UNITED STATES—On our rash plan to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, there are strict habits to adhere to. Make them indestructible habits. The deciding difference, the pivotal factor to achieving this weight loss successfully in this short span, is unilateral adherence to the regimen, which consists of:
-- Pre-breakfast stretches and breathing (20 min.)
-- Fruit for the first five hours of the day
-- Lots of fruits and veggies thereafter
-- Stick to meal- and snack times
-- No bread and starchy derivatives
-- No added sugar
-- No milk and dairy derivatives
-- No eating three hours before sleep
There are an awful lot of no’s on that list—which makes it look more like a doomed conventional “diet”—so let’s reiterate and celebrate what gets a yes in the 30-day plan. Fruit in the morning, whatever you like, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, grapefruit, papaya or watermelon, you name it. After midday, meals will consist of lots of veggies, and one additional dish in addition to veggies.
Make it one simple dish, given our fresh food template. The choice is pretty much going to be meat or veggie soup; beans, lentils or eggs. That’s the core menu. Oh yeah, don’t forget nuts—the walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts or walnuts, almonds.
Make these foods habitual, delectable and desirable. See each new day as a chance to improve and strengthen your habits. And what better way imaginable to do this than to be invited to an All-American, all-you-can-eat buffet? It’s the Grady challenge. We’re living in the real world and for a true sense of how ingrained new habits are, and given the valuable social dimension of dining together, go for it. Just say yes!
The over-the-top, all-you-can eat dance poses unique challenges for someone on the rigorous 30-day plan. I embraced the opportunity to test myself last Friday when I got invited to Souplantation. Granted, it’s more appealing than Taco Bell—because of the soup and salad bias; however, if there were truth in nomenclature this eatery would be called “Pasta and Desserts.”
It is jammed with steaming vats of macaroni and cheese, penne pasta, pizza, and French bread and whole wheat bread. Soft ice cream spigots out of an endless machine, and there are strawberry jam toppings and chocolate syrup. And apple cobbler, too! You get the idea. All that stuff is off the 30-day plan (after 30 days is reached, we’ll talk about the more moderate lifetime plan to lighten up). You know what took the dessert bar right out of my consciousness? Purple table grapes on their stems, chilled and fresh. That treat was waiting for me at the end of this obscenely abundant smorgasbord.
That, more than anything, is the key to making this type of buffet a really pleasurable experience: tune out all the extraneous food enticements. Grossly simplify the situation; focus on what works within our food template, predominantly raw fresh, natural, and easily digested food, and kindle the same expectations for it that you might have, in the past, for a breakfast burrito.
I love this quote from Zorba the Greek: “How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little grill, the sound of the sea. . .” And this certainly applies to happiness in food choices.
So within the plethora soup choices I quickly limited the choices to one: onion soup. The broth was flavorful, the onions soft and sweet, and I could have as much as I liked. The elaborate cream chowders and tomato bisques, on the other hand, were out, as was the pasta minestrone. The simple clear choice of the onion broth was left and I could go to town on adding diced onion shoots or jalapeÃ±o garnish.
It’s amazing how the head clears when choices are limited, paying laser attention to what works in our eating plan and bringing only appropriate foods to our plate.
As for the quarter-mile-long salad bar, you can go back multiple times and build a different style of salad. I have made eccentric salads with a non-green-leaf base, all celery and olives, or garbanzo beans and beets. On the other hand, the dressing-drenched Cesar salad with croutons and the Chinese salad complimented with crispy fried-noodle bits are off the 30-day menu. Also show yourself some love and remember to give the salad a beautiful presentation to offset the sloppiness of the hog-out experience. Circle the plate with broccoli florets and cucumber slices, for example, so the plate looks well-arranged and colorful, mingling the purple of cabbage and olives and beets, the bright orange of bell peppers and the bright red of cherry tomatoes.
Embrace the fruit and vegetable ambrosia when at an all-you-can-eat buffet; skip the pasta and pizza, bread and wheat derivatives. The best place for bread, I believe, is your wallet.
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” now on Amazon Kindle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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