How to eat great food and not gain weight
Here's the dilemma: I'm in Sicily on a food trip. That basically means that we eat our way through the day, starting with a wonderful buffet breakfast, moving to a 4 course lunch that takes at least 2 hours, and then on to dinner that often has even more courses than lunch. Don't even mention the wine or limoncello!
I still need to be able to zip my pants and walk up and down the 2 flights of stairs to my hotel room without passing out from gaining weight during this week-long trip.
Here's how I'm managing it, with tips for you to use at home:
1. Protein and fruit for breakfast. There's a great fresh fruit salad, that includes strawberries, melon, oranges, and pineapple that I mix with delicious European plain yogurt and a tablespoon of mueslix cereal. That's it. I drink water for breakfast and throughout the day. Home tip: Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of getting up in the morning. Keep starch portions small and high fiber, and make sure to include protein for staying power and fruit to satisfy your appetite and fill you up. An alternative suggestion is a hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit (boil the eggs the night before to save time in the morning).
2. When faced with a 4-course lunch (antipasti, pasta course, fish/meat course, dessert) I do two things. First, I eat more of the vegetables on the antipasti course to fill up on fiber and delicious tastes that I love. Second, I keep the portions really small. Today we had the choice of a small plate or a large plate. Of course I picked the smaller plate. A taste is about 1 teaspoon, and a serving 2 tablespoons. That's it. Home tip: Use a smaller plate whenever possible, fill half your plate with veggies (cooked or raw; your choice), and remember a portion is smaller than you think!
3. Skip wine at lunch. Wine not only adds a lot of unnecessary calories, it also decreases our resolve to follow the two steps listed in #2 above. Skip it at lunch, and save at least 400 calories. Home tip: Eliminate alcohol from your day completely whenever possible. There's nothing wrong having a glass of sparkling water with lemon or lime, even at a business lunch or dinner.
4. Repeat strategies from lunch in #2 at dinner. I limit myself to 1/2 glass of wine with each course. Yes, they serve a different wine with each course at dinner! If it's red wine I take one sip and then skip the rest, primarily because I don't really like red wine. The important thing here is to think about what you really like, and what you can live without. Then skip the stuff you don't really want. Home tip: The key here is to skip the food you don't really want. Most of the time we blindly eat whatever is on plate just because it's there. Leave part of your meal uneaten, or skip a food entirely if you don't really like it. Eat slowly and enjoy the foods you DO like, and you'll feel more full and satisfied while eating fewer calories.
5. Exercise every day. That may mean using the hotel fitness center, going for a brisk walk in the morning with a colleague, or making a point to walk as much as possible during the day. Home tip: wear a pedometer and set a goal to get 10,000 steps per day. That's 5 miles, and enough steps to promote gradual weight loss.
Nobody ever said you can't enjoy food and still maintain - or even lose - weight!