The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

What the...? Who shrank my jeans?

The thing about diets? They don't work. Not long-term anyway... You get bored. You can't stomach another breakfast of bacon and eggs (hold - make that hide - the toast!). Or soy yogurt and flax seed. You feel like you'll turn into cabbage soup. Or a grapefruit. Or, heck, you're just plain hungry!

So, with that said, I hope none of my fellow foodies out there resolved to go on a diet in 2008. If so, quickly and quietly take it back. (We'll look the other way for the next 15 seconds while you do.... * whistling*) OK, did you take it back? Yay!

At this point, most of us know weight gain and loss is basically addition and subtraction. If you consume fewer calories than you need, but enough to be strong and nourished, you lose weight and look great. If you eat way more (or even 300 more) calories than you need/burn, your jeans will start to, ahem, shrink over time. (I have that crazy dryer that often shrinks clothes right around the holidays. Oh, yours does that too? Weird...)

So, back in November I decided I would keep the holiday heft at bay. Not by cutting out carbs or eating like a waif. I just didn't overdo it. I enjoyed desserts, yummy alcholic beverages, full-fat and full-flavor foods, etc... But I didn't "waste" calories. For instance, there were TONS of jean-shrinking treats in the office. But I thought, "Do I really want to waste 300 calories on a random cookie bar that might not even taste that great?" Turns out, it was easier than I thought. Before, I would restrict like crazy to lose weight. Next thing you know, I'd be reaching for the
Marsha Marsha Marshmallow and give up on eating better for a while. Not a good look...

Basically, I took bits and pieces from diets that I like and made a way of eating that works for me. For instance, I like the vegan approach found in
"Skinny Bitch" (which I read in August) so I went many days without eating any meat, dairy or eggs. But, as an omnivore, I also incorporated the lean protein recommended in the Perricone Prescription and the South Beach plans. I found that when I didn't put any limitations on what I could eat or drink, I made better choices. Plus, I just felt better when I didn't have insane amounts of fat and simple sugar coursing through my veins. Not only did I not gain weight over the holidays, I lost 17 pounds and my body fat decreased. Plus, my endurance and strength at the gym improved. Sweet...

Will I ever reach for the Marsha Marsha Marshamallow? Maybe. Who am I kidding? Definitely! Just remember everything in moderation - even moderation. And now I know that I can enjoy everything without needing to get a new dryer...


at 1:41 PM Anonymous TJ Jackson said...

Thank God you and Polly are on here, or otherwise the blog would have to be renamed (and it might anyway) to "The Vegetarian Blog". I've got nothing against vegetarians, not at all, but in this case, their point of view seems vastly overrepresented on a blog that should seek to be about all foods. Perhaps a new veggie blog could be created, and all the vegetarian stuff posted over there instead.

at 2:27 PM Blogger Nicci King said...

Hey, TJ... Yeah, we are pretty vegetarian-friendly around here. I'll have to blog more about being a carnivore... :)

I've actually tried to be a vegetarian. Several times. But, when it gets right down to it, I love fish, chicken, beef, etc... It was over as soon as summer hit and my dad started grilling!

But I definitely try to limit the amount of fatty meat I eat, and I think I balance it all out with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. But sometimes, this girl's just gotta have a filet of something! And I'm not talking about chick'n or Quorn... :)

at 2:42 PM Blogger valereee said...

17 pounds lost over the holidays! Wow!

at 6:18 PM Anonymous rms said...

I disagree, TJ. I LIKE hearing about vegetarian eating. It's a good influence on me, a carnivore. I wouldn't like this topic in a separate blog.
It's all food, eh?

at 3:03 PM Blogger Rachel said...

Moderation is always good advice, but I have to disagree with the addition/subtraction calorie theory. Calories and how our body burns them are so much more complex than a simple case of calories in/calories burned. Thanks to genetic human variance, everyone metabolizes fat and calories at different rates - we all seem to know one of those very thin people who can eat all they want without gaining a pound.

And just as we all have different metabolisms and hair, eye and skin colors, so, too, exists a wide range of body shapes and sizes. If you consistently eat healthy foods, your body will eventually settle into its natural setpoint range.

I practice and promote a wellness-based approach called Health at Every Size (HAES). HAES encourages self-acceptance and a celebration of diversity and encourages people to exercise not to lose weight, but for overall health and the pure fun of it. The approach also helps people reconnect to their bodies by teaching people to listen to their own bodies cues of hunger and satiety. It's helped me maintain a weight loss of more than 100 pounds without dieting, depriving myself or killing myself at the gym for nearly 5 years now.

at 3:39 PM Blogger Nicci King said...

Rachel: Congrats on your weight loss and maintenance for 5 years. That's awesome!

I'm not sure we disagree at all. As I said in my blog entry, "if you consume fewer calories than you need," you'll lose weight. The key part of that was "than you need."

I realize another woman (let's call her Kristen) who weighs what I weigh would metabolize the same food in a different way, at a different pace, absorption rate, etc... That's to be expected since we would have different body compositions (perhaps her bones are more dense than mine; maybe one of us has more muscle mass; could be that I'm 8 years older/younger).

But wouldn't I still have a daily caloric intake to which I should stick to maintain a healthful bmi/weight? A number of calories that I require to do everything I do in a day (respiration, typing, running up a flight of stairs)? And wouldn't Kristen have her own number? And if either of us consistenyl went over/under that number more often than we didn't, wouldn't we gain/lose weight?

Oh, and I have a question about what you said about eating healthy food and settling into a natural setpoint. Let's say I need 1600 calories every day. If I consistently eat 2500 calories of junk food, I would gain weight, right? But what if I ate 2500 calories of health food? Wouldn't I still gain weight?

I'm not an expert, but it seems like even when you consider the genetics, body composition, age, etc..., it still sounds like addition and subtraction to me. But - at least from what I have read - we're all just starting at a different number.

at 4:17 PM Blogger Rachel said...

Nicci - Okay, I see where you're coming from. Each of us does have a range of calories needed by our bodies each day to function, and I believe we can temporarily override our natural setpoint range by either eating too much or too little. What I meant more so is that not all calories are created equal, so to speak. Nutrients - fat, carbohydrates and proteins - all affect our propensity to gain weight in different ways. And 3,500 calories ingested or burned doesn't always equal a gain or loss of one pound.

For more on the former, I'd recommend Gary Taubes' new book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories," and for the former, there's a good article at the NY Times on the subject.

at 4:19 PM Blogger Rachel said...

The NY Times article addresses the latter, I meant to type.

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