Your Diet, Your Way

When asked about my weight loss, most people ask the same question.  ‘How have you managed to keep it off?’ 

It sure seems a lot easier for some than for others.  I know of people who were able to let go of most every bad habit they had when they were heavy and never look back.  Talk about transformation!  Then there are others who, like me, fight a daily battle trying to keep their weight at a healthy level.  

I actually ended up stumbling upon a combination of tips that worked for me which helped shed my weight.  One of those things was focusing a lot of energy on calories. I’d hit the grocery store isles looking at nutritional values of every food I could think of and read about how big the serving sizes were in comparison to the number of calories per serving. If I wasn’t comfortable with the calorie to portion ratio, I’d set the item back onto the shelf and keep moving. If I had to choose between two foods in the same category, it was a no-brainer: the one with the least amount of calories and bigger portion size ended up in my cart.  Eating this way worked (and still works) for me.  It’s not that I can’t indulge.  I most certainly can, and do.  But overall, I still look at my food somewhat differently than the people I talk to.


I still browse weight loss forums and always seem to find two groups of people who are dieting.  Group One always seems to focus more on the food, with calories being second in priority. They rarely compromise when it comes to their food, either. They eat for the taste not the calories; they just compensate by eating less. They are good at moderating, too.

Group Two looks like the camp to which I seem to belong:  they look at calorie count and serving size.  When presented with two options, they almost always pick the food that has the fewest calories and the biggest portion.  They focus more on eating for fuel than feeling satisfied, and like the feeling of fullness when walking away from the table.

Group One people have a hard time understanding why anyone would sacrifice taste in order to feel full.  When I tried to explain why I was a Group Two camper, one woman asked, ‘but let’s say that you could choose between two bowls of popcorn that had the same calorie count.  One bowl had 5 cups to a serving, but it tasted fairly bland.  In the other bowl however, the serving size was only 1 1/2 cups but, it was yummy and buttery and totally satisfying.  Are you telling me that you would rather go with the cardboard-tasting popcorn than the buttery, flavorful popcorn just because you could eat more?’  

What can I say?  If I were dieting with a goal to lose a certain amount of weight -  Yes, I would.  I have.  When I told her this, she could not wrap her head around that concept.  At all.   

Her response was, ‘Eating that way to me, just makes it seem like you’re punishing yourself.’   I told her I didn’t feel that way at all.  I simply got used to a certain way of eating and after a while, became used to the way my food tasted.  I tried to explain to her that while she got satisfaction from eating food that exploded with flavor, I got satisfaction from the freedom of knowing that I wouldn’t be left yearning for more when I was done. I could eat until I was full.   She still didn’t get my point but that was okay, because honestly – I couldn’t really understand where she was coming from, either. I mean, how can a person stop at one and a half cups of buttered popcorn?  I’d just be getting started. 

I should point out here that this method doesn’t come without its faults.  Sometimes when I have a big craving, I’ll try my method of substituting and end up completely unsatisfied.  Then I’ll roam around the kitchen trying to find the one ‘healthy, low-cal’ item that I hope will curb that craving.  Before I know it, I’ve eaten more calories than I would have if I’d just eaten what I really wanted in the first place.  I’ve learned that during those times it’s best to just eat the piece of cake or baked potato with real sour cream and butter and be done with it. 

This just goes to show that it is so true what they say about not comparing yourself to other dieters.  There is no perfect method;  what works for one person may be completely and totally wrong for you.  And if you’re unhappy with the results you’re having on your diet, try something different.  You’ll eventually find what works for you and the result will be as remarkably unique as you are. 

Am I standing alone in camp Number Two?  Have any of you eaten this way?  What group do you fall into?  

17 thoughts on “Your Diet, Your Way

  1. Jill

    I am with you in camp number 2!!! I have always said I am a quantity eater- not a quality eater. I feel nervous or anxious if I don’t feel like there is “enough” food in front of me. I like to eat things that take a long time to eat. I must like the act of eating itself- like the popcorn. I would rather have the 5 cups so I could eat longer. I TOTALLY understand.

  2. Sharon

    Oh yeah, I’m totally with you in camp #2!! But I’ve learned a few things along the way. Used to, I would eat a whole box of Triscuits mid-afternoon knowing that was IT for the remainder of the day. Some days, it was a bag of chips. Other days, it was a bag of M and M’s. But it’s what I wanted and was within the day’s calorie budget. Never understood why I was hungry again almost immediately, but forced myself to not eat since I’d had my calories. And I lost weight!!!

    Now that I fully understand how carb sensitive I am, it all makes sense. And now that I am off those types of foods, any and all cravings are GONE, GONE, GONE!

    But I am still totally in camp 2 with you, and the wonderful thing is that now, I eat, eat, eat all the time with foods that do satisfy and leaving me full for hours at a time. Huge amounts of the right kinds of food. Still the same calorie budget, delicious foods that I crave and ZERO cravings for the things I used to “treat” myself with. Technically, I no longer count calories (on the 17DD), but it’s so engrained in me from so many years that I do it without thinking.

    I never believed this could be true and no one else will either until they experience it for themselves! Yes, calories DO count, but I’ll take quantity any day of the week!

    Great post – sorry for the long comment! Should make for some interesting debate. Can’t wait to read all comments.

  3. Karen@WaistingTime

    I agree that we each need to find what works for us. When I did Weight Watchers years ago, I focused so much on finding low point foods, regardless of the nutritional value. It was about eating the most I could. But I have changed over time and now I realize that for me, all calories are not created equal. They seem to impact me differently, either actually or in my head. That said, when I am choosing something I do compare calories… like if I have two cartons of fat-free ricotta cheese in my hand:) BTW – we have almond milk in our fridge too!

  4. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    I think I’m Group 3 (it’s lonely over here), which kind of straddles the line of G1 & G2. I do try to get the most bang for my caloric buck, but I also focus on the nutritional aspects of foods. Using your popcorn example, if I have a choice between 3 cups of air-popped, which is tasty and nutritious but lacking that rich, buttery flavor, or 1 cup of microwaved, less nutritious because of the added rich, buttery flavor, I’m going to choose air-popped. I sacrifice a little (lot) of flavor for nutrition. But then there are some things, like eggs or cupcakes, that I’m not going to substitute. Or the odd day when I decide to plop a pat of butter on top of my air-popped corn.

    It’s hard to explain, but it works for me. And that is what I discovered IS the perfect plan: eating (mostly) healthy foods I enjoy in a way that satisfies and ensures that I will do it most of the time. (With most being 90-95%, not 51%.)

  5. Caron

    I’m with you as well. I will almost always choose to have huge portions of vegetables with lower calories rather than a tiny amount of fried food or pasta. It certainly helps that I love my veggies. :)

  6. Jenn @ Cooking Aweigh the Pounds

    Add another member to Team Camp #2! Well, maybe Camp 2 1/4. I don’t mind the full fat stuff (from time to time) because it does taste so much better and the higher calories are worth it to me because the alternatives are gross. (Like peanut butter!) I give myself a small serving of White Chocolate Wonderful and am thankful that I can regulate myself! But most of the time, I’ll take the lower calorie option so I can have more. (Hello, bread!)

    I have a friend in Camp #1 and it totally works for her. She’s doing awesome with it, but I personally have no idea how! She has fried chicken, but just eats less. She has a giant bag of peanut butter cups in her house, but she just eats less. I mean, how on earth does someone eat less of peanut butter cups??? Doesn’t matter how big that bag is, it’s only one serving for me!

  7. didi

    I am certainly not in camp #2, but for years I tried to force myself into it, and that’s where a lot of my troubles with dieting came from. Forcing a way that is foreign is a bad idea, and I think that’s why many people have a hard time finding an eating style that they physically balance with.
    If I was craving something I would eat a bunch of other low cal things to try to make the craving go away. In the end I’d be scarfing down half of the kitchen, and eating way more than I needed to.
    I’ve figured out that I need to focus on balanced nutrition, staying active, and eating a little bit of the foods that I really adore. When I attempt to stay away from “bad foods” it triggers binge eating. I’d be the girl that ate all that bland popcorn, wasn’t satisfied, and went back for the buttery popcorn.
    Now I have taught myself to eat vegetables and salad first if I want a nibble of something fatty. And I have also taken to walking after meals. If I want to eat ice cream (I do I do I do!) then I have to walk for an hour. Lately I have turned every walk into a birding marathon, and apparently that was the key to tricking my brain into wanting to take walks all the time.
    It is so important for individuals to figure out what works best for them, and then stick to it. For many, eating a little bit of fried or fatty foods would end up turning into a binge-a-thon.

  8. KCLAnderson (Karen)

    Yep…I’m with Cammy in Group 3. I don’t like “either/or” scenarios…I’m much more comfortable with “both/and.” I also find that a lot of times it has to do with the specific food. In the popcorn example, I’d rather have the blander version, but not because I want more bulk, but because I don’t like the buttery kind (now…if it were Smartfood, that would be a whole ‘nother conversation).

    I find that satiety (versus fullness) is the key, and satiety is made up of bulk, flavor, and nutrition.

  9. munchberry

    LOL. No there is no perfect method for sure! The people who say they could not eat the cardboard popcorn may drink diet soda. Some places you can compromise, others you cannot.

    I like a plate of food most days, but I guess if I really wanted something well – something’s godda give in return. THAT was something I refused to acknowledge before. All sorts of takes and no give make Munchberry a fat girl.

  10. teresa

    it’s so interesting that you’ve broken it down like that. I think I’m a bit in both camps. I’m, sure you wouldn’t eat things that don’t taste good at all… I can really enjoy lettuce, so I can make huge salads and get that nice quantity thing going. It’s not the most exciting taste but I do enjoy it.
    I’ve also done that thing you describe about eating so much while trying NOT to eat the one thing you really want. Then you discover that no amount of vegetables equals chocolate.
    Great post.

  11. Cindy

    I think I’m 50-50 on this. For example, I might make a huge spinach and fresh veggie salad (quantity) for lunch topped with a large amount of homemade blue cheese dressing (quality) that has 150-200 calories for the amount I use. I could probably thin out the dressing and use it over 2 salads, but it’s incredibly satisfying as is. Finding this balance has really made a difference for me.

  12. Marsial

    I’m mostly with Cammy and Karen (KCL) in group 3 — I don’t want to sacrifice taste, but there are some sort of bland foods I enjoy munching on — like lettuce. I no longer care to eat larger quantities of food at a time, but I’ve gained quite a bit of weight back just by nibbling throughout the day on fruit and nuts. Recently I’ve switched back to lettuce and cucumbers for my treats, so I hope to start seeing those pounds disappear again.

    I have to say, Ellen, that I am really impressed that you have kept your weight off for many years. When I started losing 2 years ago, I really believed that I would never again gain back more than 4 or 5 pounds….I would have bet on it. And I would have lost. But I’m not giving up. Keep sharing your tips for long-term loss!

  13. Carrie @ Season It Already!

    I think I’m in a little bit of both camps. I do what you do with items I buy at the grocery store – is the food worth it if it’s a small portion and huge calories? But when it comes to dining out, I’m all about Quality over Quantity. I even wrote a post about it!

    However, I completely agree with you that we all have to find what works best for us.

  14. Laura @ LauraLivesLife

    I definitely WAS in camp two, and I still might be – but I’m trying to work my way to camp one. I really REALLY want to live life someday without thinking about food and adding calories all day long (and even deeming my daily success or failure according to the number)!

  15. chrissy

    I love that you wrote this! I am definitly in camp 2! I have lost 80 pounds and I still suck when it comes to portion control! I would much rather eat more with less flavor then less food that is full of flavor mostly because I wouldn’t just eat a little! I keep hoping that as I continue to lose weight I will get better at portion control and feeling full with less food however that hasn’t happened yet! Anyway….thanks so much for writing this because it is always interesting to hear what works for everyone else!

  16. Goodnuff

    The first thought that popped in my head is: I eat the foods from G1 like I’m on a G2 kind of plan. Minus the moderation and calorie counting. My second thought was: No, really, I eat the foods from G1 like I’m on a G2 kind of plan. Minus the moderation and calorie counting. Over the last 2 years though I have made some small changes for the better and much like Munch, there are just some truths I need to accept. Like if I want to lose weight or maintain my loss I can’t eat all of the rich, flavorful, calorie laden foods I want.


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