How I figured out I had to go on a diet from my diet

My midriff was expanding as my will power seemed to be shrinking when I was in my late 30s. I couldn't figure it out. I was eating healthily, after all, but I had no system of accountability.  I naively believed at the time that if I was eating the right foods everything else would fall into pretty places instead of spilling over the sides of my jeans.

I decided that I would attack the problem the American way: I'd go on a diet which meant eating lots of highly processed diet foods and "treats." I'll never forget the moment, so evil in retrospect but seemed like magic at the time, that I believed that it would be GOOD for me to start eating sugar and other ingredients I had shunned for so long. After all, I had gained weight eating "right," so how could I go wrong? I would be eating diet foods in low-cal portions! Piece of cake!

That was the beginning of very big bottom that started with small little packages, particularly frozen treats. They seemed so innocuous with all of the pretty promises on the boxes of being skinny. Problem was, I couldn't have just one. It seemed that the more I ate, the more I craved and caved. And it was the "meals," too. Lunches and dinners comprised of tiny portions of heavily processed foods left me feeling hungry. It caused a lot of anxiety for me because I thought I wasn't trying hard enough. I was gaining weight on my diet! This cycle went on for a few years.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I reached a point where I had to go on a diet from my diet.

It was only when I started eating healthy portions of real foods devoid of addictive ingredients while paying attention to the figures that I began to experience success. Counting calories seemed so antiquated but that was when I realized that word had gotten a bad rap. Going retro was the new and improved way!

I had to learn how many calories my body burned on a daily basis and the only way I was able to do that was to record it all, and I mean everything I ate, over a period of time in I learned that any time I was eating ready-made diet foods or restricted my calorie intake by too much I would end up consuming more calories in the long run. The former was full of empty calories that fueled an insatiable appetite while the latter left me feeling lethargic and not in the mood to move more. I had to find the right balance for me, and that had to be based on numbers and facts, not wishful thinking.

Currently in year four of my 1950s "diet" of real food, moving more daily and accountability I'm maintaining my weight loss of sixteen pounds. Every year it gets easier instead of harder. Recording my calories is no more difficult than brushing and flossing daily!

What's your experience with processed "diet" foods? Have you experienced  prolonged success with them?


  1. Averyl, I too detest diet foods. When I was in my 20's I tried losing weight by eating a Lean Cuisine for lunch and dinner and cereal for breakfast with 2 fruits a day for snacks. Sounds reasonable, right? Well it lasted 2 days because I was starving and hated the food. I ended up giving the rest of the frozen meals to a food pantry and went back to my regular diet but ate less. Because I was in my 20's this worked well. Now I'm in my mid-40's and I'm finding that calorie counting is more helpful. I no longer only have healthy choices in my house (a hubby and kids have their say in our grocery shopping) so I need the accountability. Like today I made chocolate chip cookies for the family. I had a couple- they were great! But I knew I needed to "spend" less calories later in the day so I had a salad with grilled chicken for dinner. No guessing or saying to myself the cookies didn't count. There it was for me to see and not feel bad about as I can control what I eat.

    I've used Fitday before but I bought a pedometer that I can download the info to my computer and record my food so I can adjust my food intake based on my activity level. It's a modern device to use a retro dieting method, tracking calories!

    Have a great weekend.

    Sarah H.

    1. Hey, that sounds like a cool gizmo! What is the name of it? I'd like to check it out!

      What you describe as far as accountability with occasional indulgences is what was referred to as "scientific nibbling" in the 50s.

      Thanks for sharing that, Sarah, and have a good weekend as well!

  2. I am a retired Pulmonary Function Teechican who is a male I happened on your site while researching predicted test values. One of the test performed by PFT's is a test called Indirect Caloimetry. The test is very simple a mask or hood is placed over the patient who lies on a strecher and rest for a period of 20-30 min. at the end calulations figure your daily calorie comsumption, it is used more for failure to thrive then for treatment of obesity. I agree with you that BMI is a false sense of diagnosis, values I used for 40 years were taken from a study of 25-30 healthy males and made to fit both male and females.
    As to woman not getting fat in the the fifty's may be true but I think the late 50's early 60's were when everyone's weights started to change and not for the better. It was during that time that my mother and her freinds started to gain weight. I remember the day she hit 170 on a 5'5" and today that is almost the norm rather then the exception.

    1. Thanks for sharing that info, I had never heard of that test before. I wonder if when the change to BMI took place if there were many skeptics in the medical profession...

    2. It wasn't until near the end of my career that I found out on what our predicteds were based on.

  3. Averyl, the pedometer is a Fitbit Zip. I bought it at Target on the recommendation of my doctor.


  4. Averyl,

    Personally, and I am not quite sure how to say this so it makes sense, but it wasn't honest. The calories in the processed Diet Foods did not or could not "feed" me. I didn't realize until after changing the way I ate, but when I ate "Diet Food" it was just bad news all around. I was cranky, hungry, I'd binge on anything. Turns out that eating that food made me continue to make poor choices.

    Once I started making all my food, a.k.a. eating as they did in the 1950's, I finally felt satisfied with a "proper portion size", felt fed, happy, and on the right track. Closing in on a 50 pound loss, I am so happy I did it this way.

    Granted I didn't grow up in the 1950's, rather the 1970's but our grocery stores were nothing like they are today. Pulling out my mom's old cookbooks and seeing the "meals" they put together was eye opening. How far meat can stretch! Yes, a pound of meat served 8. Yes, sliced tomatoes are a lovely side dish, etc. All quite fascinating!


    1. Hi Amy,

      "Honest" makes complete sense to me! Honest food doesn't need flavor enhancers, added vitamins or chemical additives.

      I, too, find so many of the old cookbooks and ways of not even that long ago fascinating. I'm even more fascinated by how so many of us got bamboozled into accepting the new "normal" when it comes to eating.

      As for fifty pounds- wow! Congratulations!!

    2. It's taken me about three years to do it, but I haven't missed a darn thing, worked out like a fiend or tricked my body into the loss. It's a great feeling. Thank you!


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