DIY diet with a prenup
Part two in a two-part series on weight management.
Too often, you plunge into a new diet with the fervor of a first love: desperate, excited; the hope and promise of lifelong change; the all-consuming obsession with gluten, fat or sugar. And when the heart cheats – and the heart always cheats – inevitable self-loathing.
I think you should start a new diet like it’s the seventh year of your second marriage: calm, wise, wrinkled but not totally cynical, routine, legally binding – albeit with a prenup.
Because while you wholeheartedly will the relationship to work this time, deep down, you know things will go wrong. But it’s OK. No diet plan is perfect. There are ways to modify a plan until it fits your lifestyle.
Most diet programs, like Atkins, rely on restricting food choice. Limited food choice leads to food boredom leads to limited calories. They work well, but lack the friendly flexibility of the “do-it-yourself” plan which actually allows you to eat what you like.
The key to a successful DIY diet: You need to take the time, painful as it is, to count calories. The biggest reason why people don’t lose weight is that they overestimate how many calories they actually need.
Start with these basic steps.
1. Figure out your daily caloric consumption. You can do it two ways: use an online calorie calculator, or do a food diary for a few days and then calculate your consumption using the USDA Food Composition Database.
2. Subtract 500 calories. This is ambitious. I pick 500 calories because it roughly translates to losing one pound per week (3,500 calorie deficit equals one pound of fat loss). Do what you can.
3. Make a list of your favorite nutrient-dense food. Assign food portions until you reach the desired calorie count. Make sure you meet the requirements for fat (20-30 percent of the total calories) and protein – 60 grams (g) for an average-size woman, 70g for a man.
My daughter and I spent 20 minutes and came up with the following plan.
From an app, I calculated I need 1,980 calories a day. To lose one pound a week, I can consume up to 1,500 calories.
Here’s what I eat regularly: one cup of soy milk, three pieces of tofu, 12 ounces of edamame, and two cups of strawberries or blueberries. This totals 1,060 calories and contains 54g of fiber, 37g of fat and 70g of protein, covering all my basic nutritional requirements.
From there, I can indulge in a variety of “fun foods” up to 400-500 calories a day. For me, it’s eggs sunny-side up, yogurt, ice cream, salted nuts.
You ask, “Do I need to turn into a soy-based life form, like you, to lose weight?”
No, I just want to show you that it’s pretty easy to come up with a healthful diet plan based on what you’re already eating.
Now, sticking to the plan – the pervasive problem facing every dieter and doctor is an Achilles heel with tendonitis. I’d love to hear what you have to say.