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February 2001

by Gabby

Slim up for Summer - Part 1

Spring is right around the corner, so start getting rid of the cobwebs now and you'll be ready to embrace summer when it rolls around! This month we'll start by shedding a few pounds as painlessly as possible. Next month we'll add a little exercise to jump start our metabolism.

Diet crazes have made us doubt our body's messages. Don't give in to the "Carbs are hazardous to your health and your waistline" myth that's all the rage right now. It's also time to relax restrictions against certain "taboo" foods, namely anything with fat. Your body needs fat and probably craves it too. Most women do. A study from England found when women cut their fat intake in half, their dispositions take a nosedive too. They get angrier, moodier, more hostile. Has your family been complaining about your snippiness? It could be due to not enough fat! (Of course, it's best to focus on the so-called good fat, the monounsaturated type found in olives, olive oil, canola oil, soybeans, soybean oil, tofu, nuts, peanut oil, and avocado.) The best way to stop overeating fat is to stop restricting it. When you try to eat only fat-free foods, you're sure to make up for it with a high-fat binge later. If you eat a moderate amount of fat somewhere around 30 percent of your total calories you'll gain energy without gaining any weight.

While we're stopping the oil embargo, we might as well halt the sugar sanction too. The trouble with sugar is it usually causes energy crashes. A simple carbohydrate, sugar is quickly digested and absorbed, leading to a dip when that surge of energy disappears. There is, however, a way to avoid such a roller coaster: Don't eat sugar by itself. Make sure there's something else present in your stomach that will slow digestion and absorption. Drink a glass of milk with that cookie, nibble a slice of cheese with that apple, have a little yogurt with those raspberries.

Deprivation diets pile on the pounds. In her new book, best-selling nutritionist Debra Waterhouse offers a daring five-meal-a-day plan for a slimmer body. The plan, part of Waterhouse's Outsmarting Female Fatigue: Eight Energizing Strategies for Lifelong Vitality, offers the freedom to eat moderate amounts of a wide variety of foods without feeling a single pang of guilt.

Small, frequent meals that constantly refuel your body provide big, long-lasting benefits. A "three balanced meals" approach can cause an imbalance in our energy level. Too much time elapses between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we eat too much food in the evening. So, instead, try eating five small meals a day. It will double your energy while controlling your weight. Just be sure you don't make the mistake of eating five courses at each of those five meals. Have cereal for breakfast, fruit and yogurt midmorning, half a sandwich at lunch, the other half midafternoon, and a modest-size dinner that could fit in your hand.

When your stomach is empty and growling, your body's primary directive is to get you to eat to fill your energy tank and fuel your body. But if you don't refuel within 30 minutes of those first biological signals, your blood-glucose level plummets even more, causing you to get a headache or heartburn and to feel nauseated or irritable. When you finally do stop to eat, you can't help but overdo it. Instead, listen to your appetite signals and refuel right away. You'll feel energized immediately. And because you were hungry but not famished when you began eating, you are more easily satisfied with a moderate amount of food.

How much food does it take to perfectly fill your stomach? The answer lies in the palm of your hand. Less than a handful and you're not filling your food tank enough; more than a handful and you're filling it too much. Here are some standard serving-size shockers to help open your eyes to moderate palm-size portions:

Half a sandwich (not a foot-long sub)
10 potato chips (not a 10-ounce bag)
1 cup of cooked pasta (not half a 16-ounce package)
A small hamburger (not a Big Mac or Whopper)
3 heaping tablespoons of ice cream (not a whole pint or even a cup)

There are certain exceptions to the "hand" measuring cup. Three handfuls of lettuce leaves equal one serving. And a "good size" bowl of soup is allowed. But for most foods, remember this: Your hand is the measuring cup of your stomach . . . use it.

So, give yourself permission to eat anything and everything in moderation and you'll outsmart both your female fatigue and your fat cells.