I started this diet and lost 8 lbs. in about a month and a half! I probably would have kept losing but I got sick with bronchitis for a month and a half and then the holidays came, so it threw me off. But I am back on it and hope to get back to losing!
I found out I was hypoglycemic. Even before that, I wanted to "eat right" and exercise more. My doctor confirmed that I have a blood sugar problem which could turn into diabetes if I don't give up sugar. I also have high cholesterol so she advised me to cut out fat.
I have tried diets and sometimes they work but it's hard for me to get motivated and stay on them. The risk of getting sick or dying has spurred me on, as well as wanting to lose about 50-60 lbs that I've gained in the past 15 years.
I love food and especially sweets so it was hard for me, but I've finally succeeded, I think, in coming up with a meal plan that works for me. The "organized" diets work for some people, like Slimfast, Atkins, etc. but they usually require me giving up stuff I really like or that's hard to eat when you're eating out. Any good diet will require a change in eating habits. I had poor eating habits! I ate a lot of junk food, especially desserts.
Because of the hypoglycemia, the first step is eating every two or three hours, whether you're hungry or not, right when you get up (I think this will work for anyone, though, not just people with blood sugar problems). If you're eating, you won't be hungry. Sounds simple, huh! I tend to over-eat if I wait until I'm hungry, and I wait too long to eat. That's my problem. I have what they call fasting hypoglymia. If you have the reactive kind, this diet probably won't work as well for you because it has too many natural sugars or carbs.
I read a magazine article in Time that first helped me get the idea of how to eat right. It said things that I had heard over the years, but something just clicked and I decided to go with their advice. It said to eat more fruits and vegetables; eat chicken and fish over red meat; drink 1-2 glasses of milk a day; and snack on healthy things such as nuts and seeds and whole wheat crackers. It also said to exercise. This is also supported by the Mayo Clinic's Food Pyramid, which is healthier than the one the FDA provides.
So these are my dieting rules. I hope it helps you as well.
1. cut out all fried foods (especially fast food)
2. cut out all sugary desserts and snacks ( sweet junk food)
3. try to eat chicken, turkey (both without skin) whenever possible over pork or beef.
4. Try to eat more fish.
5. Eat as many vegys (especially green ones) and fruits as possible.
6. pastas, potatoes, and wheat bread products are acceptable but only in small amounts (not many servings per day).
7. eat every two or three hours whether you're hungry or not.
8. Drink 2-3 glasses of milk a day (no more than 1 1/2%)--it fills you up.
9. Reduce portion sizes; don't over-eat.
10. Exercise more.
These are not as easy as you might imagine. For one thing, I don't like many vegetables. I had to find ones I could tolerate. For another, it takes preparation/planning.
This is my tendency. I'm a little hungry so I go in the kitchen. I open the fridge door, look around, go, "I don't know what I want" and then sit down. A little later, I'm really hungry so I grab the most convenient food I can find to eat (which is not usually the most nutritious) and eat too much of it. This is what I'm trying to avoid.
The only green vegys I like are green beans, asparagus, green peppers, broccoli, lettuce, and uncooked spinach. So I make salads (dressing is allowed as long as you don't overdo it; I also add sunflower seeds and nuts) and look around at the frozen food section for stuff I might like.
Taste is not really important here, it's important to eat before you get hungry so you don't eat the wrong things. I make kind of a game or challenge out of it. How many healthy things can I make myself eat? How small can I make my portions? How little salad dressing can I put on the salad and still like it? How little margarine can I put on my toast? Eventually your tastes adjust to your diet change. It may never taste as good as a donut but at least if you can tolerate it, that's the key.
The hungrier you are, the more you will care about taste, especially sugary stuff. If you crave sugar, then you are probably just hungry. Eat something. Better yet, eat on a regular schedule, before you even get hungry.
Searching on the web for vegy recipes is helpful if you like to cook. Cooking takes more preparation! You have to buy stuff at the store ahead of time. You have to have time to cook your food rather than just nuking it or taking it out of the package. Seems obvious but if you are not used to cooking or planning, it can be hard. Don't plan a lot of elaborate meals, just try one recipe per week as a start and eventually it will become easier.
Now you may say, eat every two or three hours? I would gain weight! Not if you keep the portions small and you're eating healthy stuff. I'm not talking about eating huge meals here. You just eat a snack or small meal until you're full. Don't be afraid to keep leftovers.
If you hate to cook, I find that Lean Cuisine makes some nice small meals. But you don't want to be eating those too many times per day because they generally have too much added sugar. They are processed so they're not as healthy as eating raw food. Cooking scares novices but it's really not hard. Any idiot can do it. Just stop being afraid and try it. Stop being lazy or you will never lose weight. It's that simple.
The key here is not just to think about weight loss, but to think about eating healthier. You want to live a long time and be in better shape.
Here are the kinds of things I keep in my house. Yours may vary according to your likes or dislikes:
Frozen chicken breasts (easy to nuke to defrost and then you can fry them with Pam or broil them in the oven; I like to put spices on them. Check out your store's spice section, they have lots of great spice combos you can use, like barbecue, taco, etc. I also use a lot of garlic salt, parmesan cheese, and red pepper to spice up my food. Experiment, you will like it!
Frozen dinners from Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice
A variety of frozen vegys that I like or I'm going to try
Frozen waffles (I like those for occasional breakfasts, they are not too fattening--no syrup! I eat them like toast)
frozen strawberries and raspberries (I really love making smoothies with different kind of fruits, it's easy and tastes like milkshakes)
Notice my freezer has no ice cream, pies, etc. Get rid of that stuff! Throw it out or give it to a friend. If you live with someone who's not on a diet, they still don't need that junk. Tell them how important it is for you both to eat right. Threaten them if necessary :) If they love you, they will want you to be healthy. They can always hide candy bars in their own belongings. If you have kids, they should be eating healthy, too!
assorted cheeses (cheese is a great snack)
fresh fruits and vegetables including lettuce of different types, celery, green and red peppers, baby carrots, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
About lettuce: iceberg is not very healthy. I hate washing and cutting up lettuce. One of our markets has a section with mixed greens (meslun) that I really love. You can also get some great selections in those "salads in a bag". You want as much green as possible. When I make a salad, I cut off some of the broccoli heads and chop up a few carrots. Sometimes I'll add peppers or tomatoes. I always put in some feta cheese and sunflower seeds. Even my husband has started to like it and he usually will only eat iceberg lettuce and dressing, ha ha!
Country Crock Lite (stay away from butter and regular margarines, they are really bad for you! This stuff tastes pretty good, too--use it sparingly!)
Digiorno pastas (I love these) I usually eat them with a little Country Crock, parmesan cheese, and garlic salt. Yum!
Hellman's Light Mayonnaise
A large tub of nonfat plain yogurt (I use it in the smoothies but it's good in a lot of recipes, too)
Marie's salad dressing
flavored lowfat yogurts
pickles, olives, mustard, etc. Don't eat too many olives, they are fattening
V-8 (tasty vegys in a can)
lowfat lunch meat
Wheat Thins (reduced fat or Multi-grain)
Whole wheat bread
mixed nuts (good for a small snack)
peanut butter (don't over do it)
Equal (for my smoothies and my cereal)
soups (good for a small meal or snack--I try to get Healthy Choice)
raisin bran (studies show that if you start your day with a bowl of healthy cereal, you will actually lose weight; I like it with a banana cut up in it; any non-sugary cereal will do. Total is also good)
microwave lite popcorn
Slimfast snack bars (not too often)
Lays Wow chips mesquite bbq
These are the things I eat now. Notice there are plenty of snacks! I try to eat the vegys and fruits more than the starchy snacks.
A word about sugar: I love it but it is really bad for me. Heck, it's bad for all of us. It's very difficult to avoid all sugars or all carbs (carbs turn into sugars in your body). But if you try to cut back, it will help a lot. I try to avoid any sweet snacks, junk food. I have cut down on bread, crackers, potatoes, and pasta. I will sometimes not buy a product if it has a lot of added sugar, but generally I don't look too hard at food labels. You can go crazy counting those things. Also, eating sugar makes you want to eat more sugar. It's easier to cut it out completely, believe it or not, then just cutting down.
This is my typical day of meals (usually I wouldn't eat exactly every two hours, more like 2-3, it just depends...):
noon (I get up late!): a bowl of cereal with Equal and a banana
2pm a turkey sandwich with a glass of milk (sometimes with the fat free chips if I am really hungry)
4pm a smoothie or piece of fruit
6pm a big salad and a glass of milk
8pm some nuts
10pm some wheat thins with cheese (not very many)
12am some microwaved frozen vegys or some sliced up vegys with dressing
2am usually I'm not hungry by now....I go to sleep sometime between now and 4am
We go out to eat sometimes and luckily my husband is also on a diet. We go to Subway or Chick Fil-a for lunch, or maybe the Chinese buffet. I try to fill up on vegys and chicken at the buffet and not go back more than once.
Oh, and I have also cut down on alcohol; I hardly ever drink now unless it's a special occasion. Too many calories and too much sugar!
Exercise is also important; I'm lazy, too. I try to get on the treadmill or go for a walk at least 3-4 times a week.
This diet is what works for me. You may have to adjust the menu for your own tastes and habits, but if you follow the ten rules it should work, unless you're allergic to milk or most vegetables.
If you say, Oh, I can't give up fast food, or Oh, I can't do without chocolate, then you are just not really interested in dieting....for any real diet you have to cut out fat and sugar, and exercise. No way around it. The point of my diet is to make it a little easier to change your diet. The great thing about it is you won't be hungry, which to me is the worst part of any diet.
NOTE: I am not a dietician, doctor, or anything like this. This diet is only for myself and friends who recognize the logic of it. I have read a lot about health, nutrition, and diet over the years so that's what I'm basing this all on, besides the sources I mentioned.