Everywhere we turn, we're bombarded with the latest diet, promising a miraculous cure for our weight woes. Today, low-carb is the trend, while a decade ago, it was low-fat. Millions of dollars are spent on diet pills, programs, books, foods and other products, as well as weight loss surgery.
Gimmicks and fads are expensive crutches that give us false hope that this time, unlike countless times in the past, we just might make it. Remember the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same old thing while expecting a different result. When you think about it, if diets really worked, wouldn't we all be thin by now? But happily, there's a far more sensible path to weight loss that doesn't cost a penny.
What worked for me requires no meetings, no pills, no calorie, carb or fat-gram counting, no forbidden foods, no deprivation. I can eat at home, with friends, or at any restaurant, and I've lost over 100 pounds so far. The solution is, pure and simply, portion control.
We Americans are used to being served obscene amounts of food, and since we don't want to "waste" food, we disrespect our bodies and treat ourselves like human garbage disposals. Then we deprive ourselves out of guilt, until the pizza or some other favorite food calls to us with its siren song, luring us to succumb and overindulge. Then, we start all over again in a vicious circle. But in actuality, pizza is not the problem. Devouring the whole thing is.
If you want to get off this merry-go-round of madness, take a moment to plan your next meal. Prepare your food, not a diet meal, but whatever your heart is really set on. Fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy? Fettuccine Alfredo? Beef stew? The only difference is, serve yourself less than your usual portion. Half is ideal, but 3/4 is a good start too. If you're dining out, order from the kids or senior menu, split an entree with your dining companion, make a meal out of soup or salad and an appetizer, or simply take half of it home. This will save money as well as your waistline!
It's amazing how satisfying a small amount of really good food can be when it's savored and enjoyed without guilt. A truckload of salad with fat-free dressing won't satisfy you if what you really desire is a warm, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie. And when it's what you really want, one cookie can often be enough. I found that favorite foods lose that desperate "forbidden fruit" appeal when I know I can have them anytime.
After a while, I found my stomach shrunk and I had neither the desire nor the ability to eat large quantities any longer. I was completely satisfied on what would have previously been considered an appetizer or a snack.
While in the beginning I focused on portions and not as much on nutrition, as I felt my biggest problem with food was less "what" and more "how much," I found that my tastes changed. Overly sweet things like sodas and some candies and desserts now seemed cloying and unappealing. I also became choosy, avoiding pre-packaged junk cakes, and holding out for the real thing. And quite often, I'd honestly rather just have a piece of fruit.
Of course, if you have a genuine medical condition that requires restricting or eliminating certain foods from your diet, please do so. But on the most part, I believe that God gave us such a wide variety of wonderful, delicious foods because eating is meant to be a pleasure, feeding the soul as well as the body.
The frugal benefits are many. Besides the obvious (buying less food!), you're also not spending money on special foods, products or meeting dues, or having to go to the time, trouble and expense of cooking a separate special diet meal for yourself, as your family eats what you'd rather be enjoying. There are some good books about this weight loss method, such as Thin Within by Judy Halliday, The Fat Fallacy by Will Clower, and French Women Don't Get Fat by Mirielle Guilliano. However, they aren't necessary and can always be checked out from the library or purchased used if you do want to read them.
Portion control is such a pleasurable, simple, healthy and frugal way to eat that one can easily stick with for a lifetime. Give it a try!
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by MyStory@stretcher.com.
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