From Health magazine
"I look fat. I hate my body."
"She can eat anything she wants. I hate her."
"Im not going to that party. Ill just eat way too much."
"I would be happy if I could just get skinny."
These aren't the words or thoughts of a naturally thin person, but they might be the things you say or think to yourself. I used to talk to myself like this, but I dont do it anymore. You can stop, too. You can break free from the oppression of food obsession and become "naturally thin."
What do I mean by that? Its not some state of being beyond your grasp. You are naturally thin. You just have to make a few simple changes to let your natural thinness emerge.
By trade, Im a natural-foods chef. And a lot of what I know about food comes from my passion for both food and health.
Im naturally thin, too, but I didnt come preprogrammed that way. Dieting was always in the forefront of my mind. I cant believe how much of my life I wasted feeling fat, obsessing about what to order on a date, or figuring out how to pass up an invitation to a restaurant I perceived as serving fattening food. Back when I was ingrained in the diet mentality, I never really thought I could escape. But I did.
Today, I no longer diet. I eat pretty much whatever I want to eat. And Im ready to help you transform your entire relationship with food. Here, Ive condensed everything Ive learned about eating and cooking into simple rules you can use, too.
Your diet is your bank account
I consider this the mother of all the other rules. Its the first thing I tell people when they ask me how I stay naturally thin. And its the first thing I want you to think about every day. Just as you balance your spending and savings, you must balance your food choices. Dont eat too much of any one thing, balance starches with proteins, vegetables and fruits with sweets, and always balance a splurge with a save. This balancing is approximatebut it works, without counting, measuring, or obsessing.
Most of the time, make smart investments in healthful foods that fill you up. Then, when you really want to splurge, go ahead. You arent dieting, remember. You are living. However, a splurge comes with a price. You have to balance that splurge by cutting back a little afterward, until your accounts are in order again. Lets say you had pancakes for breakfast. Theyre fineand starchy and sweet. So what do you have for lunch? Pasta? Of course not. Thats more starch. Because you had starch and sugar earlier in the day, you now need protein and vegetables. So have a salad with grilled chicken or some vegetable soup. Just stay tuned-in to what you are doing and youll be able to have the foods you really lovein a balanced way.
Cancel your membership in the clean-plate club
This rule isnt about wasting food. On the contrary, it will help you get more for your money by increasing the fun factor, making one meal into several meals, and by putting less food in your body. Try these strategies.
• Share it. This helps you eat less while allowing you to taste more. Whenever I order something in a restaurantsalad, appetizer, soup, entree, even a drinkI always offer a taste of it to whomever Im with. More often than not, people are curious about food and happy to have a taste of what someone else chose.
• Save it. I often take food home in a doggie bag. I love having a beautiful, healthy, delicious dinner or lunch to look forward to the next day. Its economical, figure-friendly, and gives you one less meal to plan the day after. Ask the server to pack up half the entree in a doggie bag before you even see it. Instant portion control!
• Leave it. What if you realize the food really isnt all that good? Or maybe its fine but you arent in a situation where you can carry that last quarter of food home? Just leave it. If its hard for you to do, start by simply leaving one or two bites of something, then gradually increase the amount you leave.
In other words, eat real food and limit processed. Choose food thats as close to its natural state as possible. An apple is better than pasteurized apple juice, but apple juice is better than an apple-flavored drink that doesnt contain any apples. It may sound trite, but you are what you eat, so keep it real by eating organic, seasonal, and local foods. Plus, in most cases, fresh, real food tastes better.
Another important reason why eating real food can help you become naturally thin: Its usually high-volume food. Raw vegetables, in particular, are high in fiber and volume so when you eat them first you end up with less room in your stomach for other, higher-calorie foods. Start your meal with a big salad or a bowl of vegetable soup and you wont have much room left for food with more fat and calories. Sure, I still have my favorite junk food, and you can, too. But if it becomes an "I know what this is going to do to me, so Ill have only two bites" kind of thing, then youll be eating like a thin person.
Taste everything, eat nothing
I dont really mean that you cant eat anything. You will eat plenty of full portions of things. But you dont always need to do it. I love the Italian saying mangia poco ma bene. It means "Eat little, but well." In fact, I learned this rule during a trip to Italy: I started each morning with cappuccino with real full-fat milk, the way the Italians drink it. They dont drink "skinny lattes" or ask for skim milk and sugar-free sweetener. For lunch or dinner, I would have some pasta, but at only one of those meals, and only a small order, combined with a little filling protein. Its how humans are supposed to eattasting little bits of the very best foods. But how do you pull off little tastes?
If you spoil your appetite, rule 4 is possible. For example, when you know youre going to an event that will offer opportunities for overeating, the worst thing you can do is to starve yourself all day because you think it will allow you to eat more. Do just the opposite: Eat a simple, sensible breakfast; have a healthy, light lunch; and right before you go to the party have a healthy snack.
People are so afraid to do this! They think that eating before a party will add way too many calories. But the calories you save by having a healthful snack before you are faced with temptation will more than make up for the calories you spend.
When you barrel through the food on your plate as if youre in a race, do you really taste what youre eating? Did your body even register that it had a meal? Eating consciously makes food worth the calories. It also helps you become choosier about what you eat. And it helps you eat less. Here are some tips for learning how to do it.
• Taste your food. It takes two seconds to shift your attention to what you are doing and actually taste what youre eating. Then, the food will register as an experience.
• Quit multitasking. If somebody told me to quit multitasking, I would laugh. My life wouldnt work if I didnt do a million things at once. But we dont have to carry that way of life into mealtimes. When we do, not only do we fail to digest our food as well or enjoy it as much, but we also eat more of it. New policy: Dont eat while doing something else. I know this isnt always possible, but its a good goal. If you have to eat an energy bar in the car, take little bites and taste it.
• Always sit down to eat. When you eat standing up, whether youre cooking, snacking, or just picking at food, you wont feel satisfied, because you arent really thinking about eating. Those bites while youre distracted with cooking really add up. If you dont eat until youre ready to make yourself a plate and sit down, youll save hundreds of unnecessary calories.
• Make food special. In a restaurant, you pay to have your food made special. So why shouldnt you do it at home? To make a salad, dont just grab some iceberg lettuce out of a bag. Choose fresh, crisp greens, and top them with nuts or shaved Parmesan. Add herbs or crumbles of feta cheese.
If your food is really worth it, youll be more likely to pay attention.
If your portion is small, you can eat absolutely anything that really sounds good to you. But Im not going to tell you to break out your measuring cups and spoons. You arent on a diet. You arent eating obsessively or with anxiety and worry. Just put these simple containers in your portion-control tool kit instead.
Small plates. If you put a little food on a big plate, youre going to feel cheated. I always use a salad plate instead of a full-size dinner plate for my meals and snacks at home. Keep the salad plates at the front of your cabinet, and grab those first.
Ramekins. Never eat anything out of a bag; use a ramekin for decadent treats like ice cream or chips. I use them every day.
Mini-muffin tin. Instead of baking big cakes and loaves, bake mini cupcakes and muffinsautomatic portion control.
Chopsticks. Although you can certainly use regular utensils, chopsticks are fun and can help slow you down.
Small juice glasses and dessert wineglasses. Save the big tumblers and pint glasses for water. For everything else, use smaller glasses.
All that time and energy spent wishing you looked like, say, Victoria Beckham is much better spent getting to know yourself and your own hunger patterns. Part of the problem I have with "eating every three hours" or "eating five times every day" is that not everyone is hungry so often; and even if you are this hungry on some days, you wont be on other days.
Or, maybe youre the kind of person who does have to eat when you arent hungry because if you dont, youll forget about eating until youre ravenous, and then you wont be able to control yourself. It all depends on you. Youre the one in controlnot the food, and not any kind of diet. Get to know yourself: Write down your own rules about how you like to eat, but only if you see them as your personal preferences and qualities, rather than self-imposed laws.
Bethenny Frankel is a celebrity natural-foods chef, author of Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting, and owner of the baked-goods company bethennybakes.