Are You Still Dieting? Stop now! (Part 2)

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25 Apr 2018

In part one of this article we examined why, in spite of their overwhelming popularity, diets are failures. We established that adherence is the most important component of a food program for success along with avoidance of all or nothing thinking.  The article also stated that small, gradual changes are best for changing poor habits and creating new and healthy behaviors. The bottom line in weight loss is still creating a calorie deficit, but in a way we can stick to.   In part 2, we will now examine many ways to create a situation where more calories are being used as energy than are being consumed. In addition, a few tips for better adherence to your program will be suggested. 

Dr. Kravitz has come up with 50 different concrete suggestions for cutting calories without dieting.  Look over this list carefully and as we are emphasizing small changes, pick 2 or 3 things that you think you can accomplish and start with those.  As you feel more and more comfortable with each change, you can pick a couple more to work on.  Remember, in the end of the day, this will translate into lower weight and better health.  Right now, work on your habits It might take a few weeks until you see the desired result, but you will!

Control Over Tempting Sensation Habits

1. Control triggers. For some people, certain foods trigger overeating. Be aware of these foods and find ways to avoid them by substituting satisfying, non-triggering foods.

2. Plan for simchas. Before attending social events, dinner parties or catered occasions where there will be rich, high-calorie foods, eat a light protein-based snack (i.e., bean salad or yogurt).

3. Find a balance with favorite foods. It’s common to overindulge on favorite foods. Identify yours and commit to enjoying them occasionally, but don’t overindulge.

4. Be aware of breakfast starch overload. Many people treat themselves to a special bagel for breakfast, along with cream cheese, coffee and juice. Since a bagel today is equivalent to about five slices of bread, try a breakfast of egg whites, fruit and a quarter bagel instead.

5. Combat protein overload at dinner. Restaurants regularly entice customers with irresistible steak, fish and chicken specials. Split a meal with a friend to cut the colossal protein calorie overload. Perhaps start the meal with a low-fat salad, and eat plenty of vegetables.

Simple Substitutions

6. Switch from a 3-ounce serving of meat to the equivalent of a meat alternative, such as lentils.

7. Switch from a serving of bread to a serving of rice cakes (about five rice cakes).

8. Switch from a 6-ounce glass of orange juice to a cup of cantaloupe.

9. Switch from a 1.5-ounce serving of cheese to an 8-ounce yogurt.

10. Switch from a half-cup of dried fruit to a cup of berries.

Wise Choices

11. Choose olive oil–based dressings instead of the creamy types.

12. Choose the grilled fish or chicken over fried options.

13. Choose whole grains instead of white bread.

14. Order mixed berries for dessert rather than a slice of cheesecake, or ask for just a small serving.

15. Choose mustard over mayonnaise on sandwiches.

Surviving the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet or cocktail hour at a Simcha

16. Choose only the foods you really enjoy.

17. Fill up on veggies, fruits and salads, and put the dressing on the side.

18. Skip foods with a lot of sauce.

19. Commit in advance to eating just one decent-sized plate, and avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes.

20. Eat slowly, savoring each bite as you (hopefully) engage in conversation with a friend or companion. Enjoy your meal with water or seltzer rather than soft drinks.

Clever Calorie-Cutting Ideas for Home Dining

21. When preparing and cooking multiple meals, freeze what you’re not immediately eating in single-serving containers. Bake casseroles in individual-size dishes.

22. To minimize overeating, serve the main dish on a salad or bread plate. Don’t leave food sitting on the counter.

23. Do not eat anything out of a bag or container. Place the food on a plate or in a bowl so you see precisely how much you’re eating.

24. Follow the “rule of one”: Have only one helping of each food group. The exception to this is vegetables.

25. Look out for added sugars (and their extra calories) in many packaged foods, including prepared meals (take out), salad dressings, breads and pasta sauce. Buy unsweetened oatmeal, cereal and yogurt, and sweeten them yourself with a tad of sugar or honey.

Smart Swaps

26. Make special requests when you go out to eat. For instance, swap out fries for vegetables or, ask for less cheese on pizza, pasta, or anything parmesan.

27. Break the mayonnaise habit. Just one tablespoon of mayonnaise can have over 50 calories (depending on the brand).

28. Spice your tea or coffee with cinnamon, which helps stabilize blood sugar and is a good source of vitamin K and iron.

29. Choose the miniature versions of desserts.

30. Order appetizers as your meal.

31. Avoid the oversized food and drink portions that most restaurants serve; stick to regular-sized portions or try the kiddie size if there is one.

32. Smart-swap tomato-based sauces for creamy ones.

33. Choose thin pizza crust instead of deep-dish.

34. Avoid large alcoholic drinks, which add as much as 400 calories to a meal.

35. De-fat your café latte. A medium 18-ounce latte made with whole milk has 265 calories. A small 12-ounce latte made with fat-free milk has 125 calories.

Guiltless Fast Food

36. Pay attention to your personal hunger meter. Stop eating when you feel comfortable, not full.

37. Order small sizes of all food options and enjoy the meal with a seltzer, sparkling water, iced green tea, or water with lemon. Sweet drinks—a go-to with fast-food meals—are a major source of added sugars. There is emerging evidence that some sugar substitutes may upset metabolic processes, possibly leading to weight gain.

38. Stay away from anything that says “double” or “triple.”

39. Steer clear of any meals that say “supersize,” “mega,” “biggie” or “jumbo.”

40. Be aware that some no-fat and low-fat meals have a lot of calories.

Winning Ways to Live

41. Do not keep sugary drinks in the house.

42. Choose a low-calorie meal starter, such as salad or soup, to help prevent overeating later in the meal.

43. Order salad dressings on the side. Often even healthy, “low-calorie” salad dressings can be deceptively high in calories owing to the amount used.

44. Beware of the breadbasket. The bread-and-butter habit can add hundreds of calories to your meal. In fact, one slice of white bread with butter is 116 calories—and the bread may make you hungrier. The refined carbohydrate in it may trigger insulin production, which increases hunger. Send the breadbasket back, or ask your server not to bring bread to the table in the first place.

45. Be judicious with the chips and dips (Challah and dips on Shabbos). Practice moderation.

46. Prune your meal. Literally trim the meal you have chosen to eat. For example, if you’re eating a burger, take off the bun to save around 160 calories.

47. Be mindful of your alcohol consumption. There’s nothing wrong with appreciating an occasional L’chaim drink, but be aware of the calories you’re consuming.

48. Eat more whole fruits, which contain lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Juicing depletes the fruit of many of this essential nutrition.

49. Eat a little lean protein at most meals. This goes a long way toward making you feel satisfied.

50. Final reminder: If you truly want to lose weight and prevent weight regain, find sustainable ways to cut back on calories. In addition, keep progressing your cardiovascular and resistance training workouts.


The best tried and tested method to adhere to any new habit or behavior is tracking your action through writing it down.  Anyone who records their actions for any area of behavioral change, not only eating and exercise, is creating accountability and mindfulness.  Gaining awareness is really the name of the game when it comes to behavioral change.  Many of our habits are so automatic that we aren’t even cognizant of the fact we are doing them.  In our office, we offer two different types of charting for both food and drink, and exercise record keeping.  It is estimated that logging your food will bring you twice as much weight loss as not charting!    It can be the paper and the pen, or an application or online tool, but it is a must!

The other great tool for keeping you on track is weighing yourself.  And the research is indicating more and more that a daily weigh-in is best.  Yes, our weight fluctuated and the scale will bounce up and down but you would be looking for an overall downward trend.  So, track this as well and write it down.  When you notice a change that is unfavorable, it will grab your attention and you will act on it.  Maybe last Shabbos was just a little too much food, or the fact that you didn’t do exercise for three days in a row does matter. 

We know for sure that diets really don’t work.  Dieting is even a risk factor for becoming eating disordered.  But getting a reasonable and balance food program, working on mindfulness and awareness to bring adherence and always looking to improve our habits will bring weight loss and good health.  By implementing the above mentioned changes, a few at a time, instead of dieting, you will add hours to your days, days to your years, and years to your life.” 

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.