It’s January 2010!

In December I said if you walk every day and stop eating/drinking what you already know is bad for you, I’d provide more details in January.

Eating smarter simplified
• What you eat and drink is about long-term health.
• How much you eat is about getting rid of fat.
• Please reread the last two sentences.

WHAT to eat/drink for long-term health:
• fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts
• whole grains—breads, cereals, rice 
• skim, 1% or soy milk
• olive and canola oils
• water

WHAT NOT to eat/drink:
• simple carbohydrates like crackers, cookies, chips, pastries
• sodas and sugar
• whole or 2% milk
• meat—that’s beef, pork, bacon, ham…
• don’t salt your food
• alcohol—more than one or two drinks per day

That information isn’t overly detailed or controversial. I’m keeping it simple because it is simple. What’s not simple are diets. There are more diets than overweight Americans. And they all work. Huh? Sure, their purpose is to sell books, programs or magazines, and sell ’em, they surely do!

If they’re healthy and effective, they have three things in common:
1. A balance of the food groups (We just talked about that.)
2. They control calories (We’re going to talk about that next.)
3. They advocate exercise (We’ll talk about that, too.)

HOW MUCH to eat so you can “lose” fat:
First, let’s stop thinking of it as “losing” fat. That sounds kind of effortless and passive, doesn’t it?

Less fat is a byproduct of your activity. So how much to eat is directly connected to how much activity you add to your daily life. The goal is not to lose weight; the goal is to get rid of fat. And to keep it off.

How strict should you adhere to what we’ve talked about so far? If you stray from your plan will it have a negative effect? Yes. It’s cumulative. If you have a couple of weaknesses, that’s no big deal. If you give in to one of them daily, it is a big deal.

Example: one donut with breakfast or one extra glass of wine with dinner. Innocent enough, right? Well that’s 125 to 150 calories x 30 days = approx. 4125 calories per month. Taking in 3500 calories more than you burn = a pound of fat. Am I saying if all else (food/drink intake and exercise) stayed the same, eliminating one donut or one glass of wine daily would get rid of 12 lbs. of fat in a year? Absolutely. That’s not theory, that’s a fact.

But it tastes so good, you plead. Yeah, and junkies love their heroin, but that’s not really much of an excuse for self abuse, is it? Don’t make it all about self denial. It’s not. You don’t like having all that extra fat. If you make smarter decisions, you’ll feel better and you’ll have more energy. You’ll probably live longer, but you’ll definitely enjoy more as long as you do live. Those are pretty good motivators to inspire habit change. Weighed against “but it tastes so good”? Please.

We’ll address the 3. Exercise more (the most important factor) in my next column. Until then, just walk more.

P.S. The answer to last month’s pop quiz in the “Simple, Not Easy” column: Alcohol.