Jewish World Review April 21, 2003 / 19 Nisan, 5763

SLIM CHANCES: Do you diet like a tortoise or a hare?

By Bev Bennett | We all know what happened in the fabled race between the rabbit and the hare: The slow and plodding tortoise made it to the end, while the hare, sure of his victory, stopped to rest and lost all his gains.

Embracing the "tortoise approach'' may make you a successful dieter, as well. Slow and steady, as the tortoise advises, has benefits when you're trying to lose weight.

Crash dieting, in which you starve on 1,000 calories a day, won't bring permanent and healthful weight changes. You shed the pounds quickly, but you eventually develop a "rebound appetite'' for all the foods you crave.

A slow weight loss won't bring instant "wows!'' from your office mates, but you won't have the hunger pangs and food obsessions that sabotage your intentions. By eating just 100, 150 or 250 fewer calories a day, you'll eventually lose weight and keep it off. "You can lose weight without depriving yourself,'' says registered dietitian Heidi Reichenberger, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Just cutting out one doughnut a day makes a difference.''

Reichenberger asks her clients to keep a diary of what they eat. Reviewing the entries, she looks for foods that can be easily eliminated. Her clients add just 15-30 minutes of exercise a day and remove one high-fat, high-calorie food from their meals.

Your ability to lose weight depends on a variety of factors, such as your exercise regimen, your percent of body fat and your age, of course, but trimming a few calories here and there certainly helps.

Consider the doughnut example: If you eat a pastry every morning, you're getting about 270 calories. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with a slice of whole-wheat bread and a half-tablespoon of jam -- for 95 calories. In 20 days, you'll lose a pound. Make that one change, and you may be able to lose 15 pounds or more in a year.

If you've been struggling for years to lose 10 pounds, make one simple change, instead of going on still another diet. Take 100 calories out of your day's food intake, and in a year you're probably going to see the 10-pound difference.

To save 100 calories a day without a big sacrifice, use skim milk, instead of whole milk to lighten your coffee. Or use fat-free salad dressing at dinner.

By the same theory, you can avoid weight gain by cutting a mere 15 calories a day from your diet, say health experts. Most people gain just one and a half pounds a year, but that adds up over a decade.

Let's do the math: If 15 excess calories a day adds up to 1 1/2 pounds a year, you should be able to cut out a 15-calorie hard candy or a cracker a day and may never have a weight problem.

Here are some easy exchanges that add up to weight loss:

Substitute 2 tablespoons fat-free yogurt for sour cream as a topping for a baked potato, and you'll save 40 calories.

Substitute 4 ounces of canned pears in a water-pack for the same pear serving in a heavy syrup pack, and you'll save 50 calories.

Substitute 1/2 cup of regular vanilla ice cream, instead of super-premium. You'll save 100-120 calories a serving, depending on the brand.

Substitute 85 percent lean ground beef, instead of 75 percent lean, in a broiled ground beef patty, and you'll save 25 calories.

Substitute 1/2 cup of 1 percent cottage cheese for the same amount of full-fat cottage cheese, and you'll save 27 calories.

Substitute a 12-ounce can of diet lemon-lime soft drink for one with sugar added. You'll save 150 calories.

Bev Bennett is co-author of ``The Dictionary of Healthful Food Terms'' Comment by clicking here.


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