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Dietary Sins

If you’re reading this, you are most likely what I refer to a dietary “sinner” and that is one of the big reasons that you may be having some trouble with your weight.  Sure, there are a bunch of other factors like heredity and hormone imbalance, but honestly, it has more to do how you live than anything else.  Do you honestly say stuff like “I have a slow metabolism” in public?  There’s a name for that; rationalization (its denial’s first cousin).  Do you really think anyone buys that while you’re sitting there stuffing your face?  Unlike sinning in the biblical sense where you are fully aware of what you are doing, the thing with dietary sinning that you are sinning and you may not even be aware of it. 

I know that I am a dietary sinner. There - I admitted it!   We all have our own sins and if you are going to be successful at getting some weight off and maintaining a reasonable weight, it would be useful to write them down and learn to deal with them.  Let’s face it; none of us (that means you) are going to stop all dietary sinning.  That would be an unreal expectation and a one way ticket to failure.  The best you are going to do is figure out a way to manage it.

Here are my “Top 10 Dietary Sins”.  These are the things that would kill me and destroy progress.  If you are catholic, you may recall in the Act of Contrition the line about “avoiding the nearest occasion of sin.”  Well, once you recognize you sins, until you figure out a way to manage them, your best bet is simply to avoid the temptation.  Here they are in no particular order:

Multiple 40s/Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages – Any way you slice it, two 40’s even of King Cobra constitutes somewhat of a “drinking binge”.  The problem is that I like King Cobra Malt Liquor, Hurricane High Gravity Lager and St. Ides High Gravity Malt Liquor.  For that matter I also like Olde English 800 and Colt 45!  A 40 you say, what is that?  It’s a 40 ounce bottle and it’s the favorite way for a lot of people (myself included) to consume malt liquor.  Even if I eschew a 40 (or malt liquor for that matter), it’s really easy to swill down five or six beers (or more) without ever being remotely intoxicated, particularly if you drink them over an extended period of time.  Hell, it isn’t really that hard to pound a dozen Miller Lites or Bud Light Limes on a hot day, particularly if you’ve been working outside.  The problem is that those calories still count.  The thing is that while it would be easy to say “I’m going to quit drinking beer (or just quit drinking), that isn’t going to happen around here anytime soon.  If you’re like me, what you need to do is manage your drinking a little better.  I keep track of how much I drink and it’s really enlightening data to review.  I’ve decided that this is one sin I flat out refuse to avoid.  As such I have to account for the calories.  My goal is to keep total consumption of alcoholic beverages at less than 10% or more of my caloric intake.

Most guys I know that need to drop a few pounds are “guilty” of this sin.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  What is it is something to be recognized and managed.  Let’s face it, completely giving up alcohol, while from a health and diet view point is an excellent idea, probably won’t work.  I know it won’t for me.  I like my beer, wine and liquor too much. 

Taco Bell – Here’s the problem; I like Taco Bell A LOT.  There is a reason why that is easy to articulate; Taco Bell puts out some damn good tasting food and does it at very reasonable prices (translation:  it tastes good and it’s cheap).  There are plenty of other quick service restaurants that pretty much do the same; it’s just that I like Taco Bell the best.  Part two of the problem is that a “Run for the Border” can be a calorie catastrophe.  It’s particularly problematic if it follows a day of excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages (which is all too often – face it, there’s a reason the drive through is open until 3 am on weekends).  Even under non-drinking circumstances, Taco Bell food is just too “calorie dense” (translation – you can pack away the calories in a hurry).  I can eat 1500 or more calories of Taco Bell food really easily (as can most healthy males).  Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t simply pick at a soft taco or bean burrito like some anorexic young girl.  The stuff just goes down too easy.  There is really only one solution here - I need to stay the hell away from Taco Bell.  I know that this probably won’t happen completely, but I sure as hell am going to give it a try.  As far as fast food in general I am not very concerned since I really don’t crave any other fast food outlet and generally only go to such places while traveling or if I am out and just have to get something to eat immediately.

Doritos and other chips (and don’t forget crackers w/cheese!) – A friend of mine once quipped to me that if it comes in a bag or a box it probably isn’t all that good for you.  My pal Ted was right.  The problem is that I love chips, particularly Doritos and other Nacho-type chips.  To make matters worse, Frito-Lay keeps coming out with new flavors for Doritos.  I also really like crackers and cheese.  Again, it’s easy to say that I just won’t ever touch the stuff but that probably won’t happen.  What I need to do is just be aware of consumption and leave the bag or box in the kitchen.

All You Can Eat Chinese Restaurants (or any buffet-style place like Golden Corral) – I love Chinese Food and when it comes to “bang for your eating buck” it’s hard to top an All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Buffet.  For less than ten bucks (including a non-alcoholic drink and tip) you can walk out stuffed.  Getting a full day’s supply of calories (as well as probably a week’s sodium) in a single sitting is easy at these places.  Unfortunately, the Louisville area has a number of excellent all you can eat Chinese buffets including one just a few miles from my house.  I count places like Golden Corral (nick name “Golden Trough”) in this category, but quite frankly other than while on vacation I rarely go to that type of place anyway.  I’m not sure I can safely walk into this type of restaurant.  The temptation to overdo it is way too great.

Pizza – I love pizza but it’s just too easy to overeat, particularly if you combine excessive beer or malt liquor consumption before and with the pizza.  Of course, if you toss in the Hometown Pizza (a local place) all you can eat lunch buffet you can really go overboard.  Even if you avoid the buffet, with the competition between pizza chains, it’s really cheap to have a lot of pizza (as well as bread sticks, chicken wings and other goodies) delivered to your house.  The problem with pizza in general is that it is just too good!  Now that my county has gone “wet” and you can get some beers with your all you can blast buffet, it’s even worse!  Since I have no plan on totally giving up pizza and that my family likes it a lot too, I will just have to be very aware of how many slices I am slamming.

Hooter’s – This is a dangerous place and I don’t mean in a derogatory way.  Why is it so dangerous?  Because it is just too easy to blast down two pitchers of beer, 20 Three Mile Island Wings and a few onion rings or fries between wings and beers.  Hooter’s has a high energy atmosphere that only adds to the problems.  The thing is that I really like going to Hooter’s as does the rest of my family and a bunch of my friends.  I can’t think of a better combination to encourage excessive caloric consumption than hot wings, cold draft beer, pretty girls, good friends and sports all together in a lively, high energy atmosphere.  I’ve often dreamed of recreating the scene in the movie “Back to School” where Rodney Dangerfield tell the waitress to “bring a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until one of us passes out, then bring one every ten” with some guys I know at a Hooter’s.  I know I will visit Hooter’s from time to time and will just have to learn to control myself.

El Nopal/El Toro/Fiesta Brava (and Mexican Restaurants in general) – I am a huge fan of Mexican places.  El Nopal is a very popular local chain of Mexican Restaurants in the Louisville area.  Their popularity is well deserved.  I can honestly say that I have never been let down at El Nopal.  The service is always great and the food is very tasty, well prepared and the portions are generous to say the least.  The bottom line is that the entire atmosphere is very conducive to overdoing it.  From the unlimited chips and excellent salsa to the ice cold Dos Equis 32 ounce drafts (or excellent margaritas) to the large (and delicious) platters, it is tough not to over eat and drink in these places (and do it on a budget!). 

Since my entire family loves El Nopal, I will not be able to avoid the place.  I will have to face up to my sins and just do everything I can to throttle back on what I eat and drink.

If El Nopal wasn’t bad enough, I recently went to a place called “El Toro” with some friends for lunch.  They have an all you can slam Mexican buffet and to make matters worse, the food is all top notch!  It is just too easy to hit the buffet three or four times.  An even newer place, Fiesta Brava, has opened near my house.  Again, excellent food and service at pretty good prices make this place a potential calorie disaster.

Rumors and Rootie’s Pump Room (or other similarly themed restaurant/bars) – This might be hard to believe, but there are a couple great Buffalo Wing places in Louisville.  They serve other stuff, but I go there for the wings, period.  OK, and maybe for a few beers to wash them down.  Rootie’s in particular is a dangerous place because it is a pure sports bar and the food is top notch.  The atmosphere is just conducive to over eating and drinking a lot of beer.   If I can somehow hold myself to 10 wings and two beers I can treat myself from time to time.  What I need to avoid is swilling a 24 on the way there and housing two pitchers and 20 or more wings.  I count in this category places like The Hard Rock Café too.  Why didn’t I group them with Hooter’s?  Well, Hooter’s is “deadly” enough to stand on its own as a sin.

Coke and other soda – These are purely empty calories.  If you’re thirsty, water is a far better option.  For that matter, beer has fewer calories than most sodas!  When you consider the possible effects of HFCS it just makes perfect sense to avoid these disasters at all costs.

Cake, cookies and ice cream (and let’s not forget candy!) – Let’s face it, I have a sweet tooth.  The only thing I like better than cookies or cake is cookies and cake with ice cream.  Do you have any idea how good chocolate ice cream is with mini chocolate chips?  Again, to say I just won’t ever eat cookies or cake or ice cream or candy is purely ridiculous.  What I need to do is learn to control myself.  There’s no rule that I have to eat the entire box of Girl Scout Cookies, right?

As you can see, I have a ton of eating demons that I will somehow have to exercise if I am going to be successful and this project.  We all do.  I haven’t even touched on emotional stuff like eating while you’re sad.  Hell, I tend to drink more when I am happy than when I am sad.  Then there’s that old favorite of eating while you’re bored.  Unless you understand your inner dietary demons you will never be successful in managing your weight or fitness.

Earlier I mentioned not even knowing you’re sinning at times.  What I mean here is being aware of just how much food you’re eating.  If you feel “stuffed” after eating, one thing is for certain – you ate too much.  The only thing worse is if you are eating stuff that doesn’t make you feel full.

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