DIET 101

Forbidden Fruit

“Forbidden Fruit”

OK, you’re overweight. Who cares? Over half the U.S. population is overweight so you are not alone. Why bother dieting? There is a good answer to that question. You want to diet so that you can stay healthy. What does overweight lead to? How about high blood pressure, stroke, cancer (breast, colon, prostate), diabetes and reduced ability to exercise, which in turn leads to more weight. Then again, excess weight promotes diverticulosis, gallstones, gout and fatigue, and aggravates arthritis on weight-bearing joints. Excess fat also leads to premature death because of various combinations of the aforementioned medical problems. So dieting is not just a maybe thing, it is a necessary thing.

Let me begin by saying that you can only reduce by eating fewer calories and especially fewer fat calories than you are used to. (Nope, exercise by itself cannot do it. )

It is a proved fact that one pound of fat – any fat – has 3,500 calories. It is also a fact that your body has a certain level where increasing calories will make you gain weight and decreasing calories will make you lose weight. This level is called your “maintenance” level and you can roughly calculate this, if your are reasonably active. Multiply your current weight by 13 (12 if you are inactive). So if your current weight is 180 pounds your maintenance diet is 2,340 calories a day. Eat more than that and gain, eat less than that and lose. Alternately, go to This data is more detailed but approximates what I said earlier

Another way to lose weight is to take the weight you wish to reduce to and multiply that by 13. Let’s say that you are 180 and want to be 165. 165 X 13 = 2,145. Now limit your caloric intake to 2,145 calories a day and over time your weight will drop. This is slower than what I am going to recommend, but it does slim you down.

My own diet plan, which works for me, is to make the first calculation (180 X 13=2340), then reduce my calories 500 a day below that figure.

That takes you down to 1840. Notice that by reducing your calories 500 a day X 7 days = 3,500 calories or one pound of fat per week. Let’s assume that is the approach you wish to take.

The first thing you have to do is learn how to calculate the calories in the food you eat. This has been made somewhat easier since the law requires prepackaged foods to contain nutrition information on the packaging (but beware, read the entire label and see how many servings in the package. Companies sometimes cheat). So off-the-shelf items have the caloric content plus a percentage listing of other nutrients (fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, etc.) right on the side of the package.

The second way to determine calories in your food and drink is by purchasing a good book which lists all the foods and gives you the calorie count (and other information) for each. Any good bookstore or on-line bookseller will have books of this type. I use a book entitled, “The Fat Counter ISBN:0-671-02565-1”. You can order this from if you are able to get on-line. Otherwise your bookstore can order it.

The final thing you must do, on a daily basis, is keep a log of EVERYTHING you eat and drink with the calorie count alongside so that you can add it up and know your daily caloric intake. You must do this for at least a month. You can’t do anything with a diet unless you can measure it. It is too easy to cheat and grab a cookie or other snack and conveniently forget to include its calorie cost in your daily calculations unless you write it down. This process ALSO makes you aware of how many calories are hidden away in that morsel that you crave. (i.e. one Saltine =14. (Yup count EVERY calorie, even a Saltine.) Later, after you have lost the excess weight you will at least know how many calories an item costs, and you will be aware that maybe eating that costly morsel is something to avoid.

THE BEGINNING: Buy yourself a good scale. Preferably one with a digital readout so you don’t have to guess where the pointer is reading. Then, weigh yourself for three consecutive days, always in the same garb (in your underwear or naked), and average the weights to get your starting weight. Then only weigh yourself once a week and watch the change. It does work.

Now, how about hunger? What do you do so that you are not being plagued by hunger pangs all day. Happily there are a few comfortable ways to alleviate hunger. For starters, complex carbohydrates, things like bread, cake, potatoes and pasta, break down quickly in your stomach and raise your sugar level to give you strength and energy. That is why athletes pile in ”carbs” before a contest. Unfortunately this energy or “sugar spike” dissipates quickly, with the result that your stomach begins to growl and your hungry craving for food quickly begins to grow. SOLUTION: eliminate the carbs for breakfast and lunch and substitute fruit, vegetable or proteinfor these meals. IMPORTANT: Protein breaks down slowly so you it leaves you far less ravenous than if you eat carbs. Not only will your appetite be diminished, but you will be spared the heaviest hunger pangs that carbohydrates bring on. For example, for breakfast I drink a cup of coffee or tea, 8 ounces of V-8 juice or Clamato (50-60 calories) and eat half a banana (50 calories) Note that there are no bagels, breakfast rolls, Danish pastries, toast, muffins or cereal. The only carbs are in the banana and they are minimal or so-called simple carbs. My breakfast costs me about 100-110 calories and I record that.

Get a slight hunger twinge about 1030/1100 o’clock? Drink a bottle of water, a diet soft drink, a cup of tea or coffee with no real sugar or some satisfying snack with a bit of flavor. What is a satisfying snack? Try Hearts of Palm for 35 calories per stick, carrots at 10 calories each, mushrooms for about the same cost, cooked asparagus, raw cauliflower, peeled cucumber with lemon and salt – the list is endless. Use your imagination. Note that the list does not include crackers or carbs or regular soft drinks with their huge amounts of sugar, and also, there is no fattening stuff like cheese.

Now, how about lunch? Same principles apply. Look for something that is filling but low in calories. Hot food satisfies more than cold. If you like Japanese food here is a great combination. Buy some packages of dehydrated Kikkoman Tofu Miso Soup (35 calories but a bit high on salt) and mix with one cup of boiling water, and add one can of drained Snow’s minced clams. Drain the clams into a glass beforehand and add some lemon and lime juice and drink this separately. The clams and juice add 90 calories to the count, so your filling lunch costs you only 125 calories. Add that to the 110 calorie breakfast and your total for the day has now reached 235 calories total.(HINT: you can eat the clams without the miso but with some lime juice or salsa on them) Don’t like clams? Try vegetarian Boca Burgers and eat one with all the usual hamburger condiments (ketchup, mustard, relish, lettuce, sliced onions, tomatoes) but no bread. The burger will cost you 120 calories and the extras probably another 20, so you have a 140 calorie lunch that is tasty and filling and still no carbs. How about TOFU. High protein-3 ounces 80 calories. Or try Oscar Mayer sliced, cooked ham slice = 20 calories.

Same snack ideas (and others at the end of this dissertation) for the afternoon. Yes, you might feel a few hunger rumbles, but that won’t kill you and after a week or two of dieting even these seem to disappear. As an interesting note, after I had been on my diet for three months I had to have some X-rays of my lower intestinal tract (colonoscopy). To do this I had to fast for two days. I could eat nothing and only drink clear liquids. I controlled the hunger with the water/diet soft drink routine, and except for the habit of eating, which I missed, I was easily able to go the designated period without undue discomfort.

Supper time. Now you can dig into a more calorie-intense meal. Meat, vegetable(s) and carbs. Meat – try three ounces, but cut it up small so you can enjoy it longer. Three ounces is about the size of a pack of cards, but most of the time skip beef. Vegetables – I pretty much eat any that come along, and usually two. Pasta – one serving, a cup, is about the size of a fist

Now, a bit more about carbohydrates. The Atkins Diet is famous for its restriction on carbohydrates. More and more I believe that Dr. Atkins is on to something positive. Atkins insists that if you swear off carbs you can eat virtually anything else, including fats and red meat, and still lose weight. Apparently it does work, but most dieticians agree that it has problems. First there is the actual bodily need for carbohydrates for proper nutrition.

Carbohydrates provide sugar for energy, and if the body is starved of carbohydrates it steals the nutrition from the body’s muscular structure. Long term, that has detrimental effects.

So what to do? My solution is to wait until the evening meal and add the complex carbohydrates then, but cut back on the quantity. Halve your portion of pasta or eat a smaller potato. Reduce the heap of rice on the plate. For example, one quarter cup of long grain rice (dry) equals 150 calories (some rice might be a bit higher), so if you prepare one cup of dry rice you have 600 calories in the pot . Take a fourth of that and you will consume just 150 calories for your carbs that night. Don’t use butter or margarine. Instead buy some fat free butter-flavored dry sprinkle for 5 calories per teaspoon. A couple of trade names for this are “Molly Butter” and ‘Butter Buds”

What can you do to compensate for the missing carbohydrate bulk? And bulk is important. I recommend eating a variety of vegetables and increasing the amount of protein-rich lean low fat meat. What meat? Certainly not beef which is high in both calories and fat. Instead, how about various types of fish; skinned chicken or turkey parts; trimmed pork loin. You can cook the meat in different ways – bake, broil, microwave, but please, nothing fried in oil. If you use a Teflon coated pan you can eliminate the fat needed for frying, and eliminate those extra calories. (The George Foreman cookers work very well here also). You can doctor up the meat with any number of low or no calorie condiments such as lemon or lime juice and/or capers on the fish. Cook the poultry with herbs like rosemary or basil and even serve with mild salsa sauce, or bake or microwave it with a bit of dry vermouth for moisture and flavor. Ham is great (though a bit on the fat-side despite a low calorie count) with a mild Dijon style mustard and maybe a small dollop of applesauce. And pork loin is also wonderful. You can flavor this white meat with garlic powder or any of the prepared container seasonings. Some of the seasonings that we have are: Mrs. Dash Salt Free Seasoning Blend; Emeril has a number of what he calls “Essences” which work well. Remember to use herbs and things like curry powder. Basically what you want to do is add to the rainbow of flavors in your food so that the diet doesn’t get boring. Variety is the spice of life, and that is true in dieting as it is in daily living.

Salad is important. It adds to the bulk and adds fiber, and of course, it contains its own special nutrients that the body welcomes. Find some low cal dressings to perk up the flavor. Trader Joe’s makes two I particularly like. They are Cilantro Dressing and Creamy Basil. Only 50 calories per two tablespoons and they also go well on vegetables. Their Ranch dressing only has 30 calories. Most other supermarkets will have something similar.

Alcohol? I knew you would ask. Yes, you can drink, but know that alcohol has plenty of calories too. 3.5 ounces of red (Merlot, Cabernet) wine equals 75 calories, but sugar-heavy Port wine, which is fortified with brandy, has155. White wine 70; 12 ounces of regular beer 170; light beer 100; 1.5 ounces of gin 110;1.5 ounces rum or vodka 100. We always program this into our diet, but alcohol increases your appetite while it lowers your resistence to temptation, so start late. We always have wine with dinner, but we drink our daily Martini after 9:00 PM.

The trick to success in dieting is to stick with it and give the food you do eat as much flavor as possible. This way you can look forward to all your meals and still lose weight. And shun the complex carbs.

How about your bodily shape as you lose weight? Don’t be disappointed if your body doesn’t return to the appearance it had when you could wash your clothes on your rippling stomach muscles. The pot belly is the last thing to go unless you work out heavily which most of us don’t do. Instead you will find the blobs under your upper arms disappearing, most of your waistline ‘love handles’ will go, your legs and especially your thighs will slim down and your facial cheeks will flatten. You will definitely lose inches around your waistline even if some of the pot remains. For men, remember the magic figure is a waist that measures less than 40 inches (Don’t use your pants size, use a tape on the largest area.) Above that its heart attack time. The purpose of the diet is not to make you look like a Greek statue. The purpose is to lose weight and gain all the benefits that lost weight provides.

And how much weight should you lose? Set a realistic goal. Don’t worry about the recommended height /age /weight tables. Too many people shoot for these ‘desirable’ goals and then become discouraged and quit dieting when they can’t get there. Begin your diet by planning to lose ten pounds. This is realistic and even losing ten pounds contributes to better fitness. When you get there (remember you have to weigh the new weight for three days before it becomes official) then you can decide where to go. By this time you will have learned the routine and may feel inclined and encouraged to shoot for another five or ten pound loss. Probably most importantly you will have learned to recognize the fat producing foods and will automatically reject them. That alone will probably drop you one size lower in your clothes size. In four months my waist went from a 38 to a 36 and my wife, Kay, went from a 14 to a comfortable and slightly loose12. PROGRESS!

OK, the final question. How long will this take? Figure roughly one pound a week if you do as I do and reduce your calories to 500 below your maintenance diet.

This assumes that you also program in some reasonable exercise. The exercise is not what makes you lose weight unless you want to climb the Empire State Building three times to lose one pound. No, lack of exercise makes the body slow its metabolism and burn the food more slowly. So exercise! Perhaps you can program in a short vigorous walk, a bike ride, a swim, tennis, golf, dancing – walk up stairs instead of taking an elevator – whatever appeals to you.

Know also that you will have plateaus where you go for a period of time and just don’t seem to be lose weight. I hit one of these at 175 pounds and it took me two weeks to finally break through. For some reason it was then a breeze to go down to 170, my first goal. I am now that 170 and looking towards 165. That was my weight when I left Navy Pre-Flight School in 1945

Like everyone, we sometimes have to or want to eat out, and the calories in restaurant food are almost always more than you eat at home. Use common sense and push away the French fries and cheese products. Order things that are not killer high in calories. Skip the bread and rolls. You can also take home a “doggie bag” and eat the excess for some part of a meal next day or share it with the kitties or pups. But don’t skip eating out if you want. In point of fact, I really believe that one reasonable, off the diet, meal every week reminds your metabolism that it is still alive and must keep working hard to process the food. It also helps you to remain faithful to the dieting regime by handing you an afternoon or evening of eating that you can especially look forward to.

Here is another hint to make dieting easier. Try to find someone else to diet with you or compare notes with. It makes it easier to stick with the diet because misery loves company. There are plenty of people who are overweight and want to lose. Bring up the subject with a friend or neighbor and you might just find an anxious partner there. What if you can’t find someone? If you have a computer and can go on line you can easily find some virtual buddies who are also dieting. Here are a few listings that I found in an article in the Wall Street Journal:;; You can compare your progress, find support when you weaken and know that you have found friends who are also struggling with a dieting problem.

Now, using the above system my wife and I have arrived at our realistic weight goals. We simply watch what we eat and always keep that maintenance diet figure in mind (which must be recalculated now that we are slimmer). We are determined not to regain the lost weight. It s too much fun and mentally comforting to be slim. We look better and we are able to do everything easier.

Don Hubbard © May 2003


Just for starters, here are some diet helping foods and their calorie count. Use your imagination to find many more.:

Apple, ½ 40

Asparagus, 4 spears 15

Boca Burger, 1 patty 120

Boca Sausage, 2 links 100

Broccoli ,½ cup 25

Canned clams, 6 ½ once can 90

Carrots, ½ cup 35

Chicken broth, 99% fat free/can 30

Consomme beef, 10.5 ounce can 50

Celery stalk 5

Crab meat, cup 135

Cucumbers, 1 35

Grapes, 10 35

Heart of Palm 35

Orange, ½ 40

Radishes, 10 10

Shrimp, 4 large 25

Tomato, 1 ½ ounce 25

Complex Carbohydrates – worrisome stuff – starter list just to give you an idea.

Bread, White, slice 70

Whole Wheat, slice 70

Rye , slice 60

Cous Cous, 1/3rd cup dry 230

Egg Noodles, Yolkless, 12 Oz. Pkg. 1,200

Potato, boiled, ½ cup 70

Yukon Gold 1 (5.3 Ounce) 110

Rice, 1/4 cup dry 150



There has been some talk about the discovery of a ‘Fat Gene’. Forget it! Even if you have one, and I expect that everyone has, reducing calories reduces weight. Proof? Look at all the folks in wartime prisons who were kept underfed. They ALL lost weight. Some of them must have had that fat gene.

Contrary to popular opinion, you won’t become ill if you eat less and are hungry. We evolved being hungry. The body learned to cope with it. The body did not learn to cope with overweight since it was a very rare occurrence. For this reason the stress of providing extra capillaries to carry the blood, more nerves to service the extra beefy areas, more insulin to combat diabetes and more of all the other subtle God-given bodily processes leads to difficulties.

Finally, all the food you do eat will taste better so don’t worry about some of the stranger things on my list. As the saying goes, ‘Hunger is the best sauce!’ Everything tastes better when you’re hungry.


Any work of this sort continues to generate additional sources of information and opinion. Briefly, I want to mention the glycemic Index (GI index), which is an index of how fast carbohydrates are converted to sugar to provide energy, and conversely to become depleted and cause hunger to begin. Complex carbohydrates are those with a high glycemic index and essentially the carbohydrates that we wish to avoid. Here is a web resource to help you make a decision about high GI index

Also, in my research I came across references to LEPTIN, the body’s natural appetite suppressor. Dieting reduces the leptin in your system and reduced Leptin makes you want to eat. Bummer! THIS is what makes it hard to stay slim once you’ve lost the weight. I tell you this so you know what the enemy is and know why you want to eat after dieting. However, your body will eventually adjust to this lower level if you stick with it. Eternal vigilance is necessary here. Don’t let leptin win.

Remember: It took you years to gain the extra weight, so it won’t disappear overnight, but it will disappear if you follow the rules set forth above.

Dieting is no game for quitters!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!