Of all the many remarkable things that the New Year brings, the most shocking is the unexplainable phenomena of the shrinking pants. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. You wake up in the morning ready to face a new year of hope, personal accomplishment and perhaps even to knock off a few of your annual resolutions, when you pull on your favorite pants only to find that no matter how hard you pull and tug, you can’t get them buttoned. For those of us who can get them buttoned, I assure you today will be a very uncomfortable day. Your first thought is, “Maybe these aren’t my pants. Yes, that’s it, they’re my 13 year old daughter’s pants”. This momentary glimmer of hope is quickly extinguished by the knowledge that you don’t have a 13 year old daughter…sigh”. Face to face with the fact that we may have put on a few pounds over the holidays or over the last year, the only sensible course of action (other than buying a new wardrobe) is to lose weight.
Many diagnosed and recovering Celiacs experience weight gain as the intestines begin to heal on a gluten-free diet. For some of us, watching our weight is something we have little experience with in our pre-diagnosed lives.
Dieting on an already difficult life diet like gluten-free can be challenging to say the least. Add that fact to the literally thousands of possible diets out there and it’s hard to know where to start. South Beach diet, Atkins diet, Low fat this and that diet, Weight Watchers diet, the choices are endless. If any of the popular diet plans work for you, great, but the common problem experienced with all diets is that they are difficult to stick to. I remember the cabbage soup diet, reported to guarantee the loss of xxx pounds per week, all you had to do it eat nothing but cabbage soup for the rest of your life. No one can stick to a diet that is impossible to incorporate into a sensible on-going life style.
I subscribe to the belief that in order to lose weight two things must happen. One, you must eat less and two, you must exercise more. It’s that simple. Note, I said simple, not easy.
I am not dietician or a nutrition expert, but I can say with certainty that consuming less calories and less fat grams per day will result in weight reduction. The guide I use is as follows:
||Daily Calorie intake for weight maintenance
||Daily calorie intake for weight loss
As an example, if you are a woman and want to lose weight you should keep your daily calorie intake between 1200 and 1600 calories.
Daily intake of fat grams should be generally 30% of your total calories. 1 fat gram equals 9 calories. You can reduce your percent of fat intake further if desired, but 30% is a good place to start. When you begin counting fat grams, you will quickly realize that it doesn’t take much to exceed one’s daily limit. Therefore, it is necessary to choose foods that are low in fat and still nutritionally viable. The following is a general daily fat gram allowance.
|Daily calorie intake
||Daily fat grams 30%
The first thing you will discover when following the calorie/fat limit is that you will have to reduce your portions. Sensible eating includes not only what you eat but how much you eat. It should in theory be easier for Celiacs or those on gluten-free diet to adhere to lower calorie/lower fat living because most fast food (the largest culprit of high calorie/high fat/large portion) has already been eliminated from our diets.
To get started, I suggest you first purchase a calorie/fat count book that contains a varied food list. Then, make a list of the foods you normally eat for each meal. Look the foods and portions up and record the calorie and fat count for each. Add the total for a day and you will see where you fall in weight gain/maintenance or loss. It is easier to stick to any new eating plan if you select foods that you already like to eat. As an example, if you usually have a banana and cereal for breakfast, calculate those items and correct portions into your daily plan. The following menus are intended to be used as a guide and can be substituted with other foods of similar calorie and fat counts. Once you get used to the correct portion size, it will be easy to vary your menu with other similar foods that you enjoy.
The following menus are a guide with options that will make it easy for you to create your own menus with foods that you like. By using the different options for each food item throughout the day, you will be able to create different menus all month long with foods that maintain your calorie/fat parameters.
Plan to Succeed
It’s easy for life to get in the way of the best intentions. Parties, meetings or a host of other things can alter your eating plan. Don’t sweat it. If you eat off your plan, forgive yourself and go back to it the next meal or next day. What you should not do is to throw in the towel because you ate something that was not within your calorie/fat limit. Just pick it back up the next time you can. Eating sensibly should become a way of life and not a diet.
I’m going to leave this section for another article, but it truly is the second half of the ‘keeping weight off puzzle’. Just as in eating, the best results will happen if you keep it simple. Don’t attempt to take on mountain climbing if you’ve never done it before. Just ramp up something you already do and enjoy.
One of the most important keys to a successful weight loss program is to not skip meals, especially breakfast. Keep it simple. The easiest way to get needed nutrients and not over-eat for breakfast is to keep it simple. Instead of trying to find gluten-free breads for toast, try doing without toast. A simple breakfast of fruit, cereal or eggs and coffee or tea will get your day started without excess calories and fat.
For a simple and healthy breakfast try:
Orange juice, or a banana, or 1 quarter cantaloupe, or ½ grapefruit or a cup of fresh berries
1 cup gluten-free unsweetened cereal with 1 cup 1% milk or 2 scrambled or fried eggs with 1 teaspoon butter, or 2 hard boiled or poached eggs
Coffee or tea with 1% milk
Again, I prefer to keep it simple. The best advice for a sensible lunch is to make it yourself. Stay away from fast food restaurants as much as possible. If you do have to eat lunch out, choose salads with low-fat dressings (or bring your own dressing if you are not sure that a restaurant’s dressing is gluten-free). If you are able to prepare lunch at home, a quick lunch option is Thai Kitchen’s instant soups. These soups are available in several flavors, have 190 calories, 3 grams of fat, take 3 minutes in the microwave and are very filling. Add a piece of fruit and you have lunch with less than 300 calories and less than 4 grams of fat.
If you have a little more time, try the following delicious and nutritious recipes. Almost all vegetables are virtually fat free and therefore we did not calculate vegetables or herbs in our recipes. All recipes have less than 400 calories and less than 15 grams of fat. They all can be found in our recipe archives:
One of my favorite and simplest low-fat dinners is a grilled 4-6 ounce chicken breast, beef filet, fish fillet, or pork medallion and a fresh greens and vegetable salad. Simple and delicious, there is no shortage of vegetable, fruit, nut or cheese combinations, making this a wonderful and satisfying meal.
Feel a little more adventurous? Try any of the following recipes for sensational taste without adding on the pounds.
Keep the Weight Off tips:
- Avoid snacking on processed foods. If you must snack, eat a piece of fruit or any raw vegetable.
- Drink lots of water. Water is good for you and will temporarily fill you up.
- If you are eating 3 nutritious meals and still ‘starving’ go outside and busy yourself with exercise or a project.
- Try to avoid fatty meats.
- Eat more fish, shellfish and poultry.
- Reduce your portion sizes. Try to keep your meat portions between 4-6 ounces.
- Think of eating sensibly as just that rather than ‘dieting’.
There are literally hundreds of low-fat recipes in our Recipe Archives to try beside the ones we have listed. I hope you will try them and wish you the greatest success and health for the new year.
Happy New Year,