Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Ten Secrets of Weight Loss-Fourth and Final Part

I will finish up the last four things I have learned during my weight loss today.

The Ten Secrets of My Weight Loss
1. Knowledge is power-the knowledge to make choices
2. Non-fat sour cream is my friend
3. Non-fat cream cheese is my friend
4. Fiber is filling
5. My palate took about three days to retrain to a low sodium diet
6. My dinner plate is a riot of color compared with what it used to be
7. Almost any recipe can be remodeled to accommodate my diet
8. Exercise accelerates the weight loss and blood pressure lowering process
9. Vinegar wakes up the flavors of food
10. A playful attitude about food and a willingness to experiment have been strong allies

Seven: Almost any recipe can be remodeled to accommodate my diet I enjoy the challenge of starting with my favorite recipes and foods and making changes to them to reduce the calories, fat, and sodium. I avoid using salt substitutes because they are typically very high in potassium and I prefer a natural taste. While there are health benefits to a diet high in potassium, such as, increased bone strength, suggestions that potassium can help with the elimination of excess sodium in the body and positively affect blood pressure, and the findings that some stroke, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma patients have low levels of potassium. In the case of the latter, no direct causal relationship has been found. It’s not too hard to get adequate potassium with a good diet of natural foods, including “meats, fish, vegetables (especially potatoes), fruits (especially avocados, dried apricots, and bananas), citrus juices (such as orange juice), dairy products, and whole grains”. The recommended daily intake for adults is 2000 mg. I prefer to get my potassium from the foods I eat.

For added flavor, I increase my use of herbs and spices and find that I lean more toward cumin and red pepper than I ever did before. The reduction of sodium naturally increases the availability of the more naturally-occurring subtle flavors of ingredients. Non-fat versions of familiar dairy products work just fine for most recipes. I generally find that non-fat sour cream has a better texture and flavor than plain non-fat yogurt although I use both.

It is possible to select meat cuts that are both low in fat and in sodium (see my warning on the hidden sodium in supermarket meats). Boneless skinless chicken breasts, extra lean ground beef (96/4), fat-trimmed sirloin steak, and most fish meet the requirements for my diet. Turkey is also good, but many turkey products have been brined or soaked in salt water, so check the labels. Natural pork can also work but the same warning applies to treating or processing so check the sodium content. Most of the unprocessed meats have naturally occurring levels of sodium between 40 and 75 mg per four ounce serving. In recipes calling for ham, Canadian bacon is lower in calories and sodium if used sparingly and combines well to enhance milder flavored foods.

Bread can be a problem because salt is used to limit the action of the yeast in raised breads. I find that some brands of corn tortillas are low in both fat and sodium and whole wheat pita fits the bill as well. I prefer to make my own whole wheat tortillas or chalupas.

Salsas, especially homemade, are great for picking up the flavor of any meal. Generally the milder the salsa, the less sodium is used. Green salsas tend to be lower as well. I have come up with my own special sauces and find that mustard is full of flavor without salt or calories.

Most fruits are full of flavor and combine well with other ingredients in recipes. I also find that I am using more red bell peppers because they are sweeter and more robust in flavor.

Of course the key to weight loss is portion control. I have retrained myself to consider the generally recommended 4 ounce portions normal.

Eight: Exercise accelerates the weight loss and blood pressure lowering I am not going to belabor the point here because the relationship between weight loss and exercise has been covered much better elsewhere, but it’s true. Even small increases in exercise can be very rewarding. I have a stationary exercise bicycle in my study so I can pedal while I watch the morning news on my off days from the fitness center. I like being able to track my conditioning level by measuring my heart rate on the machines when I work out. It takes much more exertion to reach my target cardio training level (140 for me, age-based) so I get direct feedback on my conditioning level. I also watched my blood pressure drop to within normal levels without medication.

Nine: Vinegar wakes up the flavors of food I like vinegar so it’s pretty easy to include it in my recipes and my diet. There are so many wonderful types and flavors available now, from the full flavor of balsamic to the more subtle white wine vinegars, that experimenting with them is fun. I seem to recall that Adele Davis, the prolific nutritionist of the 1950s and 60s advocated keeping a cruet of apple cider vinegar on the table to splash liberally on greens and other foods. I do. She also suggested adding vinegar to the soup pot to release the calcium from soup bones.

Vinegar is the secret to my low sodium, low fat chili. I also use it in my not-so-sloppy Joes, and in my balsamic chicken.

Ten: A playful attitude about food and a willingness to experiment have been strong allies I enjoy food and experimenting with the ways that food can be prepared. Food is my hobby. I especially like growing it as I always have a large organic garden. I like reading cookbooks and recipes. I seldom create a recipe without consulting several different versions on the Internet or in my cookbook collection and choosing the most interesting ingredients and methods from each. I have also had a few flops, but undeterred I press on. My recommendation is that you move fearlessly into the world of low fat, low calorie, and low sodium cooking, and experiment with a sense of humor and discovery.

Here is my recap from yesterday.

Daily Dietary Recap-4/3//2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1304 60.26 g 223.09 g927.88 mg 13.2 g 9.11%

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