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How Dieting Works

Cutting Calories

In an effort to reduce the number calories you take in per day, here are several strategies that you might find effective:

  • Be conscious of every calorie you consume, and keep a daily journal. Stick an index card in your pocket each day and write down everything you eat and drink.

  • Eliminate the food myths from your mind, as described later in the article.

  • Eliminate all calories that come in through drinking. In other words, drink water. The problem with drinks -- everything from cola to orange juice to beer -- is that they can bring in lots of calories and they have absolutely no effect on your appetite. For example, if you drink 10 ounces of orange juice (300 ml), you take in 140 calories but it does nothing to curb your appetite. If, on the other hand, you eat an orange, three things happen:

    • You take in fewer calories.
    • You get to chew the orange, which has a psychological effect.
    • It fills your stomach, which curbs your appetite. An orange actually gives you a feeling of fullness, while orange juice does not.

    The same holds true of any beverage that contains calories -- the calories come in but your appetite remains the same.

  • Eliminate white sugar. This eliminates all sorts of high-calorie foods:

    • cookies
    • cake
    • ice cream
    • cola
    • candy
    • candy bars

    By simply refusing all foods that contain lots of sugar, you make it easy to eliminate a big class of snack foods.

  • Similarly, try eliminating all fried foods, including:

    • potato chips
    • cheese crisps
    • french fries
    • onion rings
    • donuts
    • fritters
    • fried chicken

    Fat from deep frying gives these foods lots of calories for their size. Eliminating fried foods and sugar together pretty much eliminates all high-calorie snacks. Entire aisles in the grocery store become irrelevant to you.

  • Try to replace high-density foods with low-density foods. A cookie is a high-density food. It contains lots of sugar and fat, so it is lots of calories in a small package. One or two bites and you've taken in 50 or 100 calories. A banana, on the other hand, is low-density. It takes many bites to eat a banana, but you take in only 100 calories.

    Apples contain few calories for their size.

    Here's a good mental exercise that helps you understand the point: Most people would not find it hard to eat a dozen Oreo-type cookies. Or a dozen SnackWell's cookies. That's 600 calories. Now imagine trying to eat six bananas at one sitting -- you would explode! But it's the same number of calories. Look for low-density foods like bananas that fill you up without giving you that many calories. Foods that are low-density include:

    • Just about any fruit or vegetable in its natural state
    • Many non-sugared breakfast cereals, like shredded wheat
    • Rice cakes
    • Unbuttered popcorn
    • Whole-grain bread, preferably with lots of fiber
    • Brown rice

    Things that are high-density include any food or beverage high in sugar and/or fat. Nuts, most meats, candy, cookies, crackers, potato chips, fried anything, cola, beer, and so on are all high-density and should be avoided.

  • Try wearing form-fitting clothes instead of sweats. The tight clothing acts as a subliminal reminder of what you are trying to accomplish.

If you follow these guidelines and, through diet and exercise, keep the number of calories you consume below the number of calories needed, you will lose fat and maintain a consistent weight.