To Count or Not To Count (calories, that is) – That is The Question

603469_58343949A conversation started between me and some other people on (and off) Twitter today.  It all started when my friend at Miz Fit Online blogged about what she eats, because a lot people are curious and want to know.

She talks about how personally she doesn’t count calories or points, doesn’t go hungry, doesn’t think about macronutrients, but instead  ’eats clean.’  She says:

“The cleaner you eat the more calories you can consume while not gaining weight.”

 In short, for her, eating clean is:

 “High quality foods which are as free as you can get them of not-found-in-nature additives.”  

And I do the same.  

She also says how people are sometimes surprised that she doesn’t eat like a bird.  And I don’t eat like a bird either (people are often shocked when they see I eat like a ‘normal’ person).

In her post, Miz Fit also said:

“a calorie isnt a calorie isnt a calorie & I learned to read labels.”

and that is SO true (no matter what some people say about it only being calories in vs. calories out — the type of calories DO matter).

I made a comment on her blog post  how I eat and think a lot like she does.  Then I went on Twitter and posted part of my original comment:  

“I too NEVER count calories, don’t go hungry, DO go for taste, REAL taste of REAL food.”

Well, that got some people talking.  And it got me thinking.  

People dieting, or trying to maintain their weight, often ask me the question:  To Count or Not to Count?

They want to know:   What should I count?  Should I count calories, fat grams, carbs, points, etc?  

So, here’s what I think:

Everybody needs to find what works for THEM.  We are all different, we have different needs, lifestyles, jobs, and we all like different foods.  Yes, it is better to eat broccoli than french fries from a fast food joint — but you already know that.

Though I don’t count calories or points, it took me a while to get there.  I do eat “intuitively,” and it took me a while to get there.  And I listen to my body to know what to eat……but it took me a while to get there.  I can eat a bowl of ice cream without devouring (or wanting to devour) the whole thing, BUT (you guessed it…) it took me a while to get there. (more on that below, because I can take you there faster!)

I know a lot of you DO count points, calories, fat grams, etc.  

And if that’s what makes you feel comfortable and what works for you — then that’s okay.  

You won’t, and really can’t, count calories your entire life (who wants that?).  But I know, especially in the beginning,  you may need or want to.  It helps you stay on track and keep control.  I get that.  I’ve been there and done that.  So I really understand.

But you don’t have to do this your entire life.  

You can get to the point of where I am today.  You can eat intuitively, know what your body wants, and eat “guilty” foods without losing control.  It can be done.  You just need to take one step at a time.  And you need the right TOOLS to help you along the way.

I do have clients that are following diet plans, like Weight Watchers, or South Beach, or whatever.  And that’s okay.  It makes them comfortable in the beginning.  Because if I just say “listen to your body” they don’t understand how to do it.  Working together I get them to a place where they can listen to their body and not count calories or points anymore.  And they never go back.

Okay — so now you’re screaming:  ”But I want to know HOW I can get to that place!”  

HOW can I lose weight without counting calories or points?

Well, it just so happens that I’m putting together a program that teaches you.  It gives you the tools so you can start to live a life without counting.  It won’t happen overnight, because we all know that a “quick fix”  won’t work in the long run.  

I took me a while to get there, but you can take what I learned, experienced, and have taught my clients — to save you time, energy, and yes, even money.

Because it doesn’t have to take you years.  It doesn’t have to take forever.  And you don’t have to wait until “someday” to eat comfortably like a “normal” person.  And it doesn’t have to be hard.   Learn from me and I’ll show you the way.  The road is right there, you just can’t see it.  I’ll help take down those roadblocks so you CAN see the road.

It just takes knowing what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and why.  

So stay tuned as I will give you the tools.  And you don’t have to build a mansion with them.  Just a small house.  A nice, comfortable, clean house.  You can do it.  I know you can.  Because I have, my clients have, and the hundreds of other people I’ve helped in workshops and seminars have.  

And if you have to count calories or points right now, that’s okay.  It really is.

Why You Need to Move Forward This Spring

 

Spring is officially here.  It’s a time of rebirth and renewal.  A time for nature to come out of hibernation and rejuvenate. 

Personally, I feel there’s just something magical about Spring.  The birds come back and I hear them chirping, I begin see the flowers budding, and I feel the sun getting warmer.  It’s lightens my spirit.

For many people, it’s a time when we begin to reflect on our life.  Kind of like in the New Year, but will less “expectations.”  I like that about Spring, there’s less stress of having to make a change.

But there’s a difference between “reflecting” and “looking to the past.”

You see, when I’m working with my clients I see they too often look to the past.  They look at how they didn’t lose weight before (or lost it and gained most of it back!) and see themselves as a failure.  And they keep this in their head.

I help them overcome this because looking back too much can keep you from moving forward.

So as Spring is here, I ask you to stop looking back and start looking forward.

Maybe right now, you know you have poor habits and they’re leaving you tired, stressed, overwhelmed, overweight, and unhappy.

But imagine if today, this first day of Spring, you decided to take back your health — and started eating better, getting fit, and took back control over food (instead of letting it controlling you).  And you continued on this journey all year.  And the more you did it, the easier it got.

Now imagine one year from now – it’s the first day of Spring next year.  How you would feel?   Imagine the feeling of being slimmer, of feeling really good in your skin, of being physically fit AND emotionally strong. 

I bet you’d feel sexy, confident, self-assured, and happy – really happy.  Not that smile you put on so others think you’re happy.  I mean happiness that just RADIATES from the inside and it shows on the outside.

Imagine waking up in the morning and the first thing you think of is NOT food, NOT the bathroom scale, NOT what your stomach or thighs look like, and NOT how you wish you could wear better or smaller clothes. 

Instead, you wake up with a sense of energy and excitement for the day.   When you get undressed before going in the shower you’re actually happy to look in the mirror and like what you see.  You forget all about the bathroom scale.

When you get dressed you’re actually happy to put on bright clothes that fit your body well, instead of wearing dark colors to cover or hide any excess weight.  You actually look forward to your meals and when you sit down to eat, you’re relaxed and not thinking about the calorie content.

It CAN happen.  It DOES happen.  I see it every day.

But you need to look forward.  Keep that image in your mind, of the “new you” a year from now.  Don’t look back and moan and groan about how you couldn’t make it work in the past.  Forget about it.  Let it go.  Move on.

It’s time for renewal.  A time for you to let go of the past, and look into the future.  Because just like every winter, though it may seem long, and dark and dreary, but eventually it turns into Spring.  And the birds come back to sing, the flowers start to bloom and show their colors, and the sun begins to shine a bit brighter and longer. 

And you can do the same.  You can start to sing again, to bloom, and really shine.  

Let go of the past and look to the future.  And this same first day of Spring next year, you will feel the renewal, both inside and out.

An Egg-ceptional Food For Weight Loss

 

Over the past few decades eggs have gotten a bad rap.  They were deemed bad for us and told they were a sure-fire way to a heart attack. 
 
But scientists and researchers have now changed their tune and let eggs out of jail.  A growing body of evidence now shows that eggs can supply essential benefits for the brain, the eyes, the heart, and yes, even help with weight loss — without any clinically significant impact on cholesterol. 
 
Setting the Record Straight about Cholesterol
Studies have shown that there is virtually no association between eating eggs and the risk of heart disease.
 
Although egg yolks do contain cholesterol, researchers now know that levels of saturated fat in the diet, not dietary cholesterol, is what has the greatest impact on blood cholesterol levels, which are thought to predict heart disease risk. 
  
But Are Eggs Really Healthy?
Yes! Eggs are an egg-ceptional whole food  (I couldn’t resist).  So if you haven’t been eating eggs lately, here are some facts so you don’t “chicken out” and won’t be afraid of eggs (including the yolk):
 
 
Excellent Source of Protein
Eggs are a natural, high-quality food that is one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods (meaning it has a very high proportion of nutrients per calorie).   For the approximate 60 calories of a large egg, you get roughly 6 grams of the highest quality protein around (about 11% of the daily value).  
 

Boost Brain Health
Eggs are a source of the B vitamin choline.  Choline is a vital nutrient that contributes to fetal brain development, prevents birth defects, and aids in the brain function of adults. 
 
A striking 90% of Americans are choline deficient, so eating an egg time-to-time time will only help you.  This is especially true concerning pregnant women, as choline is necessary for brain and memory development in the fetus

And the choline is found in the egg yolk.  So don’t forgo the egg yolk. Egg yolks have also been found to have anti-clotting agents, which help reduce the risks for heart attack and strokes.
 
 
Seeing is Believing 
Another good thing about egg yolks is that they contain carotenoids that have many beneficial effects on eye health.  A diet rich in carotenoids guard against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness.         

 

 

Helps With Weight-Loss
Studies have shown that eggs may be helpful in weight loss because of two effects:  one on the changes in blood sugar (the glycemic index), and the other on our sense of fullness & satiety.
 
When we eat eggs along with other foods high in carbohydrates, the increase in our blood sugar and insulin levels is slower and we don’t get that big swing up and then down. This helps keep the body’s sense of hunger in check.
 
Also, eggs’ satiety index is 50% more than that of most breakfast cereals – meaning eggs keeps you fuller twice as long.This effect on satiety could be very important as part of a weight loss program or of a program to minimize weight gain.
  
 
Not Just For Breakfast 
Eggs need not be only for breakfast.  I’ll often have them for lunch or dinner, along with a salad, beans or a vegetable, and some bread.  Plus, they’re SO versatile!  When I have leftover veggies I often chop them up and add them to an omelet.
 
So I urge you to add eggs to your diet.

Like anything else, it’s all about moderation.  Having eggs a few times a week will make you healthier, give you more energy, and provide you with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals you won’t find anywhere else.  Now that’s egg-ceptional!

Are You On the Roller Coaster Ride of Eating?

 

As I get many questions from readers, I’ve decided to start answering some here on my blog.  Here’s one from this week:
    

Q I feel like my day is a constant roller coaster ride of eating based on EMOTIONS, so I feel it’s hard for me to listen to my body like I so often hear we should do.

 

A:  Let me tell you, I used to be first in line on the roller coaster ride!  I’ve had almost every emotion imaginable when it comes to food.  

It seemed my day would be a “good” day or “bad” day based upon what I ate.  Think about it, basing your day solely what you eat should not be how we live our lives.  But I did that.  Even within a day I would have these highs & lows around food — so I get that.  

A few months ago I had lunch with Dr. Paul Rozin, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and renowned researcher who studies the psychological, cultural and biological factors that affect human food choice. 

We talked about how what and WHY we eat is determined by our biology, our culture and our individual experiences — it’s not just a matter of eating the right foods.  So many other strong forces affect our eating decisions. 

It takes looking deeper than just the food — because anyone who has struggled with his or her weight, just like I have, knows it’s not just about the food.  There is so much more to it and these forces are powerful, but knowing how to deal with them is key. 

This is why when I work with clients, we don’t just look at the scale.  We look at many other factors that affect one’s eating:  emotions, peer pressure, social stigma, family values, etc.  There are many factors that go into losing weight and keeping it off other than “counting calories or points.”

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 


Easy Recipe – Homemade Crustless Apple Pie

In your quest to get healthy and lose weight — you need to learn how to appreciate food, to take pleasure in it, and start eating REAL foods (instead of the fake stuff we’re constantly told is ‘good for us’ when in reality it’s not).

Yet a challenge people often come across is finding recipes that are easy, healthy AND taste good. 

I recently found a blog  How to Cook Like Your Grandmother, by Drew Kime, which does just that (Drew is also author of a cookbook by the same name).

Drew is all about making food that tastes good and is healthy, by using real wholesome ingredients.  As Drew makes cooking so easy, I invited him to share one of his recipes, which you’ll see below.

Be sure to also check out Drew’s 10-day online course in the basics of cooking, “Starting From Scratch” which is completely FREE!

So enjoy the recipe.  Trust me, it’s quick, easy, and much healthier and better for you than anything you could buy at the store.

Bon appétit!

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Homemade Crustless Apple Pie

Though I’ll admit to a weakness for a nice crumb topping, I’m not actually that much a fan of pie crust. To me it’s just something to hold the filling together. Something you have to deal with if you’re going to have apple pie.

Except … you don’t. I’ve had versions of this dish that were obviously out of a jar. Probably full or corn syrup and preservatives. It would have made a great topping for a banana split when I was 8, but that’s about the best I can say about it.

And the “whipped cream” … don’t even get me started on that thin, watery, artificial mess. I don’t even want to think about it, much less describe it.

Which is why I knew I had to make this when Dinneen asked me to write this post for her blog. I could show how easy it is to make from scratch. And hopefully convince you how much better it tastes when you use real food.

Ingredients

4 large apples

2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat (or butter)

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Topping

whipped cream

– or –

vanilla ice cream

 

Directions

If you’re making this for kids, you’ll probably want to peel the apples. I prefer the texture from the peel, and the color looks much better. Either way, cut them into eighths and cut out the stem and seeds.

Now you can ask the question you’ve been thinking since you read the ingredients: Bacon fat? Yes, bacon fat. Butter works, but it scorches easily. If you use butter, add about a half-teaspoon of salt with the sugar. Melt the fat over medium heat in a non-stick pan.

Once the fat is melted, carefully lay in enough apples to cover the bottom of the pan, then pour in the rest. (You want to do the a layer first so the fat doesn’t splatter when you dump it all in.) Then stir or toss the apples to coat them all evenly.

Add about a half teaspoon of cinnamon — just enough for a light dusting over all the apples — plus a tablespoon of sugar, and give it another stir.

Put a lid on, turn the heat down very low, and leave it covered for about 15 minutes. Stir once halfway through.

Check to see that they’re fork tender. (Make sure you let all the steam from the bottom of the lid run back into the pan. You’ll need that liquid later.) If they’re still crunchy in the middle, simmer for another five minutes at a time until they’re soft all the way through. Then taste. Add more cinnamon if it needs it.

Now add another tablespoon of sugar and stir. With the liquid that has come out of the apples, plus the sugar you just added, you’ve got the makings of a nice syrup. Leave the lid off, turn the heat up to medium, and stir constantly as the liquid thickens up. Don’t leave it alone, it can burn very easily.

Arrange a single layer of apples in a plate. Add a scoop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Spoon a little bit of the syrup over the top.

And that’s it. Four ingredients — plus a topping — and better than any candy-sweet mush you’ll get in a jar.

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For over 200 more recipes that would have looked at home on your grandmother’s table — including directions for making your own whipped cream (it’s easier than you think) — check out How To Cook Like Your Grandmother.

Are You a Food Victim?

This article was written by yours truly, Dinneen Diette, and previously posted as a guest post on Mizfitonline.com  

It received such amazing feedback that we decided to post it here.  We hope it will help inspire you too:

“Dinneen’s main focus is helping women make peace with food and, if they lose weight in the process, then it’s the full fat icing on the proverbial protein cake (get it? everything in moderation? treats are good? no? oh, ok.)

As this week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week**, I asked Dinneen to stop by and tell us what that means to her.” –MizFit

(**Note: Eating Disorders Awareness Week was last week, but the information & insight here is valuable any week of the year!)

As a weight loss coach and mentor, I help many women lose weight, look better AND feel better, and I’m constantly meeting women who struggle with food and their weight.  And I get it, as I’ve been there myself.

For years I struggled to lose weight, and even when I was finally  “thin,” I spent many more years eating low-fat, low-calorie, and low-tasting foods.  Food and eating was not an enjoyment for me.  Any food I ate that was remotely decadent or a “bad” food, left me feeling guilty and eventually lead me to overeat.  And so started a vicious cycle of dieting, losing weight, putting it back on, dieting again, and on and on.

What I ate either helped me lose weight, or gain weight, or so I thought.  It wasn’t until a trip to Italy, and then a few years later living & working in France, did I learn that I could enjoy foods without guilt, lose weight and stay slim.

My world was literally turned upside down.   And so was my life.

And so began a journey of education, self-awareness, and self-growth that led me to the extraordinary life I live today.  I can eat the foods I love, and still stay healthy, and yes, slim.

As a weight-loss coach and mentor I help women and men lose weight, get healthy, and feel good about themselves.  And part of that is helping them with their relationship with food. 

You see, it wasn’t’ until I changed my relationship with food was I able to lose weight and keep if off, and without deprivation.

Even Oprah Winfrey has had ups & downs with her weight and, in my opinion, she will not keep it off until she has a healthy relationship with food. (for more about my thoughts about Oprah and her weight, visit my blog post from earlier this year).

In my business I’ve come across women (and young girls) who suffer from an eating disorder.  Eating disorders arise from a variety of physical, emotional, and social issues, all of which need to be addressed for effective prevention and treatment. 

This week, February 22-28, 2009, is the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  If you suspect, or know, someone suffering from the disease please visit the website of the National Eating Disorders Association.  There you will find an abundance of information and resources to help support those affected by eating disorders.  It is there to help a friend, family member, colleague, or loved one get help.

In the United States alone, over 11 million people suffer from an eating disorder, and millions more suffer with a binge eating disorder.  More people die every year from an eating disorder than any other mental illness.  Yes, it’s that bad and that prevalent.

Also, statistics say that more than one in three ‘normal’ dieters progress to pathological dieting (that is, it becomes a very unhealthy obsession with food & weight).

So help spread the word.

I see too many women, of all ages, obsessed with their weight and their bodies – and they look fine!   In my mission to help women lose weight and be HEALTHY, it is also my mission help women feel good in their body, no matter what the scale says.  Now that is something to be proud of.  I sure am.

Do You Know When to Stop Eating?

Here’s a question for you.  When you eat – whether it be a meal or a snack – when do you stop?  Is it:

1) When you’ve finished everything on your plate?

2) When the box or bag is empty? 

3) When the TV show is over?

4) When you feel full?

If you answered #4 – good for you!  You probably have a healthy weight and are maintaining it.

However, if you answered any of the first three, you may need to take a look at your eating style, or more precisely, your fullness factor.

A key element in keeping your weight down is whether you use internal or external cues to signal that it’s time to put down your fork and step away from the table.

Last year researchers at Cornell University studied people in the U.S. and France to better understand how they decide they’ve had enough to eat. The researchers found that the more people relied on external cues, the heavier they were.  External cues are just what the terms says, outside signals – like an empty plate or the end of a TV show – that tell people when to stop eating. 

Those who used internal cues – like feeling full – were more likely to be of normal weight.

Not surprisingly, it was the French who most often used internal cues.  This is a key reason why they stay slim while still eating high-fat foods such as pastry and cheese.

These findings were touted as “news” but I can tell you, for me this was something I witnessed first-hand when I worked for a French travel company and also when I lived in France.

In general, the French eat until they’re full and then stop.  With they key word here being “stop.”  When they’ve had enough they don’t take seconds and just walk away (or stay seated at the table but don’t eat anymore).

The French attitude towards food emphasizes internal cues related to the pleasure of eating and minimizes opportunities from external cues. 

The Japanese have similar attitudes.  They have a saying that recommends “Hara hachi bunme”, which means “Eat until you are 80 percent full.”  Like the French, the Japanese eat slowly, enjoy the food for it’s flavor, and eat much smaller portions than Americans.

So now you’re thinking, “But how do I know when I’m full (never mind 80% full!) and when to stop?”

How to Know When You’re Full

If you don’t know when you’re full, you need to train yourself to pay attention to internal cues and diminish the influences of external cues. 

But first, be aware that it takes about 15 minutes for your stomach to send a message to your brain that you’re full.  This may be why the Japanese say to stop eating at 80% full (but I don’t know for sure – I’d love to get some insights from anyone Japanese!).

When you find yourself finishing off your plate and reaching for seconds, take a moment to stop and relax.  Talk to others you’re eating with, or if dining alone you can take the break to write in a food journal. 

You just may be surprised that after even 5 minutes, you may not want that second helping after all.