How Often Do We Need to Eat?
By Lambeth Hochwald
EATING THREE TIMES A DAY
The Day in Food
Breakfast: Toasted wheat bread with butter (the real stuff!) and jelly
Lunch: Grilled chicken breast with a dip of mixed mayonnaise and horseradish sauce, mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, dark chocolate
Dinner: Broiled steak with spinach, dark chocolate
The diet: The French Don't Diet Plan, by Will Clower, Ph.D.
The theory: Eat three leisurely, unprocessed meals a day even "forbidden" foods like butter, cheese, and bread. The thinking is that the flavors satisfy you, leading you to reject the taste of processed foods. Clower also believes that when you allow yourself fat in moderation, you get its benefits without the health risks that come with consuming it in excess. By savoring meals, you'll eat less because you'll feel satisfied. And by finishing your meal with a rich "ender," like dark chocolate, you'll stave off snacking urges.
Tester: Aziza Johnson, 28, publicist
In one month, she lost: 10 pounds
Eating three meals a day was a psychological challenge at first: Knowing I couldn't eat between meals automatically made me want to snack, and knowing I couldn't eat processed foods made me crave them. I would see a cake in a store window and want to buy it and eat it even though I've never really liked cake all that much.
But when I started changing what went into my grocery cart, avoiding processed foods (including those 100-calorie bags of Oreos I used to buy) and filling up on fresh ingredients, I realized how good fruits and vegetables are and how much better it tastes when you prepare your own piece of fish or steak. And it was nice to be on a program that allows you to butter your toast and even use jelly (as long as it's 100-percent fruit). After the first week, I wasn't hungry between meals anymore. But at first, I had to conquer in-between-meal cravings with sheer willpower. The trouble was, with my schedule, cooking was tough: When I did have the time, I didn't always have the right ingredients on hand. One night, I wanted to make a macaroni and biscuits recipe from the book, but it was already 8:30 p.m., my milk had gone bad, and I didn't want to go out to the store. I didn't really have anything else in the house, so I ate toast for dinner that night.
Another tenet of the diet, eating in a leisurely manner, was hard: Taking my time, chewing, and enjoying the food was unrealistic when I was really busy at work and felt like I needed to rush to get back to what I was doing. And when I did savor a meal, it didn't make a difference in terms of my feeling more or less hungry later.
Probably what worked best for me was the "ender." Clower says that having a piece of cheese or dark chocolate at the end of a meal creates a mental association between being finished and feeling satisfied. For me, the chocolate was like a gift I gave to myself as a reward for eating a healthy meal.
You would think a diet that encourages rich foods would be easy to follow, but weekends were hard. I sleep in these days and hardly ever eat breakfast, so fitting in three meals wasn't easy. I also went to a baby shower one weekend, where I ate cake and cookies and had a Coke. The diet does allow you to indulge, but I definitely overdid it that day.
As liberal as this diet is, it was challenging to stick to. Still, I lost 10 pounds in less than a month, and I would consider staying on it: Even though I had to control portions, I could eat many of my favorite foods and it worked!