Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rules of “The Diet”

This summer, I decided to start eating better, in the hopes of being able to squeeze into a too-small dress. I really didn’t think I would continue The Diet after the first wedding, but then I realized just how easy it was. The Diet turned out to be my summer project. I even started a Twitter account to help me stay on track.

Anyway, I’m not quite sure where the rules of The Diet came from, but I must say that I was certainly inspired by Ed Levine’s Serious Diet, chronicled on Serious Eats. Moderation seems like such a simple concept, and yet, it’s such a difficult idea to put into practice.

I had a couple of false starts to The Diet before I realized that it’s not about sticking to a regime at all—it’s about changing your lifestyle. As it went on, it just got easier, but the start was a little rough.

So enough rambling. I’m just going to list the rules of The Diet as they pop into my head.

1. Eat until you don’t feel hungry anymore, not until you feel full. The brain takes time to realize your stomach is full, so if you eat until you’re full, you’ve already eaten too much. Overeating is a natural gift in my family, so this part was difficult for me at first.

Homemade banh mi

2. Eat less meat, so you can fill up on vegetables. A proper serving size of meat is smaller than the palm of your hand. Plus, eating less meat means that I won’t feel lethargic and bloated after every meal.

Greens for banh xeo

3. Eat more vegetables. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I have become a vegetarian, but I have tried some vegetarian options (especially for lunch) that I normally turn my nose at. Vegetables are like magic foods. They fill you without weighing you down, provide you with nutrients and vitamins, and keep you regular!

4. Drink more water. I have never been able to drink the eight glasses of water/liquids a day, so I would mistake thirst for hunger. It sounds a little dumb, but it’s true. I still struggle with staying hydrated. Drinking more water also helps to fill the stomach, which prevents you from overeating. Now, I try to drink a full glass of water during my meals, giving my brain a chance to figure out that my stomach is filling up.

5. Eat less salt. Salt = water retention = bloat = bad when trying to squeeze into a dress.

Minced garlic and Thai bird chili peppers

Chokingly spicy kimchi

6. Eat flavourful foods. When I started eating more vegetables, I realized that the tastiest item is normally the protein. With less meat and subsequently less flavour, my palate started to get bored. I started crave stinky foods (onions, garlic, fermented anything!) and spicy foods. This ensured that I didn’t miss the smaller portions of meat as much.

7. Stick to The Diet. If The Diet doesn’t work out one day, I try to make it up in the next 24 hours. It instils a sense of discipline and accomplishment when I get myself back on The Diet.

Japanese green tea (matcha) ice cream

8. Eat what makes you happy. There’s really no point in starting a diet if you’re going to be miserable the entire time. You’ll just quit sooner, so I made sure to eat what want. I just ate less of it and less frequently. Then, these little treats become a luxury and a reward.

Of course, diet isn’t the only key to losing weight and feeling better. Exercise is probably the easiest way to lose weight. Once you start getting fit, your body naturally craves healthier foods. I’ve also started walking further to get my lunch (gotta work for it!) and taking the stairs. I am still working on trying to run in the morning, but I don’t think I’ll chronicle that in this blog, unless I start taking pictures of where I’ve been.

So that’s pretty much it for The Diet! It looks like a lot of work, but once you get in the habit of making better food choices, it’s pretty easy.


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