I’m in middle of a diet. I’m always in middle of a diet. And as is the tradition when someone is in the middle of a diet, I’m going to talk about it.
After all these years of trying to lose weight by not really eating less, I finally decided to bite the bullet and count calories. (A bullet is 200 calories.) And it’s been kind of working, in the sense that I’m on a very slow downward slope. I’m losing weight about as fast as I was gaining it before, which is “not really noticeable until I run into someone who hasn’t seen me in a while.”
I used to be down on all these diets that count calories, but I’ve come to realize that they’re probably effective. No one’s counting calories because they like math.
The thing about dieting is that you can’t just eat as little as possible, because you’re going to stop functioning properly, and then one day you’re going to accidentally eat enough to make up for all the time you didn’t eat.
So someone suggested an app that tells me how many calories I need to eat in order to lose a safe amount of weight. And by “safe amount of weight,” I hope it means an amount that doesn’t make my head suddenly look too big for my body.
Then, every day, you enter whatever foods you ate, and it calculates how many calories you have left for the day. So I have to read nutrition labels. Baruch Hashem, everything helpfully has calorie information posted in big numbers on the side. And if there’s no nutrition label, I have to weigh the food. I have a food scale in my kitchen, which I have been probably unsuccessfully trying to keep kosher. I put on several layers of paper towels, then I have to weigh the paper towels with the food and subtract the weight of the paper towels. It’s annoying, and not just because I can’t see the numbers through the paper towels.
The thing I like about this diet is that it’s all about choices. I can eat whatever I want. I can even have jelly beans! Well, jelly bean. Singular. But plural over the course of a bunch of days that are not in a row!
Though I do find that if all I’m eating is one jelly bean, I’m way pickier about what color it is. When I’m down to the end of this bag, six years from now, there’s going to be only “buttered popcorns” left. I’m also pickier about specifically taking crackers that aren’t broken. A serving is 7 crackers. I’m not doing mini cracker jigsaw puzzles to figure out seven crackers.
So it’s smarter to just avoid certain foods. I’ve also been trying to be super antisocial lately, not only because I want people to not see me for a while so that when they do, they’ll go, “Whoa! Have you lost 3 ½ pounds?” but also because when I have guests, I tend to make good food that I can’t stay away from.
But there are definitely certain realizations I came to, spending all this time counting calories. One thing I realized is that I eat way too often. I also realized that a lot of calorie counts are not intuitive. For example, French fries are only like four calories. Each. On the other hand, one French fry doesn’t take you very far, because you end up with leftover ketchup, so you take more fries, and then you have leftover fries, so you take more ketchup, and so on. That’s why I lick my plates now. I’m licking everything—I’m licking the scale, eating the paper towels… For example, today I measured out exactly one cup of soup. Then I poured the soup into a bowl, and a lot of the soup stayed on the sides of the measuring cup. Then I ate the soup out of the bowl, and some of the soup stayed on the sides of the bowl. And this is all food I measured and am counting calories for. There’s no way I’m not going to lick that bowl.
This is another reason we don’t have guests.
I also find that I need to focus on the positive—the things I can do to make the diet easier so I don’t just up and quit. Like how I get to eat a lot of soup.
Another thing that I get to eat a lot of is pickles. Pickles are 5 calories each. I could eat over 300 pickles a day, if I eat nothing else. On the other hand, I have high blood pressure. On the other hand, maybe if I lose the weight, I won’t. On the other hand, I haven’t lost the weight yet.
There are also some non-food techniques for dieting. For example, you can just keep brushing your teeth. Brush 20-30 times a day. You’re not eating anything after you brush. It’s disgusting. Dentists say to brush after every meal, but I say to brush before every meal. Option #2, is to go in the opposite direction—never brush at all and let your teeth rot so it hurts to eat certain things. And then you’ll have horrible breath, people will stay away, and you can be as antisocial as you want. It’s a win-win!
But the biggest key, I would say, is that if you want to diet successfully, it has to be after your wife does it. She has to establish a precedent that it’s okay to not eat everything and still not be insulting whoever made it. And then you can do it. So if you want to do this, my advice is to try to get her to diet before you do. That should be easy. Either she’ll diet, or she’ll get insulted and stop feeding you altogether. And if she does that, it’ll be easier to diet. You can always apologize when you’re down to your goal weight.
By Mordechai Schmutter