Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Few "No" Diets

In my last post, I told Fred Schenck's weight loss story. His "avoid the whites" eating plan was a do-it-yourself project. Yet this is a commonly used approach to weight loss, actually. Probably the most popular of these plans is  Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet

Dr. Gott is a retired physician and syndicated newspaper columnist who for many years has urged patients and readers to try his approach to weight loss. As with many of the home remedies he champions—Vicks VapoRub for toenail infections, bars of soap under the sheets for restless leg syndrome—Dr. Gott’s diet is simple and inexpensive. You need not count anything, but you must read labels. If flour or sugar is there, it's off limits.

The plan's simplicity is appealing: “It is a wonderful diet that was easy for me to follow,” says Joan Petrillo, who lives in the next town over from me and used it to lose 20 pounds.

In Dr. Gott's plan, though, avoiding flour means not just white flour, but any kind of flour, including rice, wheat or corn. Sugars on the banned list include cane sugar, glucose, sucrose, beet sugar, honey, maple syrup, high fructose corn syrup and molasses.

Dr. Gott replaces these foods with whole grains such as brown rice, and starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes; and for sweets, fruits and sugar substitutes. In addition, he includes lean meats, legumes, low-fat dairy products and fresh vegetables, emphasizing nutrient-dense foods that satisfy hunger.

The whole idea of this grand switch is to cut your daily calorie intake. "The key to weight loss is simply to burn more calories than you take in," he says. "I have found, and my patients’ successes have verified, that eliminating flour and sugar from your diet is a simple way to cut calories instantly. "

In my next post, though, I'll talk about two camps of weight loss: those who totally avoid certain foods (like Dr. Gott) and those who swear by moderation. I've had comments from people who believe moderation is the way to go, because they see it as an approach they can maintain for life. Others, though, find success only through avoiding their "addictive" foods. Both approaches can work!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fred Schenck: "Avoid the whites"

Fred Schenck, a retired human resources executive for Cunard Line, was cruising along in retirement.

He had enjoyed a high-profile career working for Donald Trump, New York City mayor David Dinkins and the Kennedy administration. Yet now, Fred was enjoying his life on the West Coast of Florida. An avid golfer, he and his wife Quinta also liked to travel, particularly enjoying—what else?—cruises.

So, he was a bit dismissive a few years ago when his doctor suggested that to lower his blood pressure, Fred should take off some weight.

“I ignored him,” Fred admits. “I was married to Mrs. Haagen Dazs and I couldn’t see myself changing. I just thought that high blood pressure was a fairly typical complaint.”

At 5-foot, 10-inches, Fred’s top weight was 228 pounds. He dealt with the situation by making sure his clothes fit well and flattered his frame. Yet even his tailor had something to say. “He'd tell me, ‘Schenck, take off the weight,’” Fred says. But still, he thought nothing of downing a half pint of ice cream every night.

Fred’s penchant for sweets had its roots in childhood. “There was a drugstore on my newspaper route," he recalls. "Every time I earned an extra 35 or 40 cents, I’d stop at the soda fountain for ice cream sodas or milk shakes.”

As Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for President Kennedy, Fred mingled in the Beltway’s social circles. And, his career in high-end leisure and travel businesses did nothing to curb his appetites. “In the hotel business I had free reign in five different restaurants. I could eat anything at any time,” Fred says. “You develop bad habits that way.”

In March 2007, Fred’s doctor spoke up again. Fred’s glucose levels indicated that he might be developing diabetes. This time, Fred listened.

At his then-current weight of 216 pounds, not only did Fred “divorce Mrs. Haagen Dazs,” but he went a step further. Humorously, he calls his approach “avoiding the whites.” Here’s what disappeared from his diet: white flour, white rice, sugar and some dairy. It took a little re-education. After all, Fred reasoned, isn’t “enriched flour” good for you?

Fred and his wife substituted higher fiber, whole grain “brown” products—brown rice and whole wheat flour. Fortunately, Quinta enjoys cooking this way. “She loves these kinds of challenges,” Fred says.

And, Fred curbed his appetite for sweets. “We have a number of lovely candy dishes, and they’re all empty,” Fred notes, with both pride and wistfulness. In addition, Fred began to walk in his golf community 40 to 45 minutes a day.

Over eight months, Fred brought his weight down to 188 pounds and lost two inches off his waist. “I made my tailor happy,” Fred says. “I sent two jackets back to have them altered for my new size.”

Not only that, but by grounding his diet in high-fiber whole grains, he has moderated the sugar rushes of white flour and sugar. He takes a low dose of blood pressure medication, but his doctor hasn’t mentioned diabetes again.

These days, Fred gets his rushes from a different source—compliments. “I was at a function recently and someone said to me, ‘Fred, you look 15 years younger,'” he says. “That feels good. ”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good Will shopping

Ha! Here I thought my sister would take all the clothes I no longer fit since losing weight. Of the five dresses and eight pairs of pants I brought her, she only took three items! The rest were too BIG for her. She's doing great!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went shopping at Good Will. I know... not too glamorous. But we had a great time trying on clothes and judging each other's choices. I bought a royal blue blouse with an interesting neckline of loose knots (still trying to draw attention away from the hips!), along with a black skirt and a pink and black three-quarter-sleeve sweater. The sweater is form-fitting with a line of color at the waist. Great to be in the market for something like that! And, I must admit to buying flannel jammie pants and a hoodie. My sister bought, among other things, a suede teal dress with diagonal seams across the front. Very flattering for her new size!

She beat me... she spent $36 and I spent $32. And our money went to a good cause. Can't beat that!