Let the Eating and Drinking Begin!

Last night was two birthday get-togethers, and today is Fremont Oktoberfest with some friends. (I haven’t been to Oktoberfest in Seattle before, so I’m curious to see if it holds a candle to Cincinnati/Covington or Chicago). It’s getting time for putting on that insulating Winter-weight, and chowing down for the big winter festivals.

It was two years ago that I joined Weight Watchers. I have lost about 80 lbs on WW, and that was lost in my first year. I returned to the plan after 6 months off, and after I took care of medication interference (norethindrone sucks) I’ve been losing. I thought I’d share some of the secrets to my success, both for anyone who reads this, and to remind myself because I still have about 40 or so pounds to go before I’m at goal.

1. Eat bacon, cheese, beer, wine, cocktails, cake and ice cream. Of course, if you don’t eat pork (or are vegetarian/vegan), don’t drink alcohol and/or are diabetic, please read this as don’t deny yourself what you enjoy about food. I’ve heard some people say that they have to totally exclude something from their diet because it’s a binge food, and I can understand that, however, I tend to crave what I’m denied the most. A 3 WW Point desert of Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss Dark Chocolate Bar, which is vegan and sweetened with agave nectar, is a fine way to end a day!

2. Eat real food. Limit eating foods that are fortified with extra vitamins, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners. If it’s a low-fat or no-fat version of a high-fat food, odds are they’ve added junk to make it taste more like the real thing. Same goes with sugary drinks and snacks. I prefer to just eat the real thing, in small amounts, for instance, giving up sugar in things where I don’t need it (morning coffee) in preference where I know I’ll like it (a Babycake from Cupcake Royale.) Instead of going for an energy bar that’s PB&J flavored, just make yourself a nice PB&J sandwich on whole wheat. Shoot for eating foods with five ingredients or less. This leads me to my next point, which is…

3.Learn to cook/assemble your own food. This is the one way you’ll know what’s in your food, and control for those sneaky cooks in restaurants who add extra butter to EVERYTHING. It may seem like a lot of time and effort, at first, but really – it doesn’t take much longer than a boxed meal to assemble some basics, and if you cook ahead of time, make use of left-overs, there’s a lot you can do. Never underestimate the awesomeness that comes from homemade salad dressing (all you need is sugar/agave/honey, salt, herbs/spices, a bit of olive oil and vinegar or lemon/lime juice and a jar to shake it in.) Throw a can of line-caught Pacific albacore tuna on top of some local greens, with some olives, cherry tomatoes and red onion slices, and you have a 4 WW Point (each serving) dinner for two! Check out my aStore for cook books.

4. Do not let the Nutritional Information and/or health promises on packages make your decisions for you. This rule transfers to things outside of food, so use it often. Some of the healthiest foods you’ll ever eat won’t have either Nutritional Information or health promises on them: broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, orange – basically, the entire produce section. These days, manufacturers are adding what used to be just in nutritional supplements to their foods as well as accenting the long established ingredients with labeling that ties the main ingredient to a vogue health claim (lycopene in ketchup, for instance.) The healthiest foods are likely to not come in slick packaging with health claims on it.

5. Limit soy and corn. This is more of an extra credit thing. You see, I already try to shop local, eat local, shake the hand that feeds me, etc. It’s insane just how much soy and corn is in the American diet. Corn is pretty much everywhere, from high fructose corn syrup and corn starch to xanthan gum. It’s fed to cows to fatten them up, in ketchup, in soft drinks. It’s cheap, heavily subsidized, and in everything. Soy is pretty much everywhere, too. It’s a condiment, fake meat, fake cheese, low-carb pasta, milk substitute, frying oil, the list goes on and on. You could actually eat soy in every part of your meal and not realize you’re eating mostly soy. Soy also contains phyto-estrogens and can play a part in endocrine disruption (a favorite article is in Men’s Health.) It’s also used in animal feed along with corn. Every time Soy Joy reps are handing out free bars at the farmer’s market, I think as I walk by with Jon, “Why do you want to emasculate my husband?”

Corn and soy are largely Big Agriculture. It’s lots of subsidies, lots of pesticides, lots of monoculture, and a lot of genetic modification. Also, it’s not healthy to just eat one thing, or things derived from one thing, all the time. Diversity in your food is good. This is why I try to be deliberate about my corn and soy ingestion.

So those are the top fives for what I’ve been doing. Just a few hours from now, I embark on Fremont Oktoberfest 2009. I’m glad I got my jog in earlier today!