Eating right: 11 tips I’m using to “Eat very right” (and cut calories).

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Eleven tips that I’m using to “Eat very right” (and cut calories).

For the month of September, I’ve resolved to “Eat very right.” I wouldn’t be able to eat this right forever – and I wouldn’t even try — but I decided to take a boot-camp of approach to cleaning up my eating habits.

1. No sweets. Not even a bite. I gave up my beloved Tasti D-Lite – ah, I miss it. I’d already pretty much given up food like cookies and cupcakes, but boy, I do love to eat candy. For mini Tootsie-Rolls, peppermint patties, butterscotch disks, etc. I’ll have to wait until November.

2. When possible, choose fruits and vegetables, and after that, lean protein. So if I have a choice between rice and roasted vegetables, I choose vegetables. If I have a choice between pasta and fish, I choose fish.

3. Only one bowl of cereal a day. I love cereal and would eat it at every meal. Also, I do the bottomless-cereal-bowl trick, where I eat all the cereal, and when I see the milk that’s left over, I fill the bowl with cereal again to use it up. Not this month.

4. Nothing in the cracker/pretzel family.

5. Keep tempting food in an inconvenient place, keep healthy food in a convenient place. When I’m hungry, everything looks good. If I see a lovely fruit salad ready to eat in the fridge, that’s what I’ll want to eat.

6. No juice and no alcohol.

7. No “bites” of other people’s food. I take one bite of the Little Girl’s grilled-cheese sandwich, then another, and then pretty soon I’ve eaten half a sandwich.

9. Eat at home whenever possible. My brother-in-law worked at a restaurant, and he told me that whatever you might order, and however it might be prepared, it has tons of butter on it.

10. No bread from a bread basket, and no bread as a snack. Well, except that sometimes, when I really need a quick, fast snack that I can eat on the run, I toast a whole-wheat pita pocket and eat that.

11. Don’t eat when I’m not hungry; eat as soon as I do get hungry.

When I told my sister about the changes I was making, she said, “You basically eat very well. Why cut this stuff out altogether? You can have treats once in a while. It’s a more sustainable way to eat.”

Well, yes and no. I wouldn’t want to try to live by these rules forever, but the fact is, it’s easier for me to give things up altogether than to indulge moderately. I agree with Samuel Johnson, who wrote, “Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.”

Take Tasti D-Lite, which I was eating twice, sometimes three times, a day. It’s easier for me to give up Tasti D-Lite altogether than to eat it three times a week. I’d spend way too much energy thinking about whether I should have it today, or tomorrow; or now, or later this afternoon; or whether this cone should “count” or whether I should get a freebie for some reason. For me, a happier approach is to give it up altogether, so I don’t fret about it.

Speaking of Tasti D-Lite, it’s a good example of how something that’s allegedly healthier for you can actually lead you to make less healthy choices. I would never, in a million years, eat an ice-cream cone every day. But because Tasti D-Lite doesn’t “count” as ice cream, or a “real” dessert, I eat a ton of it.

In the same way, when I gave up fake food, I realized that although I’d never eat a candy bar every day, I was eating “health bars” every day, when I would have been better off eating real food, like soup or salad or a smoothie, instead.

Have you found any tips to help yourself to “Eat very right”?

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Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • I do the bottomless cereal bowl trick too. This month I’ve decided to cut cereal out of my diet completely. It’s only been 10 days and it’s hard. I almost slipped the other day. I poured the cereal in the bowl and then poured it back in the box. Don’t worry, I hadn’t added the milk yet.

  • What kind of exercise are you adding to your daily routine? Diet is only about 30% of wieghtloss and toning. 30 mins of exercise 4 times a week to maintain your weight. 60 mins of exercise 5 times a week to loss weight.

  • olga

    Our trick is not to have any unhealthy food at home. We just don’t buy it.
    And when I’m serious about eating healthy I try to eat warm food, it gives me a “comfortable” feeling and I eat less. So I’d boil some vegetables like broccoli and eat it hot, with olive oil. Olive oil, by the way, has a lot more calories than butter, but better press. That’s why sometimes I replace it with some butter without feeling guilty.

  • Great tips! Especially important part about “fake foods.” And although all-natural granola bars and Clif bars are great, a lot of times you’d still get more nutrition–and fewer cals–from a piece of fruit and a small handful of nuts.

  • Josephine

    I was disappointed to read so much about dieting in this and in the previous post. For that, I could have easily picked up Shape or some other frivolous woman’s magazine. Obsessing over what I should or should not eat has never made me happy or happier.
    I particularly find disturbing a quote in your previous article, “I’m about three pounds over where I’d like to be – not my “ideal” weight, which is probably unrealistically low.” Why obsess so much in an effort to lose 3 lousy pounds? I’m 30 pounds over my “ideal” weight (according to the professionals) and yet I’m the healthiest and in the best physical shape I’ve ever been. And I’m happy not obsessing about every morsel of food that goes into my mouth.

  • About the cereal — I have a friend who lost 15 pounds when he gave up cereal. If you love the stuff, it’s so easy to eat massive quantities without realizing it.
    Good idea about warming food. Another tip I read someplace is to eat food that cues a “meal” rather than a “snack” because it’s more psychologically satisfying. e.g., eat half a sandwich instead of a bowl of pretzels.

  • Also — about exercise — I’m curious about the connection between exercise and weight loss. Seems to me, from what I’ve read, that while exercise helps keep your weight stable and maintain weight loss, it doesn’t help you lose weight unless you train VERY hard. That rings true to my experience.
    I do weight-training twice a week, yoga once a week, go to the gym for cardio once or twice a week, and do a fair amount of walking (I love NYC). But I see exercise more as an aid to mood, relaxation, sleep — I don’t have any hopes for weight loss. Gina Kolata’s book (what’s the title) was interesting on the topic of exercise.

  • Were we separated at birth? You adore all the ‘foods’ I do. Cereal breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yummy frozen yogurt – it is good for you, right?? Candy – oh blessed candy. Yes, I am working on my eating habits as well. I like the idea of giving it up for a month.

  • Great article, these tips are great. Everyone has an opinion and I am certainly no different. I would like to add a few overlooked aspects of dieting.
    The real point of dieting is not about dieting. We all have reasons we diet and it is not about what we look like or how healthy we are. When looked into a little deeper, we could find that both health and looks are psychological. (Health = fear of death, looks = equal fear of not having others approval) We can manipulate our diets, starve ourselves of food, exercise until we shave that last “three pounds” and will still possess the same emotional issues that were the cause of bodily issues.
    Deprivation of self (including diets and the comforts to the mind they provide) will never give positive the necessary positive reinforcement our brain needs to be healthy. There is no struggle with a person that is happy internally, only the drive to live whole.
    While I realize there are as few as 2% of people that actually live this way, this is not a reason to continue to live with the product of a dysfunctional (weight issues) and not search for the answer internally.

  • Mark Babineaux

    Site for mind, body and soul!
    http://progressyourlife.com

  • Great article, these tips are great. Everyone has an opinion and I am certainly no different. I would like to add a few overlooked aspects of dieting.
    The real point of dieting is not about dieting. We all have reasons we diet and it is not about what we look like or how healthy we are. When looked into a little deeper, we could find that both health and looks are psychological. (Health = fear of death, looks = equal fear of not having others approval) We can manipulate our diets, starve ourselves of food, exercise until we shave that last “three pounds” and will still possess the same emotional issues that were the cause of bodily issues.
    Deprivation of self (including diets and the comforts to the mind they provide) will never give positive the necessary positive reinforcement our brain needs to be healthy. There is no struggle with a person that is happy internally, only the drive to live whole.
    While I realize there are as few as 2% of people that actually live this way, this is not a reason to continue to live with the product of a dysfunctional (weight issues) and not search for the answer internally.

  • Ed

    This sounds very much like the No “S” diet
    There are just three rules and one exception:
    * No Snacks
    * No Sweets
    * No Seconds
    Except (sometimes) on days that start with “S”
    http://www.nosdiet.com/
    check it out

  • Great Tips, My biggest help has been staying away from bread and sweets until I am backed into a corner. Then I devourer it with great joy. Lost 40 pounds so far and was able to maintain it by working out and staying off regular soda and sweet drinks. Thanks
    -doozieUp
    http://doozieUp.com

  • It’s not obsessive to worry about three pounds. I weigh six more pounds than my “ideal,” and while wanting to lose that (eventually) may sound vain or frivolous since I am currently at a healthy enough weight, six pounds can mean a lot. Six less pounds when you have arthritis means many more pounds less of stress on your knees. Even three less pounds can be good for all kinds of reasons. There is a strong correlation between one’s ideal weight and good health (and I don’t agree that health always equals fear of death), so three pounds is a worthy goal, however vain it may seem. Anyway, here’s my dietary tip: Type 2 diabetes runs in my family, and I had gestational diabetes, so I eat and exercise pretty much as if I already have diabetes. That’s my way of dealing with genes. Controlling blood sugar and weight also helps with risks for dementia. So…not all thin people want to be thin to be like models in magazines, and we’re not all anorexic. We just want to be healthy as we age (gracefully). Here’s a cookbook that I like: “Decadent Desserts for Diabetics.” Why not eat right before you have to (or else)?

  • Ann

    Sorry. I hate this kind of thing. Just ends up making me feel deprived of any FUN foods. Read “Intuitive Eating” by Tribole and Resch and get rid of diets forever. I did and I couldn’t be HAPPIER.

  • I know everyone’s different when it comes to how they manage their diet and their weight. I commented on yesterday’s post that forgetting all of it and just practicing moderation and staying active is the best approach. Well, it’s the best approach for me anyway.
    I’m commenting today to give one last piece of advice – throw away your scale! Focus instead on how you feel and learn to listen to your body. I know I can always tell when I’m a few pounds over my “ideal” or natural weight, and I don’t need a scale to tell me that. When I owned a scale, I tended to obsess about the number. Especially as women, our weight fluctuates throughout the month and during the different seasons as well. Lose the number and focus on how you feel.

  • Ash

    Hmmm. Sounds a lot like a diet!
    I don’t do diets, personally. With a history of anorexia, I tend to go a little “overboard.”
    What works for me is the mantra, “I LOVE my beautiful body.”
    Even if I have a few extra pounds on it one month to the next, it is the only body I’ve got, and I might as well appreciate it. It works perfectly 90% of the time, and the other 10% it’s usually my behaviors or thoughts that make it work less perfectly.
    One thing necessary for the mantra to work: you have to really know and understand what’s right for you. First off, the fake foods thing is important to peek at. Processed and bleached foods just aren’t good! Whole foods, on the other hand, are wonderful!
    Moderation, moderation, moderation. If you love your beautiful body, you would treat it as though you were body-sitting for your best friend. You would make sure you gave your best friend’s body the right amount of sleep, sunshine, and movement. You’d want to give it the fuels that make it feel best.
    When you spend so much time focusing on what’s right, it leaves little room for what’s not right.
    The thing for me is, though, that if I focus on No This or No That, it makes me want them more. So instead, I focus on what’s right, which is moderation.

  • About those three pounds:
    If every time one gained 3 pounds, they cut back for a a week or two, then they would never reach the the much harder and less healthy point of having to face losing dozens of pounds.
    And I like scales. Sometimes if I am considering over indulging, I remember the pleasure I get from seeing the scale where I like it to be. When I go by my clothes or just how I feel I am likely to kid myself that the pants shrunk or that I’m just in a bad mood.

  • Im very sad to read this blog post. This blog is about happiness and seeking your happiness, not about beating yourself up over eating more than one bowl of cereal.
    Which of your commandments are you breaking to do this?
    1. Be Gretchen. Gretchen is you, and attempting to deny yourself things to be *more* you seems counter productive.
    2. Let it go. Your previous post said it was three pounds. Let it go.
    6. Enjoy the process. Are you enjoying the process of worrying about a small amount of weight? Or the “small” things that you have set out to write about?
    9. Lighten up. Stop worrying, learn to love your body and what it does for you, and who the heck cares about a few extra pounds?
    12. There is only love. Love. Love your body, and you will not care about what the scale says.

  • May

    There are a few things I don’t get about your approach here.
    Labeling your as yet untested & unproved diet plan as “tips” is kind of weird. Have they worked for you yet? Stranger still is your title for the plan in general: Eat Very Right. What does that even mean? Obviously, eating very right is a relative thing, which is why there are so many different books and plans for healthy eating.
    It might be more helpful to come up with a strategy for people in general to employ in figuring out what Healthy Eating means to them (and how they can achieve it).
    Personally, I think the only way a person can “eat very right” is through moderation. You’ve said you agree that moderation is ideal. You’ve also said that you find moderation too difficult — which I sympathize with — so you’re going to diet/pseudo-diet instead. I think you’re cheating yourself out of real happiness here. Who knows, maybe the tough road to learning moderation-in-all-things is the true key to happiness.
    Is this “bootcamp” plan your idea of eating very right? It seems a bit random and very unsustainable, so maybe you’d agree that it isn’t. You said that you want to clean up your eating habits so you’re going to try the bootcamp plan for a month. But this isn’t really going to clean up your eating habits, is it? Or do you hope that some of the tactics you’re employing this month will stay with you in the months to follow, and therefore dieting for a month will improve your eating habits in general? It doesn’t seem likely that a temporary plan would actually fix anything long-term, but I guess that remains to be seen.
    For me, the phrase “eat very right” sounds like the perfectionistic black-and-white kind of thinking that helps people control their own behaviour when they want to align with a certain mode of thinking. You want to eat a bit less, and less impulsively, so you make a plan and say that it represents the Very Right Way of Eating. Thinking about it in those terms, you create Right and Wrong foods where they don’t really exist (there is nothing intrinsically wrong with bread). This helps you avoid foods you think you should avoid, but weren’t avoiding before, even if they made you feel a bit guilty.
    Saying that there is a Right Way and a Wrong Way turns the guilt up a notch or two, and helps you stop and re-examine your behaviour. However, it will only truly work if you deeply believe that your plan is The Very Right Way (and that having a treat is therefore truly Wrong).
    Chances are, you don’t think that. Why? Because, for most people, the act of a single indulgence (ie., eating a frozen yogurt) is morally neutral and inconsequential. Honestly, what are the practical consequences of that one indulgence? Minuscule to none. What is the moral failure in one indulgence? None.
    Which is why we tend to view a history or a speculative future of excess as being a moral failure (as being Wrong): because we’re considering the impact of *too much* indulgence. But we can’t dredge up that kind of feeling about separate instances of indulgence (especially when you’re about to indulge in it). Nor should we: I think this is evidence of moderation’s proper place as the ideal goal.
    If you’ve eaten three yogurts a day, you might think it’s “too much”, but when you’re going for that third yogurt, you also think “there’s nothing wrong with having this now, it won’t hurt.” And both views have a claim to validity.
    So moderation is difficult. But you might find that arbitrarily labeling a single indulgence as absolutely Wrong doesn’t work either.
    (You can experiment with this. Pick something you actually believe is wrong—like, for example, lying. Now focus on avoiding lying at all times. If you believe it’s wrong, you should do well. But what about white lies, the morally ambiguous ones? Try avoiding them too, and listen to your inner dialogue. Are you telling yourself they’re not really wrong? And what do you authentically believe about it? How successful are you at avoiding white lies when you think they’re not really so wrong?)
    Anyway, having worked this out, I suppose my first step towards moderation would be identifying what I truly think is over-indulgence, and setting a reasonable limit which, if I felt tempted to exceed, I would honestly consider to be a moral failure (keeping in mind that the ‘moral failure’ of over-indulgence is seemingly small and hard to pin down, akin to watching too much television or being too unproductive). Then, when tempted, I could remind myself of what I truly believe is over-indulging, and my heart & soul should respond very positively to that. It might be hard to figure out where the over-indulgence limit lies, but if you keep experimenting you’re bound to work it out.
    You really, really, have to be honest with yourself here. Don’t trick yourself, be Gretchen. Do what you honestly think is right, and you’ll do well.
    If you just want to cut calories and lose 3 pounds no matter what, then be real about it. Don’t pretend it’s about good eating or learning to be satisfied with yourself, or “being Gretchen.” And be prepared to yo-yo diet.

  • Yeah, it is better to quit cold turkey then to face temptation frequently. Besides, Tasti D-Lite isn’t real food.
    My problem is that sometimes I’m too tired to “Cook Right”. It is rather troublesome to wash leafy vegetables (e.g. watercress), so I end up just microwaving a burrito for dinner. (Has anyone invented veggie-washer machine yet?)
    My solution is to wash all the produce the day I bought them, and store them in neat boxes in the fridge. It’s gotten a lot easier to “eat right” after I made this little change.

  • Keeping the food journal has buoyed my between meal resolve to stop snacks.
    After supper is a big killer for me.
    Lately I am moving my meal time a bit later to help with evening snacks.
    Also – having a plan is the best. I always over do it when I don’t plan ahead. Oh yeah, let’s eat a bag of popcorn and watch that movie. 🙂 then pow, I wind up eating most of it –
    I love this list thanks GR

  • Joo-Bee

    To some of the posters above- things are what they are and nothing more. The lady wants to lose 3 pounds, because she wants to lose three pounds. Getting happiness from being thin and having a hot bod is nothing to be ashamed of. It makes me happy and makes me more social.
    I hear ya Gretchen, with the moderation vs abstinence. If i have one piece of chocolate, i will most likely have…say 20 more. Moderation is not really something I can do with sweets or chips. So here are some tips from me.
    1) No taking candy/sweets from the candy bowls ever
    2) Snack a lot and remain at all times satiated (yogurt, fruit, fat free pudding, cereal)
    3) sugar free and skim with everything that is available (the calorie savings are amazing)
    4) Get your heart going EVERY DAY for at least 20 minutes (jump rope, lightly jog etc.). I am much less likely to fall off the wagon if I have exercised.
    5) Never buy junk food but….if it is offered, take it. That is my big thing…if someone offers me something, or there’s a free sample, or its someone’s b-day at work. I MUST TAKE THE FREE FOOD. So I never buy myself my own treats…but if there is an offer, i take it (i think this is the 3rd world in me!). It doesnt happen as often as you’d think…especially when you eliminate all treats from your life.
    6) tons of water
    7) plans- if i know i have to be somewhere or am going out (esp when you have to dress up) i am more prone to eat right and exercise.

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  • Lorra

    I follow a raw food diet, and I have found the #1 thing that made it easy for me to give up junk food was learning exactly what it did to my body.
    I used to eat 4-5 chocolate bars a DAY. I NEVER thought I could give up sugar completely – the most I ever did before was 4 weeks and then of course I treated myself to chocolate. It never stuck.
    I have not had refined sugar since January now, except minute amounts on a couple of occasions that I’ve eaten something cooked like curry or ketchup with yam fries. Cutting out the sugar has been the most important thing I’ve done for my health and well being.
    Being vegan and raw I’ve lost 22 lbs this year and I have not exercized either, though I have more energy and am generally more active.
    So yeah…learning what it does to you really helps.

  • Lorra

    Oh, I forgot to mention – there are lots of healthy versions of junky things. I can still have chocolate – chocolate itself (cacao) is amazingly good for you. So if you find yourself wanting sweets, finding a raw version is a good plan.

  • Hahaha! I totally forgot about the endless bowl of cereal trick! I used to do that all the time. It was sometime during my decade of Honey Nut Cheerios. I ate them every morning, and sometimes every afternoon and evening. Now I eat oatmeal, which doesn’t work with the bottomless trick.
    LOVE the wordle link!

  • Stanton

    Agree 100% with what May said. These last couple of posts have had a very strange tone and don’t really seem to be about seeking happiness. They seem more about control. I, too, have thought, “If I just lose five pounds, I’ll be perfect, and I’ll be happy.”
    Didn’t happen. Instead, I found happiness when I abandoned that mentality. (And incidentally, I find that I maintain my weight much more effectively now that I’m not obsessing about food.)
    Best of luck to you in your relationship to food, your body, and happiness.

  • Geo

    I just got home from going to buy a Vita-Mix blender. I have a really great book on smoothies checked out from the library, and I have enough recipes to stretch on into infinity, it seems. I’m pretty excited to have a blender again (last one died a while ago, and I’ve been trying to figure out if I wanted to take the budget plunge and buy a Vita-Mix) and use it to eat more “right” stuff. I was sugar-free and on a very healthy regimen for about a year, and then I said yes to a Krispy Kreme and it was all downhill from there! I’m kidding, sort of. The thing that helps me most to eat well is simply to surround myself with delicious, healthy stuff. If I fill myself with beautiful foods that I love, I’m far less likely to succumb to temptation. The wonderful thing is that when I do succumb, it’s actually a treat, and not a binge. So, maybe the rule of thumb for balance goes something like, Eat your spinach salad first, drink a wholesome smoothie, and THEN see if you still want that Snickers. If you do, go for it. But maybe you won’t make it to the end.

  • Annette

    Hi Gretchen, I read your blog every week and love it. Something like this issue is always going to be controversial and I have enjoyed reading the variety of perspectives on this.
    I mostly disagree with your post, and with the labelling of these musings as “tips”. I like what Josephine and May had to say (May intelligently articulated a fresh perspective on moderation that I thoroughly agree with [well, at least I hadn’t heard it quite like this before, thank you May!]).
    I was particularly disappointed that you recommended avoiding things like pasta and rice over “lean protein”. Not only does your body need carbohydrates as a healthful source of energy, but also unless you combine foods you won’t ingest all of the required amino acids to produce protein. Additionally, if you ARE looking to lose weight, rice (especially basmati rice which has a very low GI) is a very good food choice, so I’m not sure of your motive in suggesting that avoiding rice can be part of “Eating Very Right”.
    Thanks for the blog Gretchen, while I don’t agree with this post I always enjoy what you have to say.

  • BiBi

    I agree with cutting a food out entirely rather than trying to cut back–if that food has a special hold over you. I find I cannot eat even a small bite of cake or cookie–I immediately eat more. However I could eat a small serving of ice cream or frozen yogurt and not over indulge, but that is my husband’s downfall.
    I like many of your ideas and plan to try them. I also like that you are doing it for a set time period. You may end up going longer but by setting a short period you mentally make it more doable. My mom quit smoking by telling herself to just wait 10 minutes before she could have a smoke and then kept redoing it.

  • BiBi

    I agree with cutting a food out entirely rather than trying to cut back–if that food has a special hold over you. I find I cannot eat even a small bite of cake or cookie–I immediately eat more. However I could eat a small serving of ice cream or frozen yogurt and not over indulge, but that is my husband’s downfall.
    I like many of your ideas and plan to try them. I also like that you are doing it for a set time period. You may end up going longer but by setting a short period you mentally make it more doable. My mom quit smoking by telling herself to just wait 10 minutes before she could have a smoke and then kept redoing it.

  • Gretchen – I’m curious as to what kind of cereal you eat? Have you found some that are real food vs. fake??

  • My weight has increased by 16 pounds over the last few years – and as an ex-anorexic I hate that number. But my husband, and others, assure me that I look so much better, and the rational side of me has to agree. So, I don’t weigh myself anymore – it’s a numbers game – as long as my favourite clothes still fit, I will try to stay as I am – without any more weight being added, of course.

  • Funny you should write this – on a whim, I wrote about dieting/eating properly just the other day!
    http://exilednzer.blogspot.com/2008/09/naked-lunch
    My one trick (that isn’t on your list – most of your list makes great sense to me) is to allow myself a treat day once a week. Like you, I have a very sweet tooth, so I try to resist during the week and then have some sweets on Saturday, or on Friday night. That way, it’s a treat and not just something I eat when I should be eating proper food. And I appreciate it more!

  • Jessica

    I’m a long time reader and I absolutely love this blog — thank you for it. But, I’ve said it before, these food posts — to me — are just so guilt-inducing, depressing, stingy, and negative. I really think you should think about what the hold that food and weight-preoccupation have on your happiness. I spent a lot of my life obsessed with food and weight, and it did very little to actually affect my body (I’ve always been trim but not skinny). Instead it just made me self-absorbed and guilt-ridden. When I let go and just tried to eat in moderation, I became so much happier.
    I honestly cannot read these posts any more because they jeopardize my happiness!

  • Jessica

    I strongly support what May said. This isn’t about Eating Right and Being Healthy. It’s a diet to lose three pounds.

  • I tried fasting for a couple of days one time, and I couldn’t believe how great I felt! I finally made the connection between the food that I eat and how I feel. Now I eat far less meat, try to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, and – since I discovered through fasting that I have some allergy to it – I don’t eat wheat ( http://snipr.com/3q7cu ). Whenever I find that I can’t avoid eating the typical midwestern diet of burgers and hot dogs, I start to get irritable, nervous, and generally unhappy. That’s enough to keep me eating well.
    Having such a restricted diet has made me lose lots of weight; but unlike alot of people, that doesn’t thrill me at all. I’m skinny enough as it is, and friends who haven’t seen me for awhile always wonder if I’m doing okay because of it 😛

  • Susan

    Gretchen, I enjoy your blog, but when you talk about Tasti D-Lite I realise what a gulf there is between the US and the UK, or my bit of it. Tasti D-Lite just sounds so plastic. What is the point of eating something so fake? I wouldn’t even want to put it in my mouth. If you want a treat, what could be nicer than some real, fresh raspberries with cream, for example? Or a square or two of high cocoa percentage chocolate? Don’t the ingredients of things like Tasti D-Lite put you off? Do you ever cook stuff from first principles yourself? Apologies if I sound like a humourless European purist…

  • Interesting how the diet posts generate by far the most comments. Is this sweeps week?
    For me, the “cold turkey” type diet is actually satisfying rather than deprivational precisely *because* it turns otherwise morally neutral choices into opportunities to feel virtuous.
    Similarly, I love reading about and sometimes joining in extreme experiments: Cabbage Soup Diets and lemon-and-chili powder fasts and Oprah’s 21-Day Cleanse, because, again, they turn deprivation into something of an adventure or a bonding experience.
    I don’t think anything you’re doing is going to kill you in a month, so go for it! One thing that keeps me abiding by sometimes arbitrary diet rules is by pretending “I’m at a spa, paying $400 a day for the *privilege* of having nothing but this miso soup and an hour of yoga;” or, “At this $400 a day spa, Snickers are not on the menu.” Then the exercise and eating light feel like an indulgence rather than the opposite.
    I’m curious how experiments in deprivation (fad diets, Lenten sacrifices) could relate to happiness – perhaps by way of a feeling of autonomy and self-discipline, or maybe increased religiosity. I’ve always thought giving up sweets for Lent is counterproductive, because it makes a person feel virtuous without actually doing any good in the world, and that that attention could be better directed. But maybe that self-satisfaction is the goal. Is that the same as happiness?

  • I find keeping a food journal very, very useful. Knowing I’m going to write down what ever I put in my mouth helps me stay mindful of what I eat.

  • anna

    One tip I like is to make sure I’m eating what I want. So if I want sugar, I can have sugar then. But if I want to eat a spaghetti, there shouldn’t be sugar in that. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of added sugar, salt and fat in store-bought foods (like corn syrup in spaghetti sauce.)
    So I’ve been doing more from-scratch cooking. That way, if I want to eat, say muffins, but want to cut down on empty calories, then I can make low-sugar, applesauce instead of butter, oatflake muffins, and not feel guilty about it.
    Also, giving myself the easy out: I generally want some snacks during the day, so I make it easy on myself by making a ton of healthful snacks and storing them in the fridge or freezer. The rule is, they have to be really tasty and good for me. So I can’t snack on ice cream, but I can have frozen grapes.
    However, if I really want something junky, I can eat it. But I have to want that particular thing. So if I can’t think straight for wanting ice cream, I can have it. But if I’m just in the mood for a nosh, then ice cream can’t be my choice, and it’s back to the grapes.

  • there are only 10 tips, because there is no #8!

  • Tanya

    How come no one has commented that there’s no number 8?

  • Melissa

    Nobody needs to be “sad” or “disappointed” about this blog! If you are, you’re obviously missing the point entirely.
    This is GRETCHEN’S blog, and her resolution for September — to aid in HER happiness — was to eat very right.
    I hover around my “ideal” weight but would personally be ecstatic if I could lose 3-5 pounds. It doesn’t mean I’m not happy where I am, but I would be even happier if I lose that little bit. That “HAPPY” part is key.
    I certainly got something out of the blog. Way to go, Gretchen! Hope you conquered this goal.