Saturday, June 27, 2015

Diet Etiquette: Is It Rude to Discuss Other People's Diets?

So yesterday a member of one of my Medifast Facebook groups -- let's call her Carol -- started an interesting thread about co-workers who make derisive comments about her diet. She had declined to partake in the chicken tenders, rolls and potato salad served at a lunch meeting, and someone remarked, "Oh, are you going to be eating your special diet food?"

What's weird is that Carol could have easily responded with some equally snarky comment about her co-worker's hyper-carby meal and how sleepy she and the others would feel after lunch. But having been raised by non-wolves, she just smiled and said "yes" while smarting inside over the rudeness of being called out for eating differently.

While everyone on the thread agreed there is really nothing you can say to jerkwads who try to make you feel like an oddball for not eating what everyone else is eating, the thread digressed to a more general discussion of whether it is ever polite to comment or ask about other people's diets.

To me this dilemma is similar to asking to touch the belly of a pregnant woman. Some expectant mothers are extremely offended when someone requests to touch their belly while others think it is cool that someone wants to share in their miracle.

Though some people who deviate from the standard American diet don't like to be asked what they're eating or why, others welcome the question and relish the chance to talk about it.

The problem is you don't always know who is who.

Personally, I am fascinated by what other people eat, but I always test the water before diving into the pool. I'll ask a simple question or make a comment about someone's meal and then check to see how they react. If they act like I just asked how much money they make, I'll back off immediately. But if they seem comfortable with my food question, I usually follow up. More often than not, I learn something beneficial and forge a tighter bond with that person.

Like weather, food is a great universal ice breaker; and it's a far more interesting topic.  I mean how many times can you say, "Wow, it's really hot outside today!"

My only advice is to refrain from criticizing the way other people eat or suggesting that your way of eating is superior to theirs. How we eat is a deeply personal subject, and if someone is trusting enough to discuss this subject with you, it's not cool to show disdain for their choices.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Why You Should Give Your Maintenance Diet a Name

Now that I have successfully maintained my Medifast fueled weight loss for over a year I am increasingly fascinated by the topic of weight maintenance.

I used to think of weight loss dieting as a finite process. Once I sprinted to the goal, I had won. The race was over.

So even though I had "won" this race many times over with the help of Weight Watchers, Atkins, Jenny Craig and their ilk, I failed to grasp that weight loss is just the beginning of a much longer and more complicated journey called weight maintenance.

Which isn't even a race at all (though if it were, it would be more marathon than sprint).

In the course of our lives, the amount of time it takes us to reach our ideal weight is a sliver compared to the huge slab of pie that forms the rest of our days.

And just as we need a specific plan for how to lose weight, we need a specific plan for keeping that weight off for good.

The cool part about weight maintenance is that we get to figure out that plan for ourselves. Which brings me to why it's important to give our new way of eating a name.

I just finished reading Refuse to Regain by Barbara Berkeley, which provides a very specific guideline for weight maintenance that revolves around something I'm pretty sure the author made up called the Primarian Diet. This diet plan contains a contradictory jumble of concepts, simultaneously claiming to be to be primal and natural, yet including such "foods" as diet Jello and Lean Cuisine. If you are interested in reading this book and learning more about the Primarian Diet, you can check it out here.

One thing I like about the Primarian Diet is that it has a name; so when Aunt Betty offers you a slice of birthday cake you can say, "Oh, sorry, I'm a Primarian; so I can't eat that." She will be too embarrassed by her ignorance to ask you what the heck a Primarian is and refrain from cajoling you into eating just one little piece.

So as you approach your ideal weight, I encourage you to start researching all the various ways of eating out there and develop your own plan that will allow you to maintain your weight loss once you reach your ideal weight. Just because you lost weight with Medifast does not mean the Medifast maintenance plan will help you be successful at keeping your weight off. You may be better off with a Paleo type diet or adhering to some kind of daily carb/protein/fat macro range -- or just avoiding certain food categories like flour and sugar.

Most likely you will tweak your maintenance diet along the way, but ultimately you will create a customized way of eating that will help you maintain your weight loss over many years.

Oh, and do give your new diet a name. Naming something makes it real and present instead of amorphous and easily forgettable. Not only will your Impressivesoundingname Diet help you fend off Aunt Betty and her carb-riddled cake, it will also help remind you not to eat those nachos or cookies and provide you with self-imposed rules for what you can or cannot eat most of the time.

More from Diet Skeptic:

Why I'm Addicted to Chia Seeds

Why Fat Head Pizza Is the Holy Grail of Low Carb Pizzas 

The Shocking Truth About Imported Olive Oil

Making Cauliflower Rice in the Vitamix 

Why WebMD Doesn't Want You to Get Well

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The KonMari Method as a Perfect Metaphor for Weight Loss

I admit to being a little late to the game in hearing about the life-changing magic of tidying up made popular by the younger, non-felonious Martha Stewart of Japan, Marie Kondo, who has paradigm shifted the formerly dreary and anxiety filled chore of de-cluttering one's living space (and, dare I say, making it almost enjoyable).

In case you are even further behind the 8-ball than I on this pop cultural phenomenon, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is not only an international best seller whose author was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2015, the KonMari method (as it's known) is a metaphor for ridding yourself of the emotional baggage tied up with your $#!+ load of stuff.

Which includes clothes that are toolargeortoosmall, the stuffed bear your 16-year-old boyfriend wholatercheatedonyouwithyourbestfriend won at the county fair, and the tapioca beads sitting in your cupboard because two years ago whileinashoppingtranceatSafeway you had the ephemeral desire to make scratch tapioca pudding. Which, of course, you never did.

The signature concept of the KonMari method is to pick up each item in your home and ask yourself the profoundly simple question, "Does this spark joy?"

(Obviously, there is a lot more to it and I highly recommend you purchase the book to learn all the secrets, including how to properly fold socks.)

I have already begun applying the KonMari method to my clothing and am astounded by how many items I was able to discard by asking myself what I wanted to keep instead of what I wanted to get rid of.

Now that may seem like a small difference, but it turns out this counter-intuitive filtering method yields dramatically different results in how many Glad bags you tote off to the Goodwill or dump in the trash. We tend to hold on to things for perverse reasons, such as feeling guilty that we bought them in the first place or having a sentimental attachment because someone gave them to us.

For instance, using the KonMari method on a scarf your mother gave you for your birthday, you would ask yourself "Does this spark joy?" And if the answer is "no," you would thank the scarf for being a reminder of your mother's love and inform it you are now going to help it find a new home where it will be loved and appreciated.

Or let's say you bought a dress on a whim two years ago but never found an occasion to wear it. You might say, "Thank you for that moment of joy I felt when I purchased you, but it turns out we are not really a match; and now I will set you free so that you can find you a better owner."

Of course, you do not really have to make a goodbye speech for each item you discard, but if you're having trouble letting go it is surprisingly helpful.

The main point is the items we hoard store in our homes that we do not use or love impart negative energy every time we interact with them. They figuratively weigh us down by making us feel guilty, wasteful or ungrateful. They also create clutter, making it harder to find the items that do bring us joy.

By lightening our physical load we lighten our emotional load, and this liberating feeling carries over to other aspects of our lives.

Whether it's a friend to whom we no longer feel a connection or a food we eat just because it's sitting on the table, once we get in the habit of choosing things that bring us joy we are less likely to reflexively settle for whatever happens to be there.

I was reminded of this principle the other day when a friend at work offered me a Keebler chocolate chip cookie from her lunch sack. At one time I might have accepted it, even though packaged cookies don't really appeal to me. But these days, I am more selective, and on the rare occasions I eat a cookie it has to be home made or from a good bakery.

Interestingly, the KonMari method promises that if we follow its principles we will never rebound and have to wade through a huge household mess again, which is similar to losing weight and never gaining it back. By consciously seeking joy instead of driving through life on autopilot, we are bound to make better choices that will ultimately make us happier and healthier.

For more information on the KonMari method, watch Marie Kondo's Google Talk or check out my favorite KonMari vlogger Lavendaire here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What's the Point of Pasta?

What's a meal without pasta? Healthier.
Thinking back on my pre-low-carb life,  I can't believe how much I used to count on pasta to complete my meals. If I wanted to prepare a recipe that contained sauce, I thought I needed pasta to ferry the savory liquid to my mouth -- an edible mini van, if you will, whose main purpose was to transport something from one place to another.

Who ever heard of meatballs and marinara sauce without spaghetti? Or Chicken Alfredo without fettuccine?

Of course, there was another "vehicle" that sat humbly on my plate all along that could have done the job just as well -- and with far less damage to my fat cells.

Yep. Good ol' vegetables.

Turns out these colorful foods, which spring from the ground instead of being made in a factory, have the same amazing ability to carry sauce as pasta or rice.

And even though vegetables also contain carbohydrates, they have far fewer grams and way more fiber. Not to mention other healthy stuff, like phytonutrients and vitamins that are not first stripped out and then added back.

Last night I was musing on how much my meal composition mindset had changed when I was contemplating what vegetable to serve with my tomatillo chicken, which had slow cooked all day and was now Tindering for a partner.

Sure I could have served this delicious protein dish over rice or noodles. Or wrapped it up in a tortilla.

But I had some fresh baby spinach in my fridge; so I sauteed it a few minutes with some good olive oil and a few grinds of Trader Joe's garlic and sea salt blend. Then I added the chicken and topped the melange with a handful of Italian four cheese blend until the whole thing was melty and gorgeous. The only thing I forgot to do was take a picture; so you will just have to imagine how good it looked.

The point is that these days, instead of figuring out what shape of pasta will go best with my meals, I consider instead which vegetables will best complement them and leave pasta and rice out of the picture altogether.