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Food for Though

Small steps to beat the creep

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

When it comes to losing weight - or preventing weight gain - it's the small changes that make the biggest difference ...Read the full article

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  1. A person from Toronto, Canada writes: Great tips. What I find frustrating is that my metabolism seems to be slowing down as I age. I remember being able to eat anything I wanted in my early and mid-twenties. When I hit thirty, I noticed that I couldn't eat anything I wanted without suffering the consequences on the scale and I started to have to watch what I ate. Now in my mid-thirties, I find that the "normal" amount I have to eat to maintain my weight would be what I would have considered being on a diet when I was in my twenties. Each year it's harder and harder just to maintain my weight, let alone lose the few pounds I might have gained.

    The saddest part is that when I was in high school and universersity, I used to bemoan my thighs - now I would KILL to look like that again. We never appreciate what we have, right?
  2. franke james from Toronto, writes: Excellent advice. I've found that choosing small things to cut back on and making sure I do 10,000 steps per day helps me to keep my weight under control. 100 calories a day seems like nothing, but as Leslie points out, it does add up.

    Another tip: I use my clothes and a tape measure instead of weight scales. Then there is no fooling myself over "water weight."
  3. Cynical Optimist from Canmore, Canada writes: Great article. I find that dropping cream in my coffee (probably 100 cal/day), no butter, and less bread has made a big difference fo me.
  4. Carol Dougans from Canada writes: Comment to person in their mid-thirties - wait until you are in your mid-fifties; it gets worse!

    Question re the walking: do these have to be fast steps or will any old steps do?
  5. Western Girl from Canada writes:
    Wow - where are the Beck Bashers? They're usually out in force by now...
  6. S E from Calgary, Canada writes: Carol Dougans - I'm not a fitness expert, but in my experience when someone references 'steps', they are just plain old steps at whatever pace you normally keep. Of course, if you can go for a power-walk or easy jog and get your heartrate up a bit, you'll probably burn more calories, but I think the idea is to find a pace that you can maintain.
  7. Matthew McGarvey from Ottawa, Canada writes: I find even just watching portions carefully works. "Portions" on labels are very misleading and rarely reflect the amount people naturally eat. For instance, good old healthy hummus is "portioned" on the label by the tablespoon. If I didn't use a lot of self-control, I could easily eat a small tub of it in a sitting, but I would be eating about 6 times the "portion" they list. Cereals are another area - a "portion" of granola in a bowl looks very small, but packs a lot of caloric content. Those 100 or 150 calorie snacks are handy no-brainers for keeping portions under control too.

    And some things surprise you pleasantly. A dealcoholized Beck's beer has 60 calories, less than a cup of tomato juice and far less than a fruit juice or sports drink. Unlike most non-alcohol beer, it also tastes good. So if you're thirsty after some exercise and want more than water, drink beer instead of juice.

    Drink your coffee black, use mustard instead of mayo, take the stairs and go for a stroll every day and next year you'll be thanking yourself for it.
  8. Hart Oldenburg from Canada writes: Hello calorie counters. Aren't you depriving yourself of the pleasure of
    simply enjoying a meal? You are yourself, an individual with a specific taste, with a gut control to guide you--- if you let it.
    The above article, another diet and you know the success rate of those-----------'Living smart' from hartsmartliving.com
  9. Tula Tam from Selkirk, MB, Canada writes: A few years ago, I weaned myself off sugar in coffee -- 3/4 tsp., then 1/2, then even less. Now I drink coffee with skim milk and no sugar. Still tastes good.

    Hasn't helped with the rest of the flab still there but, hey, could have been worse!
  10. Crystal Glass from Over here!, Canada writes: I've NEVER had the luxury of being able to eat what I wanted. Never. Not even as an active teen. As a late 30's female, I find it really hard to shake excess weight but it's coming off slowly. I do refuse to give up cream in my coffee, though. Geez. I could see if I drank 4 cups of coffee a day, but I drink one and I like to enjoy it. I agree with Hart on that one, that food is to be enjoyed (in moderation). If I'm not enjoying it, why bother eating/drinking it?!
  11. Debi I from Toronto, Canada writes: Having just returned to the healthy, fit side of myself once again, I concur with Leslie Beck - small changes do add up and make the difference. I don't count steps, calories, fat or sodium content, although I am aware of all of these factors. My daughter once referred to me as a walking salt shaker and, after a shaky start, I've finally managed to eliminate any grain of added salt. I try to cook everything from scratch, which took some time to accomplish, as I had relied heavily on prepared salads, sides and entrees for many years. I do weigh myself and I do notice how my clothes fit, but my journey is more about what choices I make and how I feel when I wake in the morning and reflect on the previous 24 hours, which then sets the tone for that day. My sister (who is also now healthier and fitter) recommended those 100-150 calorie snacks, which I initially rejected as empty calories and a cash grab for the manufacturers, but once I tried them, I realized how they meld perfectly into my rejuvenated lifestyle. Slow but steady and everything in moderation is winning my race at 55.
  12. Jay Wortman MD from West Vancouver, Canada writes: This article is based on a report written by Jim Hill from University of Colorado in Denver. He is a staunch believer in the idea that a calorie is a calorie regardless of the type of food you get it from and that every calorie counts. From that he deduces that any reduction in calories will have a cumulative benefit. Unfortunately, this is only a theory. It has never been proven in any meaningful trial. He admits this in an article he wrote in Science magazine a while back but continues to promote this as if it were fact. Bottom line - this is nonsense but since, on the surface, it seems to be logical many people will waste a lot of time trying to implement it and will end up disappointed with the results.
  13. Murray Braithwaite from Canada writes: I have found incremental change works well. Over eight years, as I incrementally removed starches and sugar and added fat, my weight dropped incrementally, from 180 down to 155, where I have been for over two years. (Except for a bout of weight loss during a trip to Italy during which I ate mostly cheese.) This morning my percent body fat measured at 7.5%. During this period, I have never counted calories, kept a food journal or any other distracting gimmicks. More important is satiation management. For this one should consume saturated and monounsaturated fats at the beginning of a meal, bitter leafy vegetables, protein and bacteria-cultured dairy. All of these have been shown to stimulate a sense of satiation that stops the appetite. Look to the Mediterranean diet--typically a salad with bitter vegetable (arugula, radicchio, etc.), fresh cheese (protein/saturated fat/pro-biotic culture), olive oil (monounsaturated fat).

    Walking is fine but it won't help much to lose weight. It will just make you hungry. walking after meals, however, is very good, as it helps reduce post-prindal blodd sugar and takes strain off your liver. Even the Romans had figured this out 2000 years ago, as they walked five Roman miles after dinner to aid the liver.
  14. AnitaSharmaBlog.com - from Toronto, Canada writes: A Person from Toronto: I'm in the same boat. What helps me is exactly what the article states: portion control; big, healthy breakfast; cutting out "little" things (ie. no sugar in tea). I've never been a gym bunny but yoga, jogging, walking help a great deal. Good luck to you.

    Lastly, for dessert lovers (like me!) would be great to see more restaurants offer mini "nibbles" instead of huge portions...sigh.
  15. Stewart Midwinter from Calgary, Canada writes: Just get on your bike and ride to/from work and the corner store. It's easy, fun, saves time in your busy day (cycling is faster than driving or transit, either outright, or at least including the fact that your bike ride reduces your need to go to the gym 3 times per week) and is good for your mental health as well as your physical health (no traffic jams for cyclists!).

    You don't see many fat cyclists.
  16. J Lee from Canada writes: What year was this article recycled from? 2008? 1998? 1988? 1978? 1968? 1958? I know (because I have heard it so much) that it is hard, very hard, and even supremely hard to lose weight. Even if French women can do it, it is still hard, very hard and supremely hard to lose weight. But even after hearing about all the fasting, frustrations and futility of most people, I am still on the look-out for that fat woman who is a long distance cyclist. I have never met one in all my years on the road.
  17. Vicky Pollard from Canada writes: The article is great. But you have to be patient and that is the hardest thing to do.

    A 1 or 2 pound weekly weight loss may be too mickey mouse for some.

    I have only been successful at weight loss once, and that is because I am dead-terrified of diabetes (my best friend's got it). So I started to eat like he would.

    My initial weightloss was an impressive 4-5 pounds in the first two weeks and then dropped to 1 or 2, but by then I had the habits formed.

    I've kept my wight off by following very simple rules:

    -don't keep anything yummy-but-bad in the house
    -do some sort of physical activity
    -tell your friends you are trying to lose weight and don't let them bully you with phrases such as "only a bite", "c'mon, you gotta live life"....
    -stick to your guns when eating out and enjoy a huge salad with a piece of salmon or chicken and vinagrette instead of fatty dressings.
    -cut the alcohol, just think of your poor liver and pancreas
    -be strong, it feels great to be able to buy cool clothes, get second glances and know that you are on your way to enjoy a healthier old-age :)

    They say that if you can do something for 21 days straight, it's a habit. I've been on track for nearly 6 months and hope to keep on the wagon for the long run. I wish success to all of you that are trying, it's not easy.
  18. I'm mad as hell from god's country from Canada writes: I agree with everything Leslie said. Portion control is particularly important. Using smaller dishes really works. For example, for my morning cereral, I use a dessert dish and not a cereal bowl. I eat more or less what I want but in (usually) very small amounts. However, I really wish restaurants would get with the program and realize that not everybody has a huge appetite. They should either serve smaller portions or offer meals in 2 sizes. Usually when I dine out, I have to ask for a doggy bag for my main course if I want to have dessert.
  19. Western Girl from Canada writes: Oh, hey, Murray and Jay, there you are... The weight of the evidence on the forum today, forgive the pun, is that the small incremental change approach is very helpful for many. Just reinforces for me the fact there is no one approach that works for everyone. I follow Vicky's advice about not keeping "yummy but bad" stuff in the house. Leftover Halloween candy? Gone November 1 - to the police station, usually. I never keep a store of junk food in the house - if I really, really want a chocolate bar or a bag of chips, I buy it, eat it, and it's done and gone. I shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and never stock up on prepared or convenience foods unless it's a few boxes of Lean Cuisine in the office fridge for busy lunch hours. Through Weight Watchers, I learned about portion control and the power of choice - I can choose to eat that bag of chips and burn through my "points" allowance, or I can choose healthier foods and feel fuller longer (and less guilty). Over time my palate changed - I no longer find fatty, salty, or overly sweet foods appealing as diet staples (as occasional treats, sure, but a little now goes a long way - deep fried foods, even that rare bag of chips, give me monumental heart burn.) Food journaling, which our food-and-fitness-obsessed friend Murray finds so "gimmicky", is a cornerstone of the better weight management programs out there, and it just plain works. Jay, I'm glad you're not my GP. I'd find going to see you so discouraging I might not even want to try this, which, as far as "fads" go, seems pretty innocuous.
  20. Murray Braithwaite from Canada writes: You bet I'm food-and-fitness obsessed. Give me liberty or give me Lean Cuisine....
  21. Western Girl from Canada writes:
    My point Murray - it's possible to be healthy and imperfectly human at the same time. YMMV, obviously. :-)
  22. Geof Wyght from Cincinnati, United States writes: Excellent article.
  23. Jay Wortman MD from West Vancouver, Canada writes: Western Girl - I actually agree with you in the sense that people have to find an approach that works for them and that they can sustain over the long haul. My beef is with the zealots who think theirs is the only way and all others are infidels and therefore subject to ridicule and abuse. I do ask, however, that people like Leslie who are advocates, support their positions with credible science and this is where I am so often disappointed. The science behind the approach she supports, typified in this article, is shaky to say the least. Even without immersing yourself in the literature, just have a look around you and at what has happened over the last four decades and you can conclude that the approach has been a dismal failure. Yet, the excellent science supporting a different approach, high fat/low carb is dismissed. Correcting that is what motivates me to post here.
    BTW - I eat without concern for calories, I maximize my fat intake and, although fit and active, I exercise less than I would like, yet I have excellent metabolic markers and have maintained a steady (ideal) body weight for years. All I do is avoid carbs. What's so discouraging about that?
  24. Western Girl from Canada writes: Jay - zealotry of any sort is bad, I agree. But I guess the same would hold for your high fat/low carb diet - which has more than its fair share of whirly-eyed evangelical followers - which nevertheless clearly seems to work for YOU. Many others find it too difficult to follow for long, and a program that isn't followed doesn't work. I go with the advice offered to distance runners like myself - about 60% of my diet being carbs in the form of lots of raw or lightly cooked veg, some fruit, and sprouted whole grains, focusing on the lower end of the glycemic index. The rest is simply-prepared protein and very little added fat - and the odd indulgence. Seems to work, no doubt I could tweak it. I don't buy your argument of "look around you, it's obvious the incremental approach doesn't work". The diet industry focuses pretty much exclusively on huge, rapid weight loss with bizarre food exclusions and unrealistic meal planning (who in the real world - or their right mind - drinks a sugar-loaded Slimfast shake and calls it a meal??), with no maintenance or counselling plans to address non-hunger-based eating patterns, for example. Failure rates are huge, people naturally get discouraged, and think this "dieting" approach is the only way to lose weight. I wonder how many have actually heard of and tried the incremental approach as a weight loss tool or resource. Relatively few, I think. Ms Beck has just presented another option for people to try - as with any kind of behaviour change, its success depends on a personal desire to change for one's long term well-being (not just the upcoming class reunion), adequate motivation, and surrounding ones's self with encouraging environments and people, not saboteurs.
  25. Jay Wortman MD from West Vancouver, Canada writes: Western Girl - I am familiar with a lot of commercial diet products that are unsustainable for many who try them. No argument there. However, my observations on the lack of success of the conventional approach to weight management, which has been amply promoted over the last few decades during which time the problem has accelerated, reflects the fact that the conventional approach itself is something very few people can follow over the long term. In studies where a high fat/low carb diet is tested head to head with a typical weight loss diet, the compliance is usually significantly higher for the low-carb folks. There are lots of people like me who have figured out how to do it over the long haul. That is remarkable when you consider how virtually everyone in a position of authority tells you not to do it, that it is harmful for your kidneys, that it will cause a heart attack, etc etc - all wrong, BTW.
    Also, my stamina improved significantly when I shifted from glucose to fat as my primary fuel. I share stories with other colleagues who have had similar experiences.
    Since you seem to have an inquiring mind, you might consider reading Gary Taubes' book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories". I think you will find it interesting.
  26. Murray Braithwaite from Canada writes: Western Girl, I've been posting on these fora for some time that recent research has discovered remarkable genetic variation among people, much of which affects fat gain, fat loss, starch tolerance, glucose toelrance, lactose tolerance, etc. Plainly no one plan fits all, as I have been emphasizing for some time. Just as plainly, my genes are not as carbohydrate tolerant as what most people impliedly claim to be and my body thrives on 65 % fat. Of course, most fat in factory foods is essentially rancid grease, which means I have to be particular about sourcing, storing and cooking fats. Call it an obsession. That said, we all have common genes that code to signal satiation to the brain--they may vary in degree of expression, but ignoring them can result in a lot of stress and frustration.
  27. Western Girl from Canada writes: Jay - I'll look it up, thanks. Murray - good on you for finding something that works for you, and yes, if you're going to base your diet on fats, choosing and using them well would seem to be critical. And no doubt people routinely ignore the "full" signal, or don't realize how comparatively little they have to eat to trigger it. I guess I'm just too much of a pragmatist, not much of an idealist. Few people out there are going to go to the lengths Murray and Jay do to find something that works for them. Most of us don't have the educational background, the time, or the resources to immerse ourselves in gathering all the data that would inform an effective individualized program. Some might even conclude that if THIS is what it takes to achieve a healthy weight, well heck, pass the Chunky Monkey with all due haste. I suspect Leslie Beck is a pragmatist in her practice too - I'd bet that she could count on one hand the folks she's counselled that actually achieve and maintain their weight loss goals over the long term, and that most of her day is spent on just trying to get people to avoid second helpings and to walk more. Working to achieve good health is simply not where many people's interests and values lie - not a judgment, just a truth.
  28. Jay Wortman MD from West Vancouver, Canada writes: Western Girl - I agree, if you give people advice that doesn't work and steer them away from something that does, why wouldn't they give up and drown in the Chunky Monkey?
  29. S S from Canada writes: Excellent advice……..
    A little over a year ago I decided to lose the extra pounds I had acuminated over the years. I decided the best way to do this was NOT on a “fad” diet, but simply to get back to basics. I made those small changes, such as cutting the sugar in my morning coffee in half, eliminating all soft drinks, eliminating the processed foods that use to fill my freezer, cutting out the sweets, eating 5 to 6 small portions a day of healthy “real” foods including breakfast which I had not done in many years ( I was a notorious 2 meal a day guy usually starting at around noonish) and one of the most important changes was I went to the gym. The combination of moderate exercise and the healthy eating habits finally caught up to me and within 9 to 10 months of sticking to these small changes, I had dropped 40 pounds and about 5 inches off my mid-section and am back to the weight I was in my early 20’s. Breaking the bad habits is a bit of a challenge, but once you change your routine and do it for a while, it becomes a lot easier, and the rewards you get are a real motivation to stick with it. You feel and look better, have more energy and get the satisfaction of achieving your goal. The only down side? all the money for a new wardrobe LOL.
    To anyone who has been considering making the change, DO IT !!!!! but do not get discouraged if you do not see dramatic changes really fast. Set your goal to stick with it for at least a year, I only saw about a 10 pound loss in the first 6 months, the dramatic changes (30 more pounds) in months 7 thru 10. And if I can do it, anyone can.

    Best of luck…….
  30. Chris . from Australia writes: Here's my formula: fatty foods (saturated only, with unprocessed olive oil as well) and lots of eggs and tofu. Any bread products (including pizza) are handmade by me. Either running/walking/cycling to work everyday, bus only when I'm sick, climbing twice a week (for muscle building, important for a girl) That's it. If my jeans start feeling a bit tight, I eat a bit less.

    I'm with Murray on the fat bit, but again, only simple saturates, not messed up unsats. Canola and the others are modified to withstand high heats, which renders them borderline toxic. Stick to butter, and be active.
  31. Anna Korenova from Czech Republic writes: So what? I'd rather have a few extra pounds and enjoy life than be a skinny orhorectic.
  32. S S from Canada writes: Anna Korenova from Czech Republic writes: So what? I'd rather have a few extra pounds and enjoy life than be a skinny orhorectic.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To each there own. But, if you are NOT happy with those few extra pounds then change it.
    By the way, you can enjoy life skinny too.
  33. Pepper Gee from Toronto, Canada writes: Want to lose weight? Eat less. It works. Want to lose flab? Work out. It works.
  34. Murray Braithwaite from Canada writes: "I have never met one in all my years on the road. " I find this comment interesting because it is strong evidence that riding distance cycling is not an effective solution for shedding excess body fat. If it were, the observer would have seen some fat people as distance cyclists. The fact the observer has never seen a single fat person long distance cycling means the observer only has evidence no fat person has lost fat from distance riding. This is evidence there is a sieve effect--fat people avoid distance cycling because they lack energy or it is uncomfortable. I am lean and find bike saddles uncomfortable for distance cycling and require a special saddle. I suspect it would be even more uncomfortable for overweight people.
  35. Peter The Not Quite Great from Canada writes: Makes sense. I work in a 3 story building and the vast majority of my co-workers use the elevator to travel just one floor up or down.

    Unfortunately, for many of them it the inactivity is really starting to show. Using the stairs is one simple change many of them could make.
  36. Liam Bergh from Toronto, Heard and Mc Donald Islands writes: If you eat well most of the time and exercise most days in the week you'll be fine. No big deal. If you do this, you can treat yourself with candy and baked goods a couple times a week like I do! Hip Hip Hooray!
  37. Check your facts from Canada writes: Jay Wortman MD from West Vancouver, Canada writes: I do ask, however, that people like Leslie who are advocates, support their positions with credible science and this is where I am so often disappointed. Yet, the excellent science supporting a different approach, high fat/low carb is dismissed. Correcting that is what motivates me to post here. BTW - I eat without concern for calories, I maximize my fat intake and, although fit and active, I exercise less than I would like, yet I have excellent metabolic markers and have maintained a steady (ideal) body weight for years. All I do is avoid carbs. What's so discouraging about that?

    Are you really a medical doctor?

    The science does not appear to support your approach.

    http://tinyurl.com/cco2tg
    http://tinyurl.com/coaang
    http://tinyurl.com/d72j9d
    http://tinyurl.com/czyzqk
  38. Jay Wortman MD from West Vancouver, Canada writes: Check your facts - the sites you reference are actually very good examples of how poorly done science and selection bias is used to reinforce the status quo. If you want to look at some good scientific literature on this subject, start with nutritionandmetabolism.com, an open-access peer-reviewed scientific journal. Look for articles by Westman, Volek, Phinney for starters.
    You might also read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes whose extensive review of the science shows how we have been poorly served by the nutritional science establishment and that the current approach is more faith-based than science-based.
    And, yes I really am a doctor.
  39. stand up mimi from Vancouver, Canada writes: Check your facts - It was assumptions, not science, that led to the high carb, low fat recommendations of the last few decades. Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes is a well researched book that documents how we were led down the wrong path. The science actually supports Dr. Wortman's approach, which he has backed up with his own research.

    Even though diabetics in particular benefit from low carb, high fat diets, they are still being given the advice of the day, which is to eat 5-12 servings of grains - essentially a diet that replaces needed fat with carbs. This advice is not based on evidence. It wreaks havoc with blood sugars. And yet, my husband (a Type I diabetic) is still being given charts telling him to eat all the bagels he wants (disaster!), but to "limit" intake of nuts and cheese, which are far healthier.

    The fact that there is a serious problem with Type II diabetes and obesity tells me the status quo recommendation of eating low fat, high carb meals hasn't exactly helped anyone.
  40. Leaving Sooon from Canada writes: Good tips!

    Another one - if you really do like mayo, there is ultalow and nofat mayo around. It's good as an addition and in potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad. There is one that has the body break people on it that is good.

    And never underestimate the power of vinegar and spices as an oil replacement!

    Oh and using a spray oil on the pans is another small easy change.

    I think what is very challenging is finding balance. The number of calories where you will not gain and will not lose weight (with the amount of activity you actually* do). That threshold is very difficult to establish without extreme awareness.

    Another extreme challenge is retraining our brains to *not
    eat all the food on the plate. We are trained to feel bad about wasting but that is not healthy.
  41. Check your facts from Canada writes: Jay Wortman MD from West Vancouver, Canada writes: Check your facts - the sites you reference are actually very good examples of how poorly done science and selection bias is used to reinforce the status quo.

    I am not a medical professional and have limited access to medical journals other than what is open access, but most of what I can find seems to indicate that Atkins-like diets have been debunked. I will keep an open mind, but really don't yet have enough information to judge competing claims that the other side uses poor science.

    Since good health, not weight, should be the goal, what about some of the claims that either too much fat or not enough carbohydrates can lead to specific health problems?
  42. Jay Wortman MD from West Vancouver, Canada writes: Check your facts - there has been a fairly concerted effort to defend the status quo from the idea that a low-carb diet should be a valid option. The problem is that whenever a study is done, if subjects reduce their carbs even a bit, the results generally show better weight loss as well as improved metabolic markers when compared to more conventional diets. If you look at the Quackwatch piece, for instance, the worst they can say is that the long-term benefits of a low-carb diet have not been proven. I collaborate with clinicians who have patients who have followed very low-carb diets for several years now and they all maintain their weight loss and metabolic benefits. That has been the case in my own experience, as well. For instance, I know Dr Mike Eades, of Protein Power fame, who tells me that in all his experience with patients as they restrict carbs, none have ever had a serious cardiovascular problem. These are people who are at high risk and just the odds in terms of patient years would mandate that some should have had a problem. There is a brief report in the nutritionandmetabolism.com journal which describes a Scandinavian study where people were followed for 44 months. They maintained their weight loss and blood sugar improvements and the low-carb group had about 90% less cardiovascular events that the regular diet group. Unfortunately, none of this evidence meets the standards required to mandate wide implementation of this approach. The problem, of course, is that the kinds of large, long-terms studies that are needed just aren't being done. Nobody is going to get a patent or get rich in the end so nobody is willing to fund the needed research. Go figure.
  43. crafty kd from Canada writes: Western Girl, I like it! Junk food is not kept in the house in 'econo' quantities, but it doesn't mean you never have it. I like fatty, salty foods as much as the next gal, but when you reduce it in your diet and then overindulge, you feel like heck! ;-) I'm on my second weight loss trip (first was in my 20's, now in my 30's), and I'm going about it a totally different way. It's a lot slower, but it feels more sustainable. Time will tell, I guess... First time I was into fat-free, calorie-free, taste-free everything, and let myself be hungry when I thought I'd eaten 'enough' calories for the day (stupid!)... Now I eat (almost) the same things as I ate when not 'dieting', only in smaller quantities. Snacking is not eliminated, but snacks don't last an hour (or all day)... If I'm hungry between meals, I eat, but I don't sit and munch on tasteless air-in-a-bag for an hour. I actually eat something real (fruit, nuts, toast, yogourt)... I did make some changes. I'm eating more vegetables and fruit than before, less bread, and a lot less processed food (though still some). I do sometimes have low-fat foods, particularly dairy, but never fat-free since I don't like it. I also have cream in my coffee, since I like it that way! You work it in... When I cut out all the fake foods and junk, and ate real food that was satisfying, I found it easier to stay within the caloric limits to lose weight. Though, on days when I'm hungry and go over my 'limit', then I go over the limit and start again fresh the next day. :-)
  44. Shirley Jackson from Oliver, BC, Canada writes: Counting calories is more than a scientific theory -- it's a physical law like the law of gravity. It's the 1st law of Thermodynamics: the conservation of mass and energy in transformations.
  45. CC Rider from Toronto, Canada writes: Too bad such an article hits the media for all to applaud.....our society is so food obsessed any article with "tips" is viewed as good......get a life people.....quit filling your face and give your body the exercise it needs.......you are probably so lazy you don't return your shopping carts, but leave them in the parking lot, park as close as you can to the door of your favorite store which is probably a restaurant and drive to the postbox which is just up the street to pick up your mail.........and get off that seefood diet.....all the food I see I eat...........SIMPLE.........NO SECRET.......eat less (you won't starve) and move your butt.........
  46. Jay Wortman MD from West Vancouver, Canada writes: Shirley Jackson - there are two errors in applying the 1st law of thermodynamics to human metabolism:
    1) the human body is not a closed system, and
    2) calories in and calories out are not independent variables.
    In other words, the metabolic consequences of eating, for example, sugar are vastly different from those of eating that same amount of calories as fat or protein. We are not bomb calorimeters in which food is simply incinerated; we use complex systems and pathways to metabolize our food that are subject to a huge number of variables in the process. The idea that it is a simple calories in = calories out equation is far off the mark.
  47. Murray Braithwaite from Canada writes: A problem with the calories-in conjecture is that it assumes stored fat is always accessible as fuel, so that merely reducing dietary calorie uptake will reduce stored fat. However, elevated blood glucose from getting most calories (however many) from starch and sugar blocks the release of fat from fat cells. An obese person eating a calorie-reduced but high percentage of starch diet will simply lack energy, and not burn fat (excpet perhaps in the later stages of a long sleep, after the system has cleared the carbohydrates and lowered bllod sugar). Experiments have shown obsese mice can be made to starve on a high-percentage carbohydrate reduced calorie diet without reducing stored fat. Further, a continual diet where most calories are from starch/sugar will deactivate genes and cells that produce glucagon. In a non-carbohydrate-addicted body, insulin reduces blood sugar and glucagon causes the liver to bring blood sugar up to normal range. Part of the difficulty with the Atkins diet is that almost everyone in Western scoiety is a carb addict and going low-carb cold turkey causes bouts of low blood sugar, for a varying number of weeks (depending on the severity of the carb addiction), until the glucagon gene activity can be restored by the metabolism. You can identify a carb addict because they get low blood sugar between meals, cannot produce glucagon and so need a carb snack, which blocks fat release for fuel. I have found that since eliminating starchy foods, I can go from a robust breakfast at 6 am (lots of nuts, yoghurt, berries and a salad), I do not eat again until about 2 pm, after a vigourous half-hour workout (33 minutes, 130 bpm average heart rate). Once your genes have recovered from carb addiction, low blood sugar is rarely a problem and snacking issues disappear.
  48. Meghan Telpner from Canada writes: It is also important to note- when embarking on any healthier eating plan, that if you do decide to have that piece of cake or that glass of wine- it doesn't mean the day is shot and you might as well indulge every craving.
  49. My eyes are open, Are yours? from Canada writes: What no one has mentioned, is you have to do some sort of resistance type exercise especially as you get older, to preserve your muscle mass. Even just push ups and lunges. Otherwise, you start to lose your muscle, and as a result, your metabolism drops, so you can eat less and less.

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