Over the years I have tried a variety of different diets, with varying levels of success. As usual, I’ve retained only the parts that interest me. I’m on a healthy eating kick right now, so the force of my diet knowledge is extra strong, and I wanted to share the benefits with you.
(Side note: as a decidedly not-skinny chick, I avoid talking to fit, thin people about diet and exercise at all costs, because I know they are judging me, and also, it makes me feel bad. That’s why the tips below are one hundred percent original.)
1. The new Weight Watchers guidelines say that fruit has no points. I don’t eat fruit, but I do buy it so it can rot in my refrigerator and mock me with its putrescence until I throw it out to make room for more. Sometimes it makes the fridge smell bad, and I lose my appetite entirely and take a nap to avoid dealing with the mess. Net calories: zero.
2. All meat is fine because it is low-carb. This is THE central lesson of the early 2000s, and it means that eating a really delicious hamburger from Whole Foods that has blue cheese mixed into the meat is a-okay. Totally healthy, as long as you don’t eat the bun, because white flour is from Satan.
3. A baked potato is fat-free and very nutritious, especially the skin. Top it with low-fat sour cream (the fat-free kind is disgusting) and some butter. Eat it alongside the burger (BUNLESS!) described above for a healthy and comforting meal.
4. Because they are seasonal and for a good cause, Girl Scout cookies have no fat or calories. Indeed, Tagalongs have protein-rich peanut butter, a boon for those of us who avoid carbohydrates. One sleeve (or half a box) per day is an appropriate serving.
5. My boss at the very first real job I had was an obsessive dieter who never put anything in her mouth without weighing its caloric impact. This was back when the fat-free craze was ending and the low-carb craze was just beginning, and she told me that her low-carb diet book said it was better to consume some fat with your carbohydrates so that your body could process the sugars more efficiently. She explained this by way of justifying why she was putting cream cheese on her bagel, which everyone knows is a sin. Her explanation made perfect sense, and so I never eat a fat-free bagel without some full-fat cream cheese, nor fat-free pasta with red sauce without copious amounts of Parmiggiano. It’s just a healthier way to live.
6. Speaking of pasta, if you are avoiding carbs, the Ronzoni brand white whole wheat pasta is indistinguishable from real pasta, and does not have any of the unpleasant “rotting leaves” taste and texture that plague so many whole wheat noodles. Unfortunately, they don’t make it any more, so always eat meatballs with your pasta. The protein cancels out the carbs.
7. In cultures where people eat lots of olive oil, they live much longer and are much healthier, because olive oil is not solid (like butter) and therefore cannot clog your arteries. Indeed, it lubricates them. Therefore, use lots of olive oil when you saute or roast those healthy veggies! Because oil has a higher smoke point than butter (this is a food science term that you wouldn’t understand; just trust me) you should mix in an equal amount of butter to avoid burning. Now who loves ratatouille!
8. If you let yourself get too hungry, you are prone to overeat and consume calories your body doesn’t need. Try to eat six small meals a day. If you forget the “small” part sometimes and end up eating some medium or large meals, that’s fine. You will just be that much less hungry, and eat less, at the next meal time. Or perhaps the next. It’s also beneficial to change up which diet you’re following from meal to meal, so you don’t get bored. Boredom is the dieter’s enemy! Your daily menu might be cereal and toast for breakfast, bunless burger with bacon and cheese for lunch, a Snickers for your “treat”, and a sensible dinner of chips and salsa and a bottle of wine (tomatoes and red wine have tons of antioxidants, which are GREAT for fighting cancer!)
9. Drink lots and lots of water. It’s great for digestion and the skin, and contributes to a shiny coat as well. Your target should be about 64 ounces a day. I don’t really like water, so I drink 64 ounces of Diet Coke a day instead, but the benefits are the same. The important thing is that you get enough fluids.
10. Beware restaurant meals. If you must power lunch, order a salad. My favorite is the ubiquitous Cobb, because it it low-fat (lettuce, tomatoes) AND low carb (bacon, bleu cheese, avocado.) Be sure to order the dressing on the side as well as on the salad, so you can control how much dressing you’re eating; it’s a hidden source of fat and calories and can undermine your efforts.
11. Finally, don’t forget to treat yourself! Dozens of studies probably show that dieters who deprive themselves for too long–48 hours or more–tend to “binge”, undoing all their hard work. So order that piece of chocolate cake, but only have a bite! Unless that feels rude, or you are sad, or have had a hard day, or don’t feel pretty and loved. In that case, order it a la mode.