An Excerpt from the 400 Calorie Fix
Meet a woman who lost 6 pounds in 2 days following the 400 Calorie Fix, and read an excerpt from the book below!
Eat Anything, Anywhere!
400 Calorie Fix
Excerpted from the soon-to-be released book by New York Times best-selling author and Prevention Editor-in-Chief Liz Vaccariello with Mindy Hermann, RD.
It seemed to defy logic. In my late 30s I was exercising a dozen hours a week, eating healthfully, and coming off a 7-year stint as a senior-level editor at a popular fitness magazine. I was intimately familiar with the major tenets of exercise, nutrition, and weight loss. After all, we informed and inspired millions of women every month, and I proudly lived the advice I doled out. I was strong, fit, full of energy. And yet I was also 10 pounds heavier than I wanted to be. The more I exercised, the hungrier I was. And, because I exercised so much, I usually ate whatever food I wanted, in whatever amount satisfied me. I mostly ate healthy foods—fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, lots of skim milk—so I didn’t think to watch my portions too carefully. The trouble was, my laissez-faire attitude about the food—the calories—I was putting into my mouth meant I was gradually, stealthily gaining a pound or two a year. It wasn’t anything to worry about, but the rising numbers on the scale were enough to make me look up one day and realize what an impact a little inattention to calories can have. It was my job to understand how to achieve a healthy weight, and yet the pounds crept up on even me! I could easily imagine the frustration of people whose lives didn’t revolve around health.
Then I came upon this statistic: In 2007, the average American consumed close to 2,800 calories per day. In 1970, it was 2,200 calories per day. That 600-calorie difference might not seem like a lot, but eating an extra 500 calories a day can translate into 1 pound of extra fat per week! Most of us don’t gain a pound a week (52 pounds in a year is pretty extreme) but putting on an extra 2 or 5 or 10 is pretty common. And it’s why so many of us look up one day and think, “Where did this weight come from?”
The Story of Calorie Creep
Why, exactly, are we eating more calories than our bodies need? The good news is: It’s not our fault. For starters, portions have grown . . . and grown and grown. They are bigger everywhere, as pointed out by Brian Wansink, PhD, Cornell University professor and researcher, whose revealing work shows that when packages, plates, and portions are larger, we eat more. It’s bad news, then, that our plates and bowls have gotten about 36 percent bigger since 1960 and many beer and wine glasses have swelled to accommodate more than a single serving. (A “portion,” by the way, is the amount of food that you serve yourself, while a “serving” is the measured amount recommended on the label or by the government, containing a specific number of calories. Confused? You’re not alone. Only about half of us knows the difference between the two.) Whereas the tall, skinny highball and champagne glasses of the past held a more reasonable 6- to 8-ounce serving (and deceived our eyes into thinking we were getting more than we were), today’s oversize glasses hold 10 to 16 ounces or more! Even nutrition experts, who should know better, serve themselves bigger portions—and eat more—when they have bigger bowls, bigger serving spoons, and bigger packages, according to a recent study.
Making your own meals is usually healthier than eating takeout, but even your cookbook may not be as slimming as you think. Classic cookbooks like the Joy of Cooking have upsized: A recent study found a 42 percent increase in recipe portion size and a 170-calorie increase per serving since 1931.
Wait. There’s more. Like so many Americans, I was raised by clean-your-plate parents who applauded the finished dinner and scorned the untouched serving. And like many of us, I’ve been finishing everything that was in front of me ever since, thanks to this sense of duty, my own frugal-minded distaste of waste, or sometimes even boredom or mindless eating. What I didn’t realize was that all that extra food shouldn’t have been there in the first place. It shouldn’t have been there at my first apartment, where I piled pasta onto my oversize Pottery Barn plates, whose massive circumference tricked my eye into serving way more than I needed. Nor should it have been there at my favorite restaurants. Restaurant portions are nearly double (or triple) what they used to be, with some meals clocking in at upward of 1,500 calories, close to what most people need for an entire day.
Finally—and here’s the real rub—it doesn’t help that so few of us know how many calories we need, let alone are putting into our mouths. A survey found that almost 90 percent of adults have no clue how many calories they should eat on any given day. And in New York City, where chain restaurants have recently been required to post calorie counts on their menus, one study conducted in 2007 showed that only 4 percent even noticed the information. People buying fast food purchased meals that averaged over 800 calories, with about one-third of those being over 1,000 calories.
Like millions of us, I was being swept along by a stealth calorie creep.
The Happy, Healthy Solution
Food may have been the problem, but as someone with a deep appreciation for the power of food to heal, fuel, and energize, I know that food can also be the solution. And, as the editor-in-chief of Prevention magazine and a co-author of the blockbuster Flat Belly Diet!, I see a clear, simple, back-to-basics trend emerging: Managing weight comes down to calories.
I talk to nutritionists and researchers about the many diet trends that have come and gone over the past 20 years. We started with the low-fat diets of the 1980s and ’90s, which were inspired by research showing that people whose diets are filled with low-fat foods have less body fat. Turns out, those diets work only as long as they mainly include foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats; they don’t work well at all when people load up on fat-free cookies and snacks. Why? Because they contain too many calories.
The pendulum then swung in the opposite direction. Low-carb (in some cases, high fat) took its place as the diet du jour, and remains popular today. The basic premise is that you eliminate foods such as bread and pasta from your diet in exchange for large, and sometimes unlimited, portions of meat, eggs, and high-fat indulgences like bacon and whipped cream. Although pounds melt away at first, weight loss eventually slows. Worst of all, once you start eating simple carbs again, weight finds its way back quickly. Why? Because your calorie count shoots up.
Then there’s what I call the no-brainer diet: prepackaged low-calorie meals and shakes, and even meals that are delivered to your doorstep every morning to take the guesswork out of dieting—no cooking, no shopping, no planning. But they’re not long-term solutions. Why? Because they don’t teach you what you need to know about calories!
Start learning about the 400 Calorie Fix today! Sign up for the 400 Calorie Fix Newsletter with delicious food and great 400 Calorie weight loss tips!
The 400 Calorie Lens
In 400 Calorie Fix, I’m going to show you how to start retraining your mind to see food the 400-calorie way, especially when you find yourself in places with limited choices. Don’t be intimidated by the lessons and information we present. It’s still possible (and simple!) to eat the 400-calorie way just by picking and choosing from our 400-plus meals and combos throughout the book. But to heed the tips and tricks that follow it will change your outlook (and diet).
Order your copy here! Book ships January 4, 2010.
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