My old friend Dylan used to swear that the weed he chronically smoked made him into a genius. We were in his room drawing one day while he was high; he turned to me with eyes wide as saucers and said, "You know what? Fat people are fat because they eat too much."
That may seem like a ridiculous statement to you, but it really is pure genius; profound in it's simplicity. He had no idea how right he was.
Weight management depends on the energy balance equation; the amount of energy you put into your body versus the amount of energy you expend, i.e. food calories vs enough activity to burn those calories off. Your body only needs a certain amount of calories to feel satisfied, but the food industry in both the US and the UK has conspired to make us eat loads more than we need. When you go out to a restaurant, the large portions they serve you encourages you to eat a lot more than necessary, and we do it without realizing it. So when we go home, our brains will be tricked into thinking it needs just as much food to feel full the at next meal. It's not just portion size that's sabatoguing you, it's calorie density as well. That means foods with more calories per bite like pasta, red meats, mayonaise, butter, milk and gateau will make you gain more weight with every bite, and it will take longer for your body to digest it.
Foods that are high in water and low in fat, such as fruits, vegetables, soup, lean meat/poultry, and low-fat dairy products will fill you up without consuming too many calories in the process. You can eat more of it, feel satisfied and your body will be able to burn it off quicker. If you're unsure of which foods are which, I've included a handy look-up guide for your convenience.
At this point, I feel obligated to mention that I'm typing this while eating chocolate chip cookies. I've had very little sleep this week, and the sugar fix will keep me from passing out cold at my desk. This is why the phrase, "do as I say, not as I do" was invented. Merciful Gods and loyal readers, forgive my hipocracy.
Anyway... the next step is to find out exactly how many calories your body needs. There's a great website that explains how to figure it out in detail, but I'll give you the cliff's notes. Multiply your current body weight by ten and add your body weight again once for women and twice for men. This is probably how Weight Watchers got the idea for their point method. The only problem with this is that the answer you come up with will only help you maintain your current weight, not help you lose it. Perhaps what should be done is rather than use your actual body weight for the equation, you should use your goal weight. Or maybe do your actual weight first, then your goal weight once you hit your plateau. There are plenty of "free" foods Weight Watchers allows that will help satisfy you between meals and won't use any points you have left.
As for the actual portion size you should be having, I found an amazing website that not just tells you, but SHOWS you in comparison to something else. It's the WebMD Portion Size Webtool and if you're changing your eating habits, it's an absolute necessity for your favorites list. Simply click on the category of food you want to see and then click on the specific food. It also has printable pdf files for your fridge and wallet in case you can't get to a computer. Genius!! They must have been smoking some of Dylan's weed.
Other sites you may be interested in is a list of 1 point snacks and zero point snacks from Weight Watchers. This will help even if you're not on Weight Watchers.
Diet Q & Adietitian Juliette Kellow answers an assortment of diet and nutrition questions and gives her advice for dieting and healthy weight loss.
The Food Network's healthy eating guide, with tons of tasty, low-fat recipes for you to try. And when you're done with that, have some more healthy recipes, courtesy of The Mayo Clinic.
This is a tool I found to help you figure out the rate at which your body burns off calories. It's kinda cool but it depressed the crap out of me. lol
Nutrition Data is an awesome site. It gives you the lowdown on food nutrition, breaks down and analyzes recipes, the nutrition label, and the menu of most fast food joints. It even gives you a glossary of common terms you'll find on food labels.
And finally, I found a guide that lists some great weight loss webtools found on the net that could further help you.
Remember that the key to losing weight is to not think of yourself as simply on a diet. According to Tufts-New England Medical Center, 21% of dieters drop out in the first 2 months, 45% quit by the end of the year, and 90-95% of people who lose weight with diet gain most of the weight back within 3 to 5 years. Think of it more as a complete lifestyle 180. Make it a practice, a habit. It's also important to remember to watch your fat intake more than your caloric intake. If you have extra calories, you can always burn it off. If you restrict your caloric intake too much, your metabolism slows down, even with exercise. That could mean bad news for your weight loss progress. Many foods are alright in moderation. What got me to understand healthy portions better is eating Lean Cuisine meals. They are high in sodium, but the amount of food they give you is the ideal recommended amount. Knowing what a portion this size looks like helps me control how much I eat in every day situations.
Whatever helps, right? I hope you've found some things in this article helpful, and I wish you success in your new fitter, healthier way of life.