Here's a plan to ease into low-fat diet


May 31, 1994|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Special to The Sun

If you hate weighing and measuring food and calculating fat grams and calories, you can still eat more healthfully, lose weight and maintain that weight loss. Just follow these tips from "Thin for Life" by Anne M. Fletcher, M.S., R.D.

First, heed the comments of Graham Kerr. He used to be the "Galloping Gourmet," dining regularly on goose liver in Madeira sauce. Now he's the master of the "minimax" approach to eating. That means cooking with the minimum risk from fat, sodium and cholesterol, but with the maximum creativity by using aromas, colors and textures. His guiding principle is "What's the least I can put into my body that will give me the most vitality, and P.S., can it taste good, too?"

His advice for switching to low-fat eating is simple: "Whatever you know has fat in it, halve it. For instance, if you order French fries, eat only half of them. Then triple the amount of fruits, vegetables and grains you'd have with that food. Always replace food that has fat with food you adore that doesn't."

Ms. Fletcher adds a gradual approach to reducing fat by tackling one food group per week.

Goals for Week 1: Fats, oils and sweets

* For one or two days, keep track of your fat. For the next several days, cut your fat in half. Then, if you can, cut it in half once again.

* Take three foods you would normally eat with fat, and try them without any fat. Try a baked potato with salt, pepper and chives. If it seems too dry, add nonfat or low-fat yogurt or sour cream and chives.

* In cooking, try cutting the amount of fat you usually use by one-third to one-half.

* Limit sweets to three small servings this week.

Goals for Week 2: Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts

* Have two to three small servings per day. A serving is 2 to 3 ounces.

* Have fish or skinless breast of chicken or turkey at least three times this week.

* Have at least one serving of vegetarian beans mixed with pasta and vegetables or low-fat soup.

Goals for week 3: Milk, yogurt and cheese

* Have two to three servings from this group each day.

* If you haven't switched to skim milk, mix skim with your current milk, gradually increasing the proportion of skim till you've gone all the way.

* Sample different kinds of low-fat cheese to see which you prefer.

* Try two new flavors of fat-free yogurt.

Goals for Week 4: Fruit

* Have at least one fruit serving with each meal. Have a banana on your cereal, an orange with your lunch, and a baked apple with cinnamon for a bedtime snack.

* Try at least two less-familiar fruits this week, such as a papaya or kiwi.

* Have several types of fresh, cut-up fruit instead of a sweet dessert at least two nights.

Goals for Week 5: Vegetables

* Have at least one vegetable with lunch and two with dinner. Have carrot sticks or cucumber coins instead of chips with lunch and a spinach salad and cooked broccoli with dinner.

* Try at least two less-familiar vegetables this week, such as okra, Brussels sprouts or squash.

* Experiment with various non-fat flavorings: dillweed on green beans, basil on zucchini, or lemon juice on spinach.

Goals for Week 6: Breads, cereals, rice and pasta

* Have two servings (men may want more) from this group with each meal. Have high-fiber cereal and whole-wheat toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta and a slice of bread for supper.

* Have at least three grain foods you would normally have with fat, and try them without, such as pancakes with syrup but no butter.

* Have sandwiches with fancy mustard or fat-free mayo.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

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