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Tip #6: Rethink Your Appetizer

September 25, 2009

You might notice that all of my tips focus on changes to behaviors that are not dieting.  These early tips are all nutritional, but I will be adding some physical activity tips shortly.  In any case, why I mention this is because diets don’t work (I will be blogging more about this later, with what I take to be a very convincing argument).  If diets don’t work, how are you going to get fit, because let’s face it, that is what most of us want.  Well, the answer is in rephrasing the question and the answer.  Changing our metaphors and changing our goals.  All of this is so basic, so simple that we realize it in almost everything else we do, but we just don’t get it with respect to our health.  When one thing doesn’t work over and over again, and we have literally millions of case studies of failures, we tend to look for other solutions.

Why I am mentioning this is because I came across this very interesting article.    The gist of it is that they split a group in half.  One half went on a diet, the other half made some small behavoiral changes.  The results are very interesting.  The study itself is here (please remember what I said about studies and how often they are misrepresented.  Don’t even bother reading an article about a study if you can’t find the actual study.  I am including both here, and by the way, the medicalnewstoday.com website is actually pretty reliable in what they say).  This advice I have in Tip #6 is one of the simple behavioral changes that can really add up.  You will be healthier and you may even lose weight.

A side note here, but the study was done by Linda Bacon, a nutritionist.  She believes that you can be healthy no matter what your size (which may well be true), and that your weight is essentially set from birth in your genes (which I don’t believe for a second).  This second thought of hers is essentially the Set-Point Theory of weight.  It has taken a lot of criticism.  There is a nugget of truth there and I will explain my theory about it in an upcoming blog post, but remember, getting fit to me includes getting healthy and looking good.  You don’t have to look like a fitness model, but you have to get excited when you look in a mirror.  End of side note, on to the tip:

The tip: Rethink Your Appetizer

About 10 minutes before your meal, finish eating an apple, some other fruit, or a salad (bonus on a Mediterranean salad-see the recipe section of You Are Not A Fit Person for this one). This will help you to eat less at mealtime.  The key here is to finish about 10 minutes your main meal starts.  This is a very hard tip to follow because it takes a lot of organization, but if you do follow it, it is probably the easiest way to eat less at meal time.

The keys to this one are:

  1. Eat a very low calorie density food item before your meal.  Make sure it is relatively large, like an apple or salad and very low in calories for the size.  The idea is you are replacing dinner calories with a very low calorie appetizer choice.  If you end up eating a restaurant style appetizer then you have certainly done more damage than good.  I know it seems obvious, but you don’t understand how many times I have taken something like this to understand that eating a big appetizer before my meal was actually a wash.  It isn’t.  Fruit or salad only (and no meat or cheese in the salad).
  2. Make sure you have about 10 minutes to begin to digest your food.  The plan here is that it takes about 10 minutes after you stop eating to feel full.  This way, when you are eating dinner, you will feel full while you are eating, not ten minutes later.  It has probably always been your habit to to eat until you are full, rather than stop before you are full and wait for your body and mind to catch up.  This makes it easier.

So, rethink your appetizer to dampen your appetite, not whet it.  You want to eat less, not find a way to get a half meal in before your meal.  Make sure that you modify these instructions as you need to to achieve the outcomes you should be shooting for.  The goal is to eat less at dinner and feel as full as you can.  If an apple just makes you hungrier, try something else.  If 10 minutes is too long, and you are full before you eat, try 5 minutes.  It is important to know the reasons on how a tip works to make it work for you.  I keep stressing we are all different, I also keep telling you why I think something works and how I believe it works.  This is so you can modify things as need be to select the best changes for you and the way you want to look and feel.  Remember, if you can find some changes that you can stick to, you don’t have to even think diet.

Finally, a small side note here on apples before dinner.  There was a diet based upon eating an apple before each meal called the 3-Apple-A-Day Plan.  It is all based upon some findings at Gold’s Gym by Tammi Flynn, the head trainer at the time.  An excerpt of it can be found here.

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