This could be your diet lunch!
Jenna F. asks: How the hell do you stay so skinny doing the job that you do?
Dear Jenna: Glad you asked that. Actually, I’m not quite as skinny as you might think. It’s partly a matter of wearing flattering, billowy clothes. If I could get by wearing a caftan all the time, I would. Anyway, nobody trusts a really skinny restaurant critic.
But I’ve lost 10 pounds the last few months, the way the experts tell you to: very gradually.
And I have a bunch of tricks up my sleeve. I tell myself I invented some of them, and should really write a diet book, but someone has probably already thought of them all before. I urge anyone who wants to try the Sietsema Diet to adopt their own version of The Rules listed below.
1. Always be careful the way you plate food, whether you’ve carried it out or are making it yourself. Use the smallest plates possible that still look like plates and not saucers. A small plate makes a small serving look like a big serving, and you’ll be more satisfied with your portion. A pork chop and pile of vegetables will fill up a small plate, while the same serving will look meager on a large plate. Appearance is everything.
2. Pick foods to eliminate entirely from your daily diet. And I don’t mean carbs or fats. I gave up sodas and all sugar-containing beverages, and won’t drink orange juice or a Coke. Ever. Part of this attitude comes from the realization that you don’t get much nutrition from juice. We all get enough vitamin C, so a glass of orange juice is really just sugar and water. Sugary beverages represent huge intakes of calories for most people, especially since they often occur in “Big Gulp” sizes. Get used to drinking plain tap water or club soda. And give up no-cal sodas, too. Current research suggests they screw with your metabolism and make you even hungrier.
3. Designate certain meals as diet meals, in which you will intake fewer calories. Then make those meals seem extra special. If you’re making the meal, go out of your way to get extra-special ingredients. For example, make a spectacular Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes from the farmers’ market, fresh basil, and buffalo milk mozzarella. Your calorie intake will be low, but your satisfaction high. And make sure you expend the maximum amount of energy in preparing or acquiring the meal. If you want a banh-mi sandwich, get on your bike and ride to get one from the farthest possible source, or take the subway to Midtown and subsist for one meal on a pair of sliders that you particularly like.
4. Keep a supply of low-calorie snacks, things to munch on that you can eat in nearly unlimited quantity. You can down a lot of watermelon before you run through many calories, and vegetables such as celery, cucumbers, carrots, and fresh chiles provide a satisfying crunch and a feeling of fullness with amazingly few calories.
5. A corollary to No. 4: I love to drink club soda, so I bought one of those machines and now I drink it all the time. It gives me a feeling of fullness from the bubbles, is fun to drink, and keeps you well hydrated.
6. Don’t be afraid to eat nontraditional meals. While french fries don’t seem like a low-calorie foodstuff, a modest serving is massively filling, and the calorie count is much lower than traditional meals. They have plenty of salt, too, which is satisfying in itself. As long as your mother isn’t around to scold you, a french-fry lunch is great fun, and an ample serving can run 300 to 400 calories. And you certainly don’t need the hamburger and soft drink that usually go with it — the fries are the best part of the fast-food meal, anyway.
7. Finally, never keep certain foods in your apartment. For me, that includes chocolate, potato chips, ice cream, and cookies. If you feel the need for one of these, make yourself go outside to get them, requiring a formidable exertion. Chances are, if it’s late in the evening, you’ll decide to settle for a piece of fruit, toast with honey, or a bowl of cereal instead.
8. Weigh yourself naked every morning at the same time. Your weight will fluctuate by about five pounds depending on when you last pooped, but if you average a week of weighings, you’ll get a clear picture of the weight you’re losing.
And here are the most important rules:
9. Never eat anything that’s not delicious.
10. Try to stop eating any particular dish when you’ve had the last completely satisfying bite. For example, I stop enjoying ice cream after four or five bites. My mouth feels numb, and I can’t really taste the ice cream anymore. Time to hand that cone over to someone standing next to you. “Big” never means “good.” Well, usually never.