People have been asking us over the last few months how things are going, and what the “secret” to our diet is. As I have told everyone who’s asked about it, there really is no secret, and its not a diet — it’s a full blown lifestyle change. But for those of you interested in seeing how we’re approaching it, here’s a list of the “Top 10” changes we have made in persuing a healthier lifestyle. Take it away, Rachel:
The weight loss has been slowing down, but still in a downward trend. I think we need to exercise more; we’ve definitely been slacking off over the winter. But still, since we’ve started, Jason has lost 42 pounds Rachel has lost 35. I still can’t see it in the mirror or when looking at Jason, but clothes fit better and whenever we run into people we haven’t seen in a while, they comment on it. And, I noticed it when looking at a picture of us at a family affair from August.
Many people have asked (obviously those who don’t read OTB regularly) what’s our secret diet? We try to explain that we’re not following any one diet. No, not Weight Watchers or Zone or South Beach or Atkins, or whatever else. Frankly, we’re not even counting calories. I do break down portions of snacky things, even “healthy” snacks (like Soy Crisps or Baked Potato Chips) into about 100 calorie packages (usually a bit less than the package says is a serving). But, no, I don’t know exactly how many calories per day we’ve been consuming. It’s a heck of a lot less than we used to, that’s for sure.
So, no, there is no secret. And it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. It evolves and is based on our research about diabetes, which is of primary concern for us. Here are our “Top 10” lifestyle changes:
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to read our Top 10.
1. Eliminate all white carbohydrates (anything made from processed white flour, corn is also bad, white rice is basically sugar) and eat things made out of whole grains — brown rice, barley (hulled not pearled), quinoa, bulgur, kasha, oats. If you eat bread it has to be of the whole grain variety and has to be of the kind made with minimal sugar. Trader Joes has good whole grain bread, even a 100% rye bread. You cannot eliminate all carbohydrates or you will go crazy and your diet will fail. We buy all kinds of different whole grains and whole wheat pastas and eat usually about 1 cup at a sitting. That’s 4 oz for Rachel of grain and 5 oz for Jason, and about 2 oz of whole wheat pasta (dry weight) per meal.
2. Eliminate all sugar especially anything that contains High Fructose Corn Syrup which is pure poison and exists in virtually all the processed foods you buy in the supermarket. If you have to have chocolate occasionally it should be the very dark kind, like the 70-75 percent stuff used for pastry applications. You can’t eat too much of it anyway because it is very strong and it is bitter. You also want to stay away from foods that are high on the Glycemic Index (GI). Don’t drink fruit juices so much. Try to limit the use of artificial sweeteners. For an occasional sweet hit, a small amount of agave syrup is lower on the GI than honey, or dark maple syrup has some beneficial antioxidants. But these should be consumed in the context of a meal.
3. Eat a lot of protein. White meat chicken, ground turkey breast, fish and seafood, lean beef such as flank steak or London Broil (about once a week) as well as game meats like bison and ostrich. Jason has about 8-10 oz of the protein source per meal, Rachel about 4-6 oz. Also substitute and combine this with tofu, beans and lentils in order to minimize the cholesterol. Soups are an excellent way of adding pulses to your meal plan. I keep our freezer stocked with individual portions of a variety of soups, easy to heat up for lunch or if dinner just wasn’t filling enough. Most of the soups I make are vegetarian or vegan or can be by using water instead of stock. But the beans and lentils I use make them filling, and I usually eat them with a whole grain cracker, like Reduced Fat Triscuits.
4. Eat a lot of big salads and double or triple the portion of vegetables per meal. You can eat all the vegetables you want, especially green and/or cruciferous vegetables. Try to have one big salad meal per day, usually topped with some grilled chicken, boiled shrimp, canned salmon or tuna (try to limit canned tuna to once per week, due to mercury concerns).
5. Only use unsaturated fats like olive oil, sesame oil and spreads like Smart Balance butter substitute or Promise and avoid Trans-Fats. When you go out to eat tell them to cut the butter in half or try to order only things made with olive oil. Ask for sauces and salad dressings on the side and measure out how much you’re allowing yourself. Add nuts to some of your meals, about ½ to 1 oz is a serving, depending on if there’s other fat in the meal. Nuts have a lot of protein, but eat them like they are a fat.
6. Introduce a lot of fiber into your diet. Our primary snack food is air popped popcorn, about 1 quart, popped, is a big serving, use a spray of Pam to help seasonings (Mrs. Dash, or cheese flavored powders) stick to the popcorn. Whole grain breads as toast in the morning, hot, whole grain cereals for breakfast (see below), Brown Rice and other Whole Grains as side dishes with other meals. Buy “hulled” barley rather than “pearled” barley (which is the white rice of barley). Whole wheat berries cook up nice and plump, and stay chewy when cold, so they are good to add to a salad. We also eat a lot of raw vegetable crudite.
7. Eat smaller meals more often. And You HAVE to eat breakfast. Jason usually has an omelet made from egg whites (or yolk free product, like Egg Beaters) and lots of vegetables, occasionally adding a vegan sausage substitute (like Gimme Lean or others from Trader Joes or Whole Foods), or a small amount of cheese (1/2 – 1 oz) for flavoring. Add some hot sauce. Have this along with one slice of whole grain bread (1 tsp Smart Balance if not having cheese in the omelet) and 4-6 oz fresh fruit. Rachel eats hot, whole grain, cereal for breakfast 3-4 times per week (steel cut oats or 7 Grain blend from Whole Foods bulk bins), and this gets cooked with dried fruit (apricots, raisins, cherries; about ½ oz per portion) and topped with freshly toasted nuts (1 oz almonds, pecans, walnuts or peanut butter), and 1 tsp of maple syrup.
8. Drink a lot of water. There’s some complicated way of figuring out how much to drink according to our trainer, and it turns out Jason is supposed to drink nearly 2 gallons per day, and Rachel 1 ½ gallons. Frankly, we never make it to that amount. If we get in our 8 glasses (including tea and diet soda or seltzer), plus all the vegetables and soup we eat, I consider that a great day, water-wise.
9. Exercise. Right now we’re mostly walking. We need to increase our weight bearing activity, that’s what we got the exercise equipment for.
10. Cheat occasionally. It keeps you sane. But try not to go overboard (1/4 cup of ice cream, not a whole pint; a taste of a real dessert at a restaurant, not the whole piece of cake), and get right back on the plan.
Well, I hope this helps those trying to emulate our lifestyle change. And even if you’re not, it gives you some good ideas for incorporating more healthy meals to balance a gourmand life.