Americans are an impatient people, and we don’t like to wait when it comes to losing weight. We want that quick fix – the crash diet, the miracle elixir, the magic pill – that will melt away those pounds lickety banana split.
At some point in our lives, many of us find ourselves locked in mortal hand-to-mouth combat with our weight and the older we get the harder it is for us to win that battle. Our metabolisms just slow down, so no matter how many miles we run, we still need to cut back on the calories.
Here are five tips you might find helpful that have worked well for me over the years.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have never been on a “diet,” because I have three things going for me for which I can take no credit. First, I come from a long line of thin people; second, I do not have a sweet tooth; and third, I never believed that finishing everything on my plate was going to save a starving child in Armenia. When I’m full, I stop eating, no matter what’s left on my plate. Within a few pounds either way, my weight has remained the same since the day I got married.
I hate to exercise; I find it boring and pointless. I do love walking, especially in Paris and New York, but, unlike most French, I am not a good flâneuse (someone who strolls). I walk quickly and I’m usually headed somewhere, so the walk has a purpose.
Over the years I have made little adjustments here and there to my daily diet that have helped me maintain my weight as I age. I offer them up as food for thought.
Drink and Mix Water
I do believe in drinking water. There is a bottle of water on every table in France and chez moi as well; however, I am not a devotee of constantly drinking water all day long. I never cease to marvel at the number of grown men and women walking around sucking on bottles of water every five minutes. Frankly, if I drink too much water during the day, I feel positively waterlogged. And, no, ladies, no matter how much you drink, you cannot pee off the pounds.
Because fruit juices in this country tend to be overly sweet, I mix my cranberry juice in the morning with old fashioned seltzer water. Mixed half and half, it cuts the sweetness and the calories.
My Special Cocktail
The thought of NOT having my favorite apéritif before dinner every night just does not compute. The traditional Kir Royale is a mixture of crème de cassis and champagne – delicious, but high in calories. I save that for the weekends.
During the week, I make a special Kir à la M-T. Instead of the traditional flute, I use a large red wine glass, add some ice, a bit of peach liqueur, a lot of seltzer water and white wine (proportions can be varied to taste) – very refreshing in the summer, but delicious all year round and much easier on the calories. In fact, I’ve been known to have two.
V-8 Does the Trick
If I’m feeling a bit peckish between lunch and dinner, a glass of V-8 Juice cut with a little still water always does the trick. I once tried the low-sodium version and hated it. Like eggs, salt has now been moved from the Naughty to the Nice List. In fact, the latest studies tell us that, unless there is a medical reason to avoid it, seniors need their salt.
Nothing from a Bag
I never eat anything directly out of a bag. I always have a little something with my Kir. Sometimes it will be a handful of chips that go onto a small plate and the bag is closed and put away. If you keep the bag with you, the temptation is there to keep dipping into that bag. Also, I prefer the less oily taste of baked chips, which are lower in fat.
Most of the time, I will have some pistachios with my Kir. One of the great things about pistachios, other than their yummy, satisfying taste, is the fact that you have to shell them before you can eat them. Americans are very lazy about working to get to their food, but the truth is instant gratification often leads to overeating before you’ve even realized it. Just looking at a mound of empty shells on your plate makes it hard to lie to yourself about how much you’ve actually eaten.
And, don’t forget that just because it says “LOW FAT” on the label, doesn’t mean it’s “LOW CALORIE.” In fact, low fat snacks are often higher in calories to make them taste better. You’re better off going for the taste (moderate fat/low cal) in small quantities. You’ll feel more satisfied and will have consumed less calories in the end.
Stick to the Apps
If I go out to dinner during the week, I usually order two appetizers instead of an appetizer and an entrée. American portions have gotten increasingly enormous and, believe it or not, I often find that I’m still taking food home in a doggy bag.
The bottom line is that I’ve found ways to make small, painless adjustments to my eating habits, which over time make a big difference. So can you.