Is Your Weight A Problem?

Good health is important for good mental health, and a reasonable weight is important to good health. Let's face it-- excess weight can interfere with a normal life in a lot of ways, ranging from medical problems to employment, and of course, there are cosmetic considerations. And a solution seems easier said than done. Starving one's self is unpleasant, and if we try, we often fail. So are we caught in an inescapable trap?

Actually, no. A solution might require a little discipline, but not necessarily a Herculean effort. Here are a few tips.

Firstly, cut out meat. If that's too hard, then cut way back on meat. You need less meat than the advertisers would have you think. In fact, an adult needs as much protein in a day as can be found in a single hamburger patty. If you must eat "some" (not a lot of) meat, don't eat anything with more than two legs. Fish and chicken, not fried, are preferable. Turkey bacon is a fair substitute for pork bacon.

You can get high-quality protein by eating any legume and any grain on the same day. The amino acids in the legume combine with those in the grain to form a high-quality protein. A legume is a bean, pea, lentil or peanut. So a peanut butter sandwich, a bean burrito, beans and rice, cornbread and beans or a lot of combinations will satisfy that formula.

Not only is that lower in calories than meat, but it is healthier than 4-legged meat (such as beef or pork) and it costs a lot less. The tastiness is just a matter of the cook's imagination and creativity.

The thing that makes a difference in the calories of vegetables is what we put on them. Don't add butter or bacon grease to flavor them. There are many ways to flavor veggies that don't add calories.

One low-calorie way to flavor things, which also provides protein, starts with a carton of fat-free cottage cheese. You can run it through a blender until it is creamy, and then blend it a while longer, until it is silky and shiny. At that point it is like soft cream cheese or sour cream, but without the fat. It goes great over veggies, and especially on potatoes.

It can be flavored with onion powder or garlic powder, Parmesan, or whatever spices you like. It is good mixed with picante sauce, which can be eaten on a lot of things, including toast. The cottage-cheese whip can also be mixed with Kool-Aid and a sweetener, which is good on toast or a bagel. I am partial to Stevia, which to me tastes more like real sugar than the other sweeteners. It costs a little more, but since you don't use much at a time, it doesn't cost much over a day.

Vegetables and fruits are generally low in calories. So long as you don't drench them in a high-calorie sauce, like butter or bacon grease sugar or syrup, you can eat all you want, cooked or raw. Bananas can be a problem if you "pig out" on them, but one or two are no obstacle. Avocados can be a problem if you eat a lot, but one is no problem.

If you make a salad, you can either buy fat-free salad dressing, or buy powdered salad dressing and instead of mixing it with oil, mix it with buttermilk. You can also buy fat-free mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, and margarine. You can buy sugar-free apple sauce, and add stevia and eat it without concern for excess calories.

Beware of canned fruits. They contain added sugar. And watch out for orange juice. Drinking a 12-oz glass of orange juice is like eating 10 oranges, with all the sugar they contain. If you just eat an orange, you're not going to get too much. Canned tomato juice or V-8 juice are no problem.

Your next problem is going to be social gatherings. One tactic might be to show up late, after everyone has eaten, and another might be to eat at home before you go, so you will be full, and less temptable when you are around all that "forbidden" food.

Consider also that research has shown that people who drink at least 40 oz. of water a day are 30% less likely to have a heart attack. A coffee mug holds 9 oz, and an average drinking glass (such as a jelly glass) holds 12 oz. About 4 of either will get you in the ball park.

I suspect that most people would find drinking a lot of plain water to be a chore. Rather than drink something you might tire of, I suggest you drink something you like. Today I have had coffee, tea, and buttermilk. There wouldn't have been any sugar if I hadn't added some powdered chocolate to the coffee. I know there are purists who insist it makes a difference if it is not clear water, but in my view, once the water is in your blood stream, it doesn't know where it came from.

Last and foremost, don't make eating a miserable experience. You are more likely to stay on a diet if it is fun. Find ways to make your veggies taste good, so you can enjoy them, and you will stay with your program for the long haul.