So, I have been asked about how I have managed to lose 250 pounds in 15 months. Here's a hint. There's no real secret to it. This diary was originally posted as a response to some diaries touting one eating lifestyle over another--"paleolithic diet" vs "vegan" vs whatever. These are my own thoughts on diet, and how it has helped me.
All I have to offer on this subject is what I've learned on my weight loss journey. My doctor is a specialist in medical (non-surgical) weight loss. Part of the program includes nutritional education.
I will share what I have learned in my nutritional education sessions in her clinic after the obligatory food fight video.
So. On with the diary.
Now, I must have a disclaimer here. Each person's nutritional and medical needs are different, and therefore may require a different dietary program. I am offering her a very general overview.
The biggest secret(s) are BALANCE and MODERATION.
The first thing I learned is that PROTEIN is the basis for a good diet. After all, it provides the "building blocks" we need to live. In addition, it provides for better body composition, and contributes to feeling "fuller"--meaning one needs less to eat.
Second, I learned that starch is sugar. And avoiding sugar is key if managing your blood sugar is important (as it should be for everyone). I also learned that you can find carbohydrates in four groups: Starches, vegetables, fruits, and dairy. Yes, dairy. Lactose, after all, is a sugar (as suggested by the -ose suffix). However, things like cheese, yogurt, and sour cream are not considered sources of carbohydrates. The reason? Much of the sugar (lactose) has been consumed by the bacteria used to make those products. I also learned that you can "take away" carbs from the "total carbohydrate" line in the nutritional information. You are allowed to subtract fiber and sugar alcohol from the total. Carbohydrates are, of course, used for energy. The sugar burns and creates the energy we need to move around. In our sedentary lives, therefore, we are needing fewer and fewer carbs to get by.
Third, I learned about the incredibly huge amounts of calories in fat. While proteins and carbohydrates only have between 4-5 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram. And fat is found in unlikely places. Avocados are considered a fat--1/8 of an avocado has about 5 grams of fat. Nuts are the same way.
Finally, I have learned about BALANCE. It's balance first and foremost that is the key to nutrition. For example, here is the typical meal I eat for lunch and dinner:
Starch (potato, grain, pasta, etc)--15g--75 calories
So what does this translate to?
6 oz of meat (preferably very lean to lean)
3-4 oz baked/roasted potato--1/2 cup cooked pasta--1/3 cup rice/barley/grain --3/4 cup sweet potato/winter squash--1/2 cup corn
1 cup cooked--2 cups raw non starchy vegetable
And the fat includes the fat found in the products--most notably the protein.
Total calories=about 470-500.
Now this has been designed for me. I don't have fruit or dairy because while I have reversed my diagnosis of Type 2, I still need to watch my blood sugar by limiting carbohydrates. Others may also require smaller amounts of protein and starches. My sister, for instance, is much smaller than me, but she does a lot of running and athletic stuff (usually 5k races and mini triathlons) so she can "carb-load" occasionally without it affecting her weight. The key is to BALANCE everything.
And of course, ALWAYS read labels for nutritional information. For instance, a product may be labeled as "fat free" but when you take out the fat, you replace it with something else--usually carbohydrates. For example, sugar free candy (including chocolate) is remarkably low in net carbs because sugar alcohol is used. But it's usually very high in fat.
Finally, I (being a semi-foodie type) try to use fresh ingredients whenever possible. That allows me to have control over exactly what I'm putting into my body. This is especially important when considering things like sodium.
As I have learned, maintaining a diet like this requires a lot of math, especially when starting out on such a program. Here are some websites to help craft your own dietary program:
This has all the nutritional information you will ever need on any ingredient. It provides information for any size, raw or cooked, and on many processed products as well.
A food exchange system is a good way to get a general feel for how much of a particular item you can have in a serving. These are most commonly found in diabetic health plans, but this is information everyone should know. In my sample diet listed above, I got much of the information from my food exchange system.
So that's my food diary. My final thoughts on this whole thing basically are that no matter what you choose to eat, balance, moderation, and nutrition are and always have been the key to being healthy and keeping a good weight.
UPDATE: From commenter PBnJ, Here's another great resource to use in planning diets and nutritional needs.