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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:

Protein--42g--210 calories
Starch (potato, grain, pasta, etc)--15g--75 calories
Vegetable--10g--50 calories
Fat--15g--135 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:

Here's the USDA Nutrient Database

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.

From the Mayo Clinic, this is their section on food exchanges

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.

Originally posted to zenbassoon on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 07:46 PM PST.

Also republished by Weight Loss Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Here's to balanced eating. (27+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 07:45:21 PM PST

  •  food fight (7+ / 0-)

    you nuts, food is way to expensive these days for such things

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 07:51:15 PM PST

  •  Here's what I know (7+ / 0-)

    from a long stretch of limited food budget:  Healthy eating can be inexpensive (soups, chilies, limited pasta, stir fry, etc.)  It would be lovely to have the luxury to fixate on an environmentally responsible diet -- but the fact is, folks today need to learn how to extend inexpensive vegetables and meats to keep them conscious.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 07:55:39 PM PST

  •  Start with lentils... (6+ / 0-)

    all else follows.

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:03:32 PM PST

  •  Can't we all just get along? (6+ / 0-)
    Photobucket

    I know your mother told you not to play with your food...

    "When all you have is an assault rifle, everything looks like a target." -- Something the Dog Said

    by PvtJarHead on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:05:49 PM PST

  •  My understanding (7+ / 0-)

    is that the perfectly balanced diet is a beer and a twinkie.

    "Just keep quiet, no room for doubt."~The Gang of Four

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:11:01 PM PST

  •  I know precisely how much I can have... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, commonmass, zenbassoon

    in a serving: However much I decide to have.

    I've never understood how people who are sooooooo "my body my choice" about some things are so comfortable telling people what to do with their bodies in other areas.

    If people want to take in more calories than their specific body, in their specific situation, can process, that's their choice. Same if other people want to eat nothing but ruffage. I support everybody's right to make all such choices for themselves. What works for me may not work for you - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 09:09:43 PM PST

    •  All Kinds of Things Are Wrong With That (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbassoon

      We aren't all issued the same metabolisms.

      We don't get the same sensations out of our guts, our bodies don't respond the same to calories or the sensations we get, and the result is that we are not equally able to evaluate what "works."

      If you're a libertarian Margaret Thatcher "There is no such thing as society" then there is no entity to care about others' evaluation of what "works."

      If you agree not to participate in society in any way -- including not purchasing any insurance or doing anything that in any way diverts a single penny of the cost your lifestyle onto a single one of the rest of us-- then more cholesterol to you!

      You might note that the global scientific consensus is that we already have too much greenhouse gas in the air. That means that every breath you exhale injures every person and all the property on the planet, more than would happen if you would kindly drop dead right now.

      At this moment there is something wrong with anything any human would do, something that affects the entire world.

      It's time to grow up.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 10:06:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dumb. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass, zenbassoon

        I specifically and explicitly relativized it to each person's own body.

        If people want to take in more calories than their specific body, in their specific situation,

        But yah - it's too bad people make bad choices for themselves. (shrug) Those choices are still theirs to make. I'm not going to tell them what to eat any more than I'm going to tell them not to have an abortion. Their body, their choice.

        And I'm exactly as "libertarian" as any pro-choice woman. (shrug)

        Have fun blaming me for destroying the earth by eating bacon. lols

        I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

        by punditician on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 10:14:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  As a gastronome of the old school, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skohayes, zenbassoon

          I can tell you, punditician, that there are two kinds of people. People who eat to live and people who live to eat. I live to eat, but try to do it responsibly, sustainably, and with an increasing view towards my own health. Sure I like things that are controversial to eat, caviar and foie gras among them. There is a legitimate argument against the eating of caviar, which is nearly impossible to obtain nowadays anyway given the classic case of what happens when you don't do sustainable fishing that has happened with the sturgeon in Russia. And enemies of foie gras have, I'm afraid to say, some serious misconceptions about the natural inclinations eating-wise of the domestic goose. But I digress.

          If we reduce food to subsistence-only, we do it because we have farmed and fished unsustainably. Which we certainly have. There are ways to correct that, and I know plenty of people here in Maine who are doing some really important work towards local, sustainable ag and fishing. But if we reduce food to subsistence-only out of some sense of not wanting to pay for someone else's "lifestyle choices", well, what we're doing is destroying an important part of our culture--gastronomy. I get really turned off by some arguments in support of all this judgment about other people's lifestyle choices. It's just a little too, well, judgmental for me.

          This space left blank intentionally.

          by commonmass on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 10:25:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I eat a low-carb diet. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, commonmass, zenbassoon

    I measure nothing, count nothing, never weigh myself (unless I'm at the doctor's, and I don't have health insurance, so that's rare nowadays).  About the only math I do is to read the labels for the amount of carbs in the processed foods I eat.  I used to be enormous.  I lost close to a hundred pounds from what I weighed at my divorce and I've kept it off eating this way since the nineties.  I don't think it would work for everybody, so I don't promote it, but it works for me.  It's not like I'm too lazy or dense to consider other approaches -- I tried them all -- it's just that I found the most brainless approach was the best approach for me.  I eat as much as I want when I want without doing any math, but only from those foods that are okay for me.

  •  Zenbassoon: you have read some of the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mayim, zenbassoon

    recipes and comments about some of the things I like to eat. And you've probably noticed, some of them are very, very rich. Not to mention the fact that I consume fair amounts of red wine, not to mention martinis. Now, I do not suffer from issues such as diabetes (though I have to watch out, it's in my family), etc, so I'm not saying this approach is for everyone, BUT: I have, in the last 16 to 18 months taken 8 inches off my waist size. I am not too far from my college weight (though attained the waist size, being in my 40's, I'm not going to ever be the stick I was then). And I did it by deciding to "eat like the French": I eat what I want, but I eat much less of it and am not, except at the Holidays when it is nearly unavoidable, the kind of person who likes to eat between meals. Which is really key, I think.

    This approach is not for everyone, but it has worked for me. And it has kept rich sauces and sweets and wine in my diet. And I walk a little, which helps.

    Again, this is not for people with serious problems with cholesterol or triglycerides or diabetes or who for these or other reasons have to restrict or to lose weight a little faster than I did. But I'll tell you this: I can still have those creamed sweetbreads or pate from time to time and my bad right knee which was beginning to really bother me when I was heavier has stopped bothering me and my doctor is pleased. Though he DOES wish I would exercize more.

    Thanks for the diary, and I'm glad you're doing well!

    This space left blank intentionally.

    by commonmass on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 10:09:36 PM PST

    •  I understand completely. I like to indulge (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mayim, commonmass

      as well.

      You mentioned things like foie gras and caviar.  Yes, they're high in fat, but they're also high in other good things as well, and while it probably isn't wise to eat such things every day, to indulge once in a while is not bad.

      I used to be like Paula Deen when it came to cooking with butter.  Now, not so much.  When I reach my maintenance stage, I'll be able to use a bit more butter.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

      by zenbassoon on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 05:48:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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