Ask Dani – Diet Dilemma (South Beach Diet)

This is an old-time diet. They thought that would work too.

Dear Dani,

I’ve been thinking about doing the South Beach Diet, but I’m not sure. There’s so much information on diets and I don’t know how to figure out what would be the best one for me. What diet do you recommend and how would you choose which one to go on?

Thanks, Dieting Dilemma

Dear Dieting Dilemma,

Dieting is such a dirty word. When I think of a diet I think of agonizing weeks of being hungry and wishing I could eat everything else, but what I’m allowed to eat. I can’t stop thinking about food and my whole day revolves around thinking about what I’m going to eat at the next meal. Most of the time I’m also counting how many days until it’s over, which means that all the hard work I’ve done over the past few weeks will be completely undone by a mega binge on some Coldstone Creamery, as soon as I can get my hungry little paws on it. So, as you can see I don’t like diets. They are only short-term solutions to long-term issues. It’s like putting a band-aid over a gun shot wound.

What you need is to learn how to maintain healthy eating for a lifetime, which doesn’t include cutting out whole food groups or restricting your calories so much that you’re constantly hungry. You can’t keep up that kind of thing for long and it will only backfire and make your problem worse. All of that being said, I don’t condemn the South Beach Diet. I think that it does a good job at teaching you balance, but that’s only true if you really follow their guidelines and treat it as a learning process and not a quick fix. The fact that they focus on whole-grains and fiber is a good sign, because so many bad diets will cut carbs out completely or tell you to restrict way more than you need to. Normally I would say that the fact that they cut out fruit for the first 2 weeks is bad, but I can understand them doing it in order to regulate your blood sugar levels and to kind give you a reset button. My advice though is that if you want some fruit in those first 2 weeks then have the fruit. But, if you want to really maintain your weight loss you need to do some homework, which may include keeping a food diary to track your patterns, keeping a journal to track your emotions, relearning your hunger cues and patterns, and trying to get past emotional triggers. A good diet will never dip below 1200 calories per day and will have a balanced mix of all the major food groups. Every meal should consist of a carb and a protein (so that means grapefruit diets and cabbage soup diets are a major no-no), and will never cut out fats entirely (you actually need good fats in order to lose weight, as well as for healthy akin and hair). You should never feel deprived and the emphasis should be on teaching you how to make better food choices and portion control.

If you have any questions on some of the things I mentioned, such as relearning your hunger cues or getting past emotional triggers, please don’t hesitate to ask me for help!

**Have a question that needs answering? Send em in! Every Thursday I ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

Keep The Hungry Monster Away

According to sleep specialist Michael Breus, PhD, not getting enough zzz’s messes up the mechanism that tells your body it’s full. This hormone is called leptin and without enough sleep it gets all out of whack. Even worse is that it increases a hormone called ghrelin which tells your body to eat. Over time this can really pack on the pounds, not to mention it can really make you feel stressed too. He says that by getting your sleep back on track you might experience weight loss. He says that he’s seen patients lose 3-15 pounds just by getting 7.5 hours of sleep per night. Now, I’m not saying that if you tuck yourself in every night at 11 and wake up at 7 you’ll lose weight. But, it will keep the hungry monster away, which will surely help.

I’ll post sleeping tips tomorrow to help you get to bed and stay there.

Avoiding Diet Pitfalls

We’ve all been there. The 4pm slump that hits you, making you feel tired, irritable, and insatiably hungry for cookies, sweets, and anything you can get your hands on. Most of the time you’re eating these yummy treats without even realizing it and before you know it you’ve packed 5 mini cupcakes into your mouth and added 650 (I’m being forgiving when I use that number) calories to your rear end. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now, not so much, right?

The next time you find yourself in a battle with yummy gooeyness think about this first:

“Why Am I Doing This?”

Ask yourself, “Am I rewarding myself for something? Perhaps you got reamed out by your boss, or your credit card bill was astronomical this month, or you had a fight with your husband before leaving for work this morning. If so, find another way to reward yourself when you leave for the day. Make sure that it’s something special (and not food related) that you will get ONLY if you avoid giving into your temptation.

Are You Eating Out Of Boredom?

If so, make an attitude change. Take a break if you can and get outside for some fresh air. If you can’t though, maybe try calling a friend and telling her how bored you are. Talking it out can really help you resist the urge to give into your weakness. Recognizing that you’re bored and not really hungry will give you the push you need to fight that little sucker off.

Are You Really Hungry?

That’s fair, it’s 4pm after all. It’s been 3-4 hours since lunch and will most likely be at least another 3 until dinner, so eat something, but make it healthy. Combining a carb and a protein will help make it more filling and will satisfy you longer, so try something like a cup of grapes and a low-fat string cheese, or an apple and some yogurt, or a 190 calorie chocolate peanut Kashi Bar (yum! Those are my favorite!). Just make sure that it’s a snack and you’re not doubling up. Keep it at 200 calories or less and you’ll be good to go.

Plan Better

If this happens to you often then you need to plan ahead. The day will spontaneously throw a million things your way, which can be very stressful. It’s during stressful times that we often eat the wrong foods and eat impulsively. So, come up with a plan to tackle the stress and prepare for the inevitable curve ball. Recognize that you eat when you’re stressing and make sure to keep healthy snacks that you enjoy on hand. Don’t wait until your hungry or stressed to make these decisions, because most likely it will be the wrong choice.

It’s Like The Peloponnesian War

If you do find yourself eating the cupcakes don’t beat yourself up about it. Dr. Wayne Dyer once said that guilt is like the Peloponnesian War – it’s in the past, so stop dwelling on it. I love that! What’s done is done, so feeling guilty or upset at yourself for what you ate is pointless. The only purpose that serves is to make you feel bad, but does it change anything? No! The only thing you can do is resolve to plan ahead for next time and ask yourself, “why am I doing this? Am I really hungry? Am I bored?”.

UPDATE ON MY NIGHTTIME SNACKING 40 DAY CHALLENGE: My challenge to myself was to limit my night-time snacking to 100 calories or less for 40 days. I’ve tried to kick this habit for a long time with bouts of success, but nothing really long-lasting. I’m happy to say that I’m on day 10 and going strong. I will admit though that I am human and slipped up last night. Not terribly, but still it was an urge I couldn’t resist. See, my husband, Roman asked me to make him a sinful snack – a peanut butter, Nutella, banana, and honey sandwich. I know, the best thing you’ve ever heard, right! I had already had dinner and my 100 calorie Skinny Cow ice cream bar and I wasn’t even really that hungry, but my taste buds were tingling just at the sound of those words coming out of his mouth. So, I confess, I had a 1/4 of the banana with some peanut butter, I licked the Nutella yumminess off the knife, and then had a 3-4 bites of his sandwich.

I felt guilty for a bit, but then decided to forgive myself before I went to sleep, per my advice that I gave all of you yesterday on getting back on the horse. After all, I’m committed to this goal and indulging once in a while is ok. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to continue to work on it, it just means that I’m human and need to indulge once in a while.

A Little Monster Named Hunger

Are you having trouble sticking to your goals? I was just watching a Weight Watcher’s commercial and they have a little stuffed monster named Hunger. I love this! This little guy lurks everywhere and sneaks up on you sometimes when you least expect it – in your office drawer, in your glove compartment, in your fridge and cabinets, in your purse, in your locker…

I talked last week about changing your routines and moving things around in the kitchen. You can take this one step further by putting little reminders that will help motivate and keep you on track in the places where hunger lurks the most. Place pictures of you at a better time in your life in the places where you stash your goodies. Or, find the worst picture that you can find of yourself if you think that will work better. I’m sure many of you have a picture like that where you look at it and think ,”what happened? How did I let myself get here?” I know I’ve definitely had a few of those in the past that made me so mad. My face wasn’t just rounder, but my arms were actually puffy from all the weight fluctuations over the years and my nose even looked a bit wider.

You can also place little reminder notes in these places that’ll inspire you to walk away. Write down why you don’t really want those empty calorie snacks, why you want to look and feel better, what it will mean to you when you reach your goal, how much you hate feeling this way, and how you will only regret eating it later.

It’s so much easier to put on the weight than it is to take it off, so you have to do everything possible to keep yourself from making excuses. There are NO excuses.