The Diet

...of doom? That's definitely what some people say. And I've certainly been known to refer to it as such. Usually a sarcastic jab at the docs who put me on this diet. I think my favorite name for it is the "Crazy-Ass Diet of Doom." [You can tell we're close, this diet and I, huh?]

But seriously, folks. If you've read the No-List, you've got a basic sense of how this diet works for me. But there's more to it than a list of food I can't eat or have to limit in my diet. It is, like the No-List, rather strict. And it also is more of a lifestyle change than the typical way our society thinks of diets. It doesn't just apply to food, though food is the main focus. Take a look at the list below for more explanation.

1. Follow the food restrictions on the No-List. No acceptions.
2. Portion control. Pay attention and follow the serving sizes for the foods I eat.
3. Eat smaller meals, and eat more of them per day.
4. Eat sitting down, do not eat and run. Make sure the environment for meals is calm and relaxing.
5. Take small bites, chew thoroughly, take my time to finish a meal.
6. Keep belly fat to a minimum. Keep general weight at an optimum level for my height/age.
7. Do not eat 2-3 hours before lying down to sleep/rest.
8. Raise the head of the bed about 6-9 inches (either with foam wedge under the mattress or with props under the legs).
9. Exercise 3-4 times a week.
10. Wear loose-fitting clothing.
11. Keep a food journal.
12. No smoking.
13. Drink a lot of water every day.
14. Take prescription antacid & OTC probiotic daily, 30 minutes before breakfast.
15. Take 1 Tbsp fiber supplement daily with dinner.

I'm not gonna lie - I do so much dislike the pills/supplement part of my current diet. I've never been good at swallowing pills, and the supplements have to be taken at a certain time every day, making it hard to have a spontaneous evening. But, I've gotten used to it - and the fiber supplements aren't all that bad, actually. (It's not in pill form, so I'm more inclined to like this directive from my doctor.) The stuff my doctor told me to take is called Benefiber, available at any CVS or other drugstore near you at a pretty good price. I mix it in with my water for dinner. It's great - it's tasteless, odorless, and dissolves very quickly in water - it's like it's not even there. [Hmm, suddenly this stuff reminds me of Iocane powder from the Princess Bride...]

I eat about 5-6 meals a day: generally breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and optional snack if I'm up late (read: at a dance or blues/house party). Main meals take about 30-45 minutes (breakfast and lunch are closer to 30, dinner closer to 45) and snacks generally take 10-15 minutes. All meals include a full glass of water.

Portion-control has been something that I've had to work hard at making into a habit. It was never something I thought that much about in the past. Now, I keep a measuring cup in my cereal box, I've begun to gain the ability to eyeball serving sizes of different fruits and vegetables, and I own a Tupperware lunch set that has portion-sized containers - making it much easier for me to pack lunch and snacks quickly in the morning.

Because I don't eat an over-abundant amount of calories anymore, I've found that I have to eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day in order to sustain my energy level. If I don't, I can fade in minutes from my regular bouncy self to feeling faint, not able to walk straight, and completely exhausted. It's a weird feeling... it's like watching myself wilt.

As I've mentioned a couple of times now, this diet has quite the rigorous schedule, and I've had to learn to stick to pretty rigidly. I can't say I'm good at staying on the schedule 100% of the time, but I can say that I feel better when I do follow the schedule. A typical day-in-the-life-of-Nina-on-this-diet:

5:30 - take antacid, probiotic pills
6:00 - breakfast
9:00 or 9:30 - snack
12:00 or 12:30 - lunch
3:00 or 3:30 - snack
6:00 or 7:00 - dinner, take fiber with water
10:00ish (only if I'm at a dance that evening): snack
[This is quite obviously a weekday, given the early rise hour, but on weekends that hour changes very little - I probably get up at 7:00-7:30 instead of 5:30-6:00.]

And what do I actually eat for those meals, you ask? Yeah, that's food for another post. [Hah, pun totally intended! You roll your eyes and pretend to scoff at me, but you know you love it!]

My suggestions if you're starting a diet, or trying to follow one:
- Food journal. I did it for the first 6 weeks I was on this diet. It really helped me control what I ate, when I ate it, and how much I ate of it. It also reminded me to drink copious amounts of water, and helped me figure out a way to plan out a day's meals in my head such that I get the right balance of foods that I need. I'm not a very good food journaler anymore, but I do still write out meal plans for the week - to see how I can use ingredients in more than one dinner dish so I keep my grocery bill down, stuff like that.
- Measuring cups - use 'em. Portion control is key.
- Smaller meals and more of them.
- A diet is more than food restrictions; it's a lifestyle change. You can't lose weight if you're not committed to actually changing the way food interacts with your life. ['Nuff said, really. No soapbox here - just my own observation - for what it's worth.]

If I had to take a guess at what's going through your head right now, I'd say something along the lines of either A) "wow, I could never do something quite that drastic" or B) "wow, that's strict!" [Am I right, huh? Huh?] Yeah, to those I say: A) you can do more than you think you can, you just have to be willing to do it - there's no half-assing allowed; and B) strict, sure, but they say a habit is formed after 21 consecutive days of action and I've been doing this for 6 months - so it's become normal to me.

[It certainly does amaze me at how much the mind plays a role in your food-habits and overall nutritional health. It can deceive you into thinking one more cookie will be fine. It can also convince you that you never really wanted the cookie after all - that really, you wanted some blueberries. Go get some, they taste good!]

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