A while back we decided to get serious about losing weight and eating healthy. Years ago I went to Weight Watchers for a few months and lost 16 lbs but lost interest in counting points. After much research I came up with “our” diet, which is a two part plan based on the Mediterranean Style of eating and eliminating HFCS ( high fructose corn syrup). Within 6 months we both lost 30 lbs without adding any workouts so it was all diet related. I’m not a Doctor or dietitian but so many have asked for this info I decided to put it on two separate pages on our blog (actually I’m tired of repeating it..smiley) in the hope that you may be able to use our blueprint to help figure out what works for you. We are still looking for improvement but feel we’ve made a good start. Kris
I don’t like diets that go to extremes, such as the protein diet soup (was good the first day). I also am too lazy to weigh my food and count points. Weight Watchers is the only program I have ever really witnessed people lose weight on and I think they have a great plan and support network, but my experience years ago was having to count points for my fruit and veggies so I wanted a plan that encouraged lots of these. ( I’ve heard that has changed with them so I’m glad to hear that. We also did lots of low-fat stuff and now I know most of these just have HFCS and that is bothersome, I avoid anything low fat.) I Americanized the Mediterranean diet after looking at some of their recipes….strange fish (heads) and some ingredients that I still can’t pronounce, but here are the basics:
1. GRAINS; WHOLE GRAINS…no more white bread or white rice or regular pasta. Replaced with whole grain pasta, whole grain breads (without HFCS), and brown rice.
2. LESS RED MEAT/MORE FISH: we still enjoy red meat but in much smaller quantities. Our weekly meals include 3 nites of red meat, two nights of chicken, and two nights of fish or one nite fish and one nite a meatless dinner. We love salmon, tilapia, tuna, and shrimp. This was the tough part for Dan, well this and no fast food, he likes red meat.
3. NUTS: almonds and walnuts are now our biggest snack food (and raisins).
4. FRUITS/VEGGIES – unlimited- thank goodness for those grocery store trays of cut up veggies and mixed fruits, extra $ but makes it easier, I transfer to ziplocks for our tiny rv fridge. heyhey this is an rv blog now..Bananas and apples come in a close second. Blueberries are rockstars in the antioxidants dept.
5. OLIVE OIL: not the light stuff, true extra virgin olive oil. Replace unhealthy cooking oils with this (See HFCS page on salad dressings)
6. LESS DAIRY: This was the toughest for me, I love cheese. I have cut this down to twice a wk in small amounts.
Misc Thoughts on our Diet.. I think eggs are healthy for you. Dan has high cholesterol which is under control with medication but we eat about 4 eggs each per week. We do both drinks lots of water. Dark chocolate is the healthiest and I keep a small container of Dove dark chocolate bites for when a chocolate crisis hits me. One of these seems to satisfy me now but in the beginning it took a couple..even our grandkids love them now. Snacks is a tough one but we’ve learned to snack on nuts and fruit and only buy chips for the occasional snack and then limit it to only a handful. Homemade salsas, humus and baked pita chips have replaced the old high fat high calorie snacks( but again, see HFCS page about salsas and pita or it won’t help). Juice – read labels for HFCS, I buy pure OJ and 100% grape juice (which is super healthy for your heart). Peanut butter, healthy in moderation, I like a little on a banana or apple. Butter – I still use real butter, not that fake plastic stuff. I would rather have one roll with real butter than ten with fake butter but that’s a personal choice. Dan uses “I can’t believe it’s not butter” but then he doesn’t eat much of it anyway. Fast food – this was easy for me as I haven’t eaten a McD’s burger or fries in 30 yrs although once in a while i would kill for a sausage and egg mcmuffin. Subway is good but most of their breads have HFCS so we limit them, taco bell makes a small nacho chips with beans, and that’s all I can vouch for. Panera Bread is my occasional splurge for lunch, great salads and killer broccoli cheddar soup (my cheese obsession again) and their breads are homemade so go for it. Real Clover Honey – super healthy for you and I have replaced refined sugar with honey in my tea. Beans – we probably don’t eat enough of these but occasionally I do make a crazy good bean soup (lots of good stuff in it) working on improvement in this area. Someday I’ll do a recipe page with the bean soup and my cucumber/tomato salsa for humus and pita meals.
ALCOHOL: Avoid any mixes with HFCS….In the beginning weight loss journey I only drank wine (2 max) or Welch”s 100% grape juice with a shot of (cheap) vodka. Dan limited his beers. I do drink diet pop but would like to cut back on that due to the aspartame but I do like a bourbon and diet coke, ok, maybe two, lol. (FYI, any comments about that or my lousy bourbon induced karaoke singing will be moderated and never see the light of day, hey it happened once…..).
Again, I am not a doctor, just sharing what works for us for those interested and I don’t believe for a minute I am in anyway a food or diet expert. I’m just sharing our plan. I love to both cook and eat so I am so happy that this works for us and we still enjoy eating BUT I do love talking about that evil HFCS and how to eliminate most of it in your meals. (I’m expecting a cease and desist order from the Iowa Corn Refiners any day).
DINING OUT: After reading the HFCS page you’ll know what foods it is in and can make a more informed dinner choice.
FYI, personal choice here….Vitamins: We both take a multiple vitamin. I also read that vitamin D is important and aids in weight loss so we both take 1000 IU vitamin D. Dan also takes “ester C” and I take an omega 3 fish oil (krill oil is my choice, google to see if it’s for you).
WALK if you can, Mediterranean lifestyle is very heart healthy and they walk way more than most of us do. Their meals are shared with good company and wine and never hurried. They also seem to be less stressed so their model is good for all of us. My favorite book on this is The Miami Mediterranean Diet by Dr, Micheal Ozner and he covers this way more expertly than I could ever hope too. I wasn’t too crazy about his recipes so I just learned to retool my own recipes.
Once in awhile, splurge…I really don’t like cake or pie so my splurge is an occasionally a Reese’s peanut butter cup, a small plate of cheese nachos, or a cup of broccoli cheddar soup. Just keep it reasonable! If you need to bake do it, then give 95% of it away to neighbors and co-workers, they’ll love it.
Pretty simple huh? Ok, now the tough part, NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!!!!! This is the most important part. You can adjust all the above to your style of eating healthy but PLEASE consider eliminating HFCS. Please read the next page on HFCS. Dan was on medication for diabetes and after losing 30lbs and eliminating HFCS his sugar numbers are now in the normal range without medication. Again, a medical disclaimer here, talk to your doctor before starting on any new diet. Actually it may be informative to compare your blood test before and after giving up HFCS.