I would like to share with you some simple rules I have assembled which have helped me to lose weight. More than just changing habits and ways of thinking about eating, these rules have helped me to set boundaries which have made it inconvenient for me to eat foods which are fattening.
This article not meant to be profound, and it's not meant to be a nutrition guide. It is about controlling what you eat and controlling your desires to eat fattening foods.
Rule #1: Never eat at restaurants
By "never", I mean that going out to eat once a month won't hurt you, but eating out once a week is definitely too often. Restaurants give you more food than you need to eat, but most people end up eating it anyway. Plus, most restaurant food is loaded with fat and sugar, giving you way more calories than you need. Now, exceptions include when you have to go out of town -- just keep in mind that business trips will cause you to gain weight.
As for saving money, consider how much you spend at a restaurant for a meal. Let's consider a meal that is "only" $7. But then you want a drink, which brings it up to $8.50. Then there's 7% tax which brings you up to $9.10. And then, say, you're cheap on the tip at 10% pre-tax, which brings you up to $9.95. If you eat out once per day, 5 days per week, that's 20 times per month times roughly $9.95, which is $199. And that's just on lunch and only during the work week, which, traditionally, is less than a quarter of your total meals. Between the two of us, my wife and I spend less than $300/month on groceries, which covers all meals, all week.
Rule #2: Always prepare your own meals
This is the key idea behind the diet. If you always prepare your own meals, then you won't eat the junk food you get a restaurants. Plus, you have complete control over what goes into your food. Being in control over what you eat is very important.
Being in control over what you eat also puts you in control over how much you spend on it. Some foods are cheaper than others. You can clip coupons. You can choose which grocery store you shop at. You can save a lot of money this way.
Rule #3: Don't over-prepare
There are some people who really like to cook, and they end up cooking a lot of extra food. One of the reasons this diet works is because you have to put effort into eating. If you make a week's worth of food, not only is it too easy most of the time, but you'll eat a week's worth of food in less than one week, which is over-eating.
My pattern is this: Every evening, I prepare enough food for four meals. That's two servings for dinner each for me and my wife, plus lunch for the next day for both. We don't over-eat. Another problem is that if you over-prepare, then you'll get very quickly bored with what you made. If you get bored with the diet, you'll slip. Don't get bored.
If you insist on making a lot of food at once, I suggest measuring out specific servings for each meal. How much depends on your needs.
Rule #4: No sugar
This is very important rule, but it applies mostly to added sugar. While it's okay to have some honey with your tea, don't over-do it. Complex carbohydrates are acceptable, but adding extra sugar to anything is out of the question. Furthermore, while fruits are good for you, too much fruit juice can also be bad. Sugar, saturated fats, and trans fats are your enemies. Excess fat and sugar together are a sure fire way to gain weight. Still, you need to get a fair portion of your calories from complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, essential fatty acids, and other related things. If you have meat in your diet, like I do, you'll find it much easier to eliminate sugar than fat. You don't want to overeat fat, of course, but you can cut sugar out almost completely. Also, not everything that is sugar is called "sugar". Stay away from other sorts of sweeteners like "corn syrup", which can be worse than sugar for some people.
Another reason to stay away from sugar has to do with intestinal flora. Too much sugar will cause intestinal bacteria and yeast to overpopulate, taking away needed nutrients and leaving behind toxins in their waste products.
Rule #5: No sugar substitutes
Some artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, actually promote weight gain by slowing down your metabolism. But studies on other artificial sweeteners have been done that show that your body gets confused by them. When you eat something sweet, your body expects it's going to get an energy rush. When that rush doesn't happen, your body adapts by making you want to overeat things with more complex carbohydrates. You can do the necessary research, but the point is that anything that causes you to overeat is bad. So, sorry, you can't have soda anymore. No soda, no diet soda.
Rule #6: Learn how to cook
This may seem obvious, but cooking is more than just throwing some meat and veggies into a pan and cooking them. If food doesn't taste good, you won't eat it, and you'll slip off the diet. Herbs and spices are the key! Go buy a large variety of herbs and spices and experiment with different combinations until you learn which combinations work.
Or you can do what I do:
* Decide on something you want to eat (such as "curry chicken").
* Google search for 3 or 4 recipes of the same sort.
* Delete any ingredients which are against the rules or which you don't like.
* Combine what's left from the remaining recipes.
The reason to do this is that you end up with something very much like what you were interested in, but you controlled what you put in and you got a combination of herbs and spices which are appropriate and taste good.
Rule #7: Exercise
Some people lose weight only by exercising, and some lose weight only by eating less. But the long-term most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to make your body more efficient. Eating less will slow you down, so you must compensate by exercising. Exercising will make you want to eat more, so you must compensate by restricting your intake. When exercise is a regular part of your life, your metabolic rate is maintained at a higher level which helps you burn more calories all day. If your body becomes more efficient so that it can get more energy out of fewer calories, fewer free radicals will be produced, and you'll be healthier and live longer.
Rule #8: Don't eat when you're not hungry
When people are gathering to go out to lunch, one of the things I often hear is "I could eat." That person is going out for the social experience, which is fine, but the problem is that they are feeding themselves when they shouldn't be. Now that you're never eating out again, you're also not bound by any arbitrary rules about when you should eat, unless you have an employer with a strictly set "lunch hour." Keep yourself occupied until you're hungry enough that you can't ignore it anymore.
The second part of this is that people don't know when to stop eating. As it's said, their stomach is full before their brain is. Well, my rule is, don't even try to get full. Eat until you are reasonably comfortable and then stop. If you get hungry again later, eat some more. But whatever you do, never stuff yourself. Since it's your food in your own containers, you can just close it up and reheat it again later.
A rule of thumb that works for me is to eat about half of what I've prepared and then get up for some water (don't forget to drink a lot of water!). Usually, I can tell how full I am much more accurately when I'm standing than when I'm sitting. It's like how you don't realize how stuffed you are until you stand up to leave the restaurant. If you've reached the point where "hungry" has turned into "could eat", then it's probably a good time to stop.
Rule #9: There are no loopholes
I have encountered people who "went on a diet" but the whole time sought every loophole they could find. As a result, they didn't lose weight. Don't set up rules for yourself if you're going to take every opportunity to break them, and don't make your rules useless by following the letter of the rules while violating the spirit of the rules. For instance, this diet requires that you buy all your food from the grocery store. But just because you can find it in the grocery store doesn't mean that it's okay to eat. Be smart.
Some recipes for you:
"Meat, veggies, rice, and soup."
* 1.5 pounds of chicken, deboned, defatted, cut up in to bite-sized pieces
* 1 small package of diced ham (up to a cup, for flavor)
* 1 pound of green beans (or mixed vegetables or peas&carrots or whatever)
* 1 to 2 cups of cooked whole-grain rice
* 1 family sized can of "cream of chicken soup"
Put in a baking pan and bake for as long as the meat package says, which is usually like 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
If you layer this, it looks really appetizing. But more importantly, it tastes great too. Note that if the soup has some added sugar in it, don't worry too much, but also don't have this recipe every day either. Serves 4.
* 1 large onion
* 1 green bell pepper
* 1 red bell pepper
* (optionally any other items of this sort you want to add)
* 1 to 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic
* 2 tablespoons of olive oil (more if necessary, eyeball it)
Chop vegetables and mix with garlic and oil. Place in baking pan and broil for 5 minutes.
The broiling caramelizes the vegetables a bit and leaves them crunchy while softening the taste. It can be eaten as broiled, or it can be mixed with marinara sauce and put over whole wheat pasta. Serves up to 4, depending on what you put together.