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Thoughtful Research

Challenges of a Low Fat Diet

I lost the 25 pounds in 2013 that I'd been trying to lose for the last ten or more years.  It amazed me how a simple change of diet made the weight just fall right off.


Simple?  Well, maybe that's not quite right.  I don't advise people to develop gall bladder trouble before they begin a do-or-die diet.  But these changes were what I needed, so maybe they'll work for you.  It will take a lot of determination, however.  For me, it was a matter of just wanting to feel better without surgery (like the kind that killed Dan Blocker).


I got the diagnosis shortly before leaving on a trip to New Mexico; to remain well enough to travel by car alone, I was given some tips. I was worried, well, what can I eat at a motel food counter?  By the time I got home, I'd lost the first ten pounds, and that was enough to keep me on this diet for life.


The last time I was able to lose like this was in 2005, when I worked for two months at Carlsbad Caverns. I got in the best shape of my life, but you know, I couldn't recreate that lifestyle anywhere else (except a little now at Kwik Trip, maybe).


Here's what I did:


1.  Read packages of all items.  Know the fat content of everything you eat.  Avoid high fat content, and especially high saturated and trans fats.  The doctor advised no more than 20 gm of fat per meal, and less than 10 gram per item.  I figured the lower it was the better because I couldn't in any way figure out grams.


2. You still need to have good fat in your diet. So there are good fats that you can eat, such as nuts.  Again, read the package to make sure the trans and saturated fats are low to nonexistent. You can also look at cholesterol levels, because that counts, too. I found when I traveled that beef jerky was really low in fat, as were crackers and chips. I have can small portions of cream cheese, like the motels have, but best to have low-fat cream cheese, cheese and yogurt. Dairy-free is even better, if you can handle that.


3. Watch the portions. Chips are a particular downfall. The package will say how much is in a single serving. Eat that, and nothing more.  And no more. Put the right portion on your plate, and don't have seconds. Leave the table still feeling hungry. Portions – that's crucial in this diet.  I discovered I was eating too much at every meal as well.  Fill up on water with the meal.


4. It doesn't hurt me, though, before bed, to have a few of those low fat crackers, if hungry, to help me sleep.  But now that I've lost the weight, I don't feel hungry as often.


5. While on the road I discovered few restaurants where I trusted the food served.  So I ate at Subways and have Wendy's salads a lot.  I was not afraid to study a menu, ask a few questions, and get up and leave.  I ate a lot of turkey and vegetables, dry bread, and baked potatoes with only salt and pepper.  If I don't know what else to eat when I dine out, I order salad.  I ask for half portions.  I take half home, if I'm not on the road. Yes, eating out remains a challenge, and I pay for it when those ill feelings return.


6. Eat more vegetables.  There's great veggie selections at Trader Joe, if you have one near you. Add things like nuts and cranberries.  And I already loved Vinaigrette dressings, which are the only ones that fit this diet.  


7. Change the way you cook. Yes, a Mediterranean diet IS better, so check it out.  We got rid of shortening and all oils except Canola.  Use olive oil on everything except breakfast foods. Canola oil in your deep fryer, but don't overindulge; a few fries is okay.


8. Apples.  Every day.  Have an apple before dinner to cut back on hunger. Have one between meals.


9. Drink more water.


Yes, it meant giving up a lot of things I used to love. Pecan pie. Banana splits. Most desserts, actually. I do buy a few sugar free cookies because I also once received too high a sugar count in my blood. Where did that come from? I don't eat candy bars at all anymore, and never touch soda, which I gave up long ago.  Cutting back on sugar is always a good idea, whether on a diet or not.  


And there are always favorites you won't have to give up.  I can still have my nuts and peanut butter, wine and Cheetos.  But always, everything, in moderation.  That's key.


So happy dieting!  And don't forget to exercise.

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