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‘Don’t Eat List’ helping, not taking over
January 16, 2014 - Andy Flynn
This week: 446 lbs.
Last week: 452 lbs.
Start weight: 470 lbs.
Total lost: 24 lbs.
People keep asking me how I’m losing weight and what diet plan I’m following. The simple answer is I’m not on a specific plan, even though I have a list of guidelines I’ve been trying to follow.
With entrepreneurs constantly looking to swindle a few bucks from people desperate to lose weight, there’s a lot of crap out there. Fad diet plans don’t work, and there’s a book, DVD, gadget and app for everything on the market. Only a change in lifestyle will create lasting results. And that’s the premise of the Lake Placid Diet. How can Lake Placid — a fit community by many standards — help me change my lifestyle so I can lose weight and keep it off?
I’m not going into this weight-loss journey blind, as some people may think; I’ve had many years of practice. Throughout that roller-coaster ride, I’ve noted what works and what doesn’t for me, and I’ve compiled a set of guidelines tailored for my lifestyle, habits, tastes and personal demons.
In January 2012, I put a first draft of this rule book into action, losing 40 pounds in the process, from 470 to 430, but I gave up well before the summer. My problem was the guidelines were too strict, and when I fell off the wagon in mid-April, I didn’t recover for many months, eventually gaining all that weight back within a year-and-a-half. That’s why I’ve included “be flexible” in my 10 tips for a successful diet, published with my first column (Dec. 20).
I’m finally in the right frame of mind to concentrate on losing weight, and I attribute the 24 pounds I’ve lost in the past month to several things: the added pressure of losing weight in the public eye; my support network; eating breakfast and lunch regularly; starting an exercise program; listening to the advice from local health and wellness professionals; trying to stick to the suggested 1,800-calorie-a-day food plan drafted by my Adirondack Health dietician, Sharon Sorgule; and following my Don’t Eat List.
That’s right, I have a Don’t Eat List, which I thought was brilliant until I spoke with Wynde Kate Reese, nutrition consultant and co-owner of Green Goddess Natural Market, located at 2051 Saranac Ave.
On Monday, Jan. 6, I met with Reese to begin a year-long nutrition consultation program. At the beginning of the hour-long appointment, she said one of her goals is to come up with Do Eat List for me. That was before I admitted to having a Don’t Eat List, which made me feel a little guilty until I re-read the list to her. Then I didn’t feel so bad.
You see, the Don’t Eat List was designed to keep me away from problem foods and bad habits that lead to overeating and weight gain.
However, as long as I’m being flexible, which means I don’t say, “No, I can’t have it,” I’ll be fine. Instead, I’ve been saying, “I can have that if I want, but I just don’t want it right now.” With my “be flexible” clause, I reserve the right to have a piece of chocolate once in a while. I just have to eat it in moderation.
And that’s the major change from the 2012 plan. I shouldn’t have to go through life denying myself good food and drink, as long as I’m being sensible about it and not overindulging.
Here’s the Don’t Eat List and reasons why I’m trying to avoid these foods as much as possible:
1. Caffeine: While a cup of coffee in the morning and some type of chocolate at night brighten up my day, I get heart flutters when I drink too much coffee and when work gets too stressful. I figure the less caffeine the better. A cup of coffee periodically doesn’t hurt, and I enjoy it, so I take this one in moderation.
2. Salty snacks: I have a salt tooth rather than a sweet tooth, which is not good for my figure or for my elevated blood pressure. I’m not on blood pressure medication, but because of my size, it is higher than normal. The salt also stimulates water retention, which is one of my health problems. I’ve had swollen legs, ankles and feet for several years, and that’s not good for my heart. So my doctor told me to keep my salt intake down in the hope that the water will eventually move out of my legs (exercise also helps move the water away from the legs).
3. Sweets (cake, cookies, pie, candy, ice cream, etc.): This is a no-brainer. Sweets are loaded with sugar, fat and empty calories. Instead, I’ve been eating fresh fruit. Sometimes I’ll add yogurt.
4. Stewart’s food: With my newspaper job, many times I have to eat on the go. Stewart’s food — particularly the breakfast sandwiches and burgers — has filled this need, but it isn’t the healthiest food, so I’m trying to stay away from it.
5. Alcoholic beverages: In addition to the empty calories, consuming alcohol leads to food binges, so I’m staying away from having a handful at a time. I don’t drink alcohol on a regular basis, so this isn’t a problem for me, but once I have two or three drinks, I?can’t control my hunger. At that point, I lose the ability to care about overeating. At the same time, I don’t want to deny myself something I enjoy — a beer or glass of Irish whiskey once in a while. So I’m trying an experiment: I’m having one drink a week. Since this is the Lake Placid Diet, I’m sticking to local beer and liquor. On Saturday night, I drank one bottle of Ubu ale from Lake Placid Craft Brewing. And I still lost 6 pounds this week.
6. Cheese: I do have some parmesan cheese once and a while for flavoring, but generally I’m trying to stay away from cheese because of the fat and the salt. Plus, I have a hard time eating cheese in moderation, so it’s best I stay away from it as much as possible.
7. Butter, margarine, mayonnaise and sour cream: I have a little butter once in a while for flavoring, and I don’t feel guilty about it, but I generally try to stay away from these foods because of the fat and extra calories. I hate light and fat-free sour cream and mayonnaise and have found it easy to live without the full-fat versions.
8. Processed meats (pepperoni, sausage, hot dogs, deli meat, etc.): I’m trying to stick to foods that aren’t processed, so these meats are out just because of that requirement. Plus, they have a high amount of salt and saturated fat.
9. Fast food: This is another no-brainer. There are few foods at these restaurants that fit the diet I would like to follow. There is too much fat, sugar and salt in most of the food, and much of it is processed. McDonald’s has salads, but it’s best for me to stay away; otherwise, I may succumb to buying some burgers. A typical McDonald’s meal for me used to be four McDoubles, a Big Mac or Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and two large fries. Sometimes I’d throw in a Diet Coke. What about a turkey sub at Subway? That’s processed meat. However, I will order a veggie sub on whole wheat with mustard.
10. Processed frozen food: There is a lot of fat, sugar and salt in these foods and who knows what else. Some say they are food-like products and not real food because they’re jacked up with chemicals so they’re addicting. I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know anything about that, but I remember my first addictive food: frozen burritos from the Schwan’s truck that my mother bought when I was a kid. It was a quick meal. I loved them so much as a teenager that I ate them at all times of the day. I wonder what they put in those things that made them so addicting? I also got hooked on Schwan’s ice cream and other processed food products.
11. Fried food: Frying food adds calories, so I try to stay away as much as I can. Once in a while I will fry a couple eggs for breakfast or make homemade chicken fingers for dinner — which I had Friday night — and not feel guilty (except for the blue cheese dressing).
12. Extra salt: I try to eat a low-salt diet for the reasons stated above.
The Don’t Eat List is Rule 1 in my set of guidelines. I’m not suggesting people live by this list, as it was designed for me, but it could be helpful to some. And it helps answer the question, “What plan are you following?” Other rules — there are 14 in all — include “no recreational eating,” “no comfort eating,” “drink plenty of water” and “don’t eat after 7 p.m.” I’m looking forward to seeing what foods Reese at Green Goddess will suggest for my “Do Eat List.” She’ll be pairing the suggestions with sample recipes from co-owner Tammy Loewy.
It’s convenient to have a nutrition consultant, a cook with recipes, and a food market all in one spot to help me get on the right track with food.
For now, Reese suggests I start taking probiotics — helpful bacteria — to assist with digestion. Because I’m one of her clients, I get a 15 percent discount on items she suggests, and I get to attend some of their cooking and nutrition classes for free. I?haven’t purchased the probiotics yet, but I?am eating more yogurt. I expect Green Goddess will play an important role in the Lake Placid Diet this year.
For more information about Green Goddess Natural Market, call 518-523-4676 or visit online at greengoddessfoods.com. Next week: Potluck. Not the food. I just don’t know what I’m writing about yet.
Contact Andy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Green Goddess Natural Market co-owner Wynde Kate Reese poses at the establishment’s Scape Cafe. She will soon be helping Andy Flynn with his Do Eat List. (Photo by Andy Flynn)