“When was the last time you took a good look at your gut” shouted out one of his buddies as Jason, my friend, approached the first hole. The rest joined in on the banter, patting his belly and making jokes to the tune of, “we didn’t know you got hitched—where’ve you been hiding her?”
Jason suddenly realized he was sporting what Canadians refer to as the “Molson Muscle,” and quickly contacted me for some dieting pointers. After three days of monitoring Jason’s eating habits, I realized that like most men I know he was clueless about portion control, food groups, and meal planning.
Jason’s lack of knowledge didn’t come as a surprise—90 percent of diet programs and foods are targeted entirely towards women. And since Atkins left the scene, no others have been able to tackle the male market with as much impact. Weight Watchers, quite possibly the most sensible diet plan, is giving it a go but their Points System is too intricate and time consuming for most men I know.
I decided it was time to dummy down some of the basic dieting principles I learned while working in the industry and through my observations of men—from colleagues at work to the men I’ve “dated.”
1. When it comes to Food, Size Matters
I hate to be the harbinger of bad news, but an average bagel is equal to six pieces of bread; a 16-ounce steak contains four servings of protein and a happy meal is hardly a late afternoon snack. Portion control is the number one problem for men, so if you want to make any progress you must get a handle on the amount of food you eat.
2. Ketchup is Not a Vegetable
The calories, sugar and fat in condiments count and can creep up on you. And yes, Caesar Salad and Blue Cheese dressing drizzled over greens can make the difference in your weight loss efforts. Stick to good for you oils and natural fats from vegetables such as avocado, and limit mayo, ketchup, barbeque, and other dipping sauces and dressings to 2 – 3 tablespoons a day. If you want a condiment, try mustard or red wine vinegar.
3. Neither are French fries
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and beans, even in their purest forms, count as carbohydrates. Half of a cup is a portion minus the add-ins/ons. Just the same, those good-for-you vegetables like spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and string beans are essentially guilt-free, but not if they are battered or loaded up with creams, cheese and other rich sauces.
4. It’s a Fork, not a Backhoe
American dining etiquette dictates that the fork be put down on the plate in between bites while chewing. From a dieting perspective this also makes sense. Placing a reasonable amount of food on your fork and putting it down between bites will force you to eat more slowly, and in turn give your body enough time to feel satiated before you go into a food coma.
5. A Liquid May be Clear but that Doesn’t Make it Water
This goes for vodka, tequila, white rum, white wine and other alcoholic beverages. You’re supposed to have eight glasses of water a day to keep your hunger under control and flush out toxins as well as fat. Alcohol has just the opposite effect, too much of it will cause out of control eating!
6. If You Eat Standing, Your Feet Will Get Fat
Okay, we may be stretching the truth on this one but the foods you eat while grazing are serious. To promote mindful eating, sit down to enjoy your meals and snacks, rather than raiding the fridge or standing over the sink in a semi-conscious state, no matter how ravenous, drunk or tired you may be.
7. You Don’t Have to Clean Everyone’s Plate, Not Even Your Own
From when you were little to when you were a growing teenager, you were constantly admonished to clean your plate. But chances are you’re way past the growth spurt stage, so you won’t be sent to your room for leaving a few extra chicken wings in the basket!
8. Speed Eating is Not a Competitive Sport
There are sports and then there are sports. And as far as your weight loss efforts are concerned, the Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog eating contest is not one of them. You’re an adult … you can dine, you can eat, but you need to get past the gorging thing, as the consequences are too apparent on your waistline.
9. Your Real Weight is the Number on the Scale Before the Game, Not After You’ve Just Played It
Seriously guys, you can lose 6 pounds simply by sweating on the courts. If you want an accurate measure of your weight, step onto the scale without those high tops first thing in the morning.
10. There are Plenty of Other Fish in the Sea that are Just as Good for You
Why wait to go deep sea fishing with the boys when you can reap the benefits of fresh fish everyday. Working fish into your diet, even just a little, can’t be that hard. Plus you get the heart healthy benefits of Omega3 fatty acids.
Originally published on SingleEdition