analyze calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and other nutrients of restaurant dishes. How does it work? Simply enter your zip code and this website lists restaurants by number of healthy dishes, price and distance.
What Qualifies As Healthy Dishes?
Healthy Dinner Finder lists the menu items of restaurants in three categories:
1. Healthy Dining
- Entrées are less than 750 calories, 25 grams of fat and 8 grams of saturated fat and include at least two of the following: Fruits and/or Vegetables, Lean Protein, Whole Grains and Lower-fat Dairy
- Appetizers, side dishes and desserts are less than 250 calories, 8 grams of fat and 3 grams of saturated fat
- Deep fried items are excluded
2. Sodium Savvy
- Entrées are less than 750 mg of sodium
- Appetizers, Side Dishes and Desserts are less than 250 mg of sodium
3. Kids Live Well
- Full Kids’ Meals (entrée, side option and beverage) are less than 600 calories and include at least two of the following: Fruits and/or Vegetables, Lean Protein, Whole Grains and Lower-fat Dairy
- Side Items are less than 200 calories
- All items have less than 35% of calories from fat and less than 35% of calories from sugars
- Deep fried items are excluded
If you try it, let me know what you think.
Picture: Meal Planning by Pennyshima
What do you do for Meal Planning? How do you decide what to cook? Do you first come up with a Meal Plan for the week and then create a Grocery List? Or do you first shop for groceries by buying the ingredients that your family likes, and then cook based on what you have in your pantry and refrigerator?
If you’re like our family, my guess is you’re somewhere in between the two approaches. Although you might plan in advance for cooking a few meals for the week and buy the ingredients required for those meals, when you are at the grocery store, you still end up buying other ingredients.
Outsource Meal Planning?
Figuring out what to cook on a weekly basis can be daunting. One way to solve this problem is to subscribe to one of the meal planning and menu mailer services. These services send you weekly Meal Plans and Grocery Shopping Lists. They cost between $5 – $10 per month. Given that on an average about 1/3rd of all groceries we buy go to waste, spending $5 – $10 per month on a meal planning service could end up being a smart financial decision.
With the New Year around the corner healthy eating is going to be on most of our New Year’s resolution lists. But how many of us will be successful at consistently eating healthy in 2013?
Eating healthy is challenging
Let’s face it, the process of getting healthy meals on our plates is not always easy. When we cook at home, we face two big issues:
1. Cooking is time-consuming
In order to cook at home we have to plan, buy groceries from one or more grocery stores, prep, and cook. This process takes time.
2. Cooking healthy is a complicated equation
USDA’s Food Plate recommends that we eat within a certain caloric range and ensure that our diet includes a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, proteins, grains and dairy. These recommendations by themselves can be very complicated to put into practice. However when you add other factors such as personal preferences (tastes, likes, dislikes), diets (Atkins, vegetarian, vegan) and other considerations (price, brand, local/organic, etc.), you end up with a highly complicated problem.
Unhealthy eating can cause serious problems
Families – especially with children – are constantly strapped for time. We simply don’t have a lot of time to plan and cook healthy meals. And even if we do, we end up getting overwhelmed with managing the complexity of eating healthy. As a result of this we don’t always make the best food decisions.
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