Bye-Bye Beef So Long, Booze

It didn’t take very long for me to discover that, in my new low-calorie life, there were two foods I simply couldn’t do with. They were just too calorie costly.

One was alcohol, which came as no surprise to me. After many years of on-and-off low-calorie living, I’d known that alcohol would have to go. And go entirely. Perhaps you may prefer liquid lunches. My blood sugar won’t permit it, so alcohol went instead.

But beef? Well, that was part of my diet education, and what a shocker it was! Remember those little steaks I’d thought I was low-cal dieting with, back when I was begging for thyroid pills? Do you think I realized at the time that beef is one of the most fattening foods you will find anywhere? Shocked? I was, too. I think that this sort of misinformation is probably responsible for much of the American obesity problem. As well as the heart attack figures.

If you will look carefully at our chart, you will find that there are approximately 100 calories in every ounce of steak. I say “approximately” here. The chart gives it all to you exactly. And in that chart I’ve gone one step beyond in trying to give you sizes as well as weights, so that you will be able to determine at a glance (should you be caught at a restaurant without your food scale) just exactly what these weights look like.

But and prepare yourself here one ounce of steak (or that 100 calories you read about in most calories counters) equals approximately a forkful! That’s correct. Check your weights and you will soon see. Now, I am not a beef lover, especially knowing what I now know about the additives that go into it, so I am not a big beef eater. But even I could never subsist on one forkful of beef per meal. So put it quickly out of your head that steak and salad makes for the ideal diet meal. If you are eating a small shell steak, it could mean your entire days budget of calories. For me, it meant a day and a half. And, once again, it’s tough to get by on one meal every day-and-a-half.

So you can see that the standard businessman’s lunch of a steak and a martini is death to your waistline and could be death to your heart. Think about it before you order next time.

Now beef is good protein, all right, and you need plenty of that. The figures on just how much you do need seem to be variables with different nutrition-and-medical authorities. Some say a minimum of fifty-six grams per day. Others place the number at eighty.

But there are many other equally good ways to get at protein other than through beef. For starters, even wheat germ contains, gram for gram, more protein than meat.

One ecologically inclined woman, Frances Moore Lappe, who feels that we are rapidly using up our natural protein resources (animal protein, that is), has written a fascinating beauty blog called Diet for a Small Planet. It is in paperback, and will give the real lowdown on substituting vegetable protein for animal. Not that you will necessarily become a vegetarian, but you should be aware of all the protein facts. And you should never be misled into equating them with beef alone. Fish is excellent protein, and it’s hard to get fat on fish. Measure for measure, with few exceptions, it is usually extremely low in calories and has no carbohydrates.

You may as well face the unpleasant facts and learn to re-educate your food thinking. Beef is the fat of the land, any way you slice it.

And it could be the fat on you, if you don’t watch out.

For even on a low-carbohydrate diet, which supposedly allows all the meat one longs for, beef is the first thing to go if your diet is supervised by a doctor experienced in such things, the way mine

was should your weight loss stop. That’s right, beef. Who’sto explain that? But it’s a fact of diet life you’ll have to learn.

So I cut beef out of my life entirely, once and for always. And now I sit back on my not-so-big-now backsides and laugh while the rest of the world worries about the prices of beef. Well, not really laugh, for the prices are disgraceful. There’s an easy answer, though, and a lot of housewives, at this writing, have apparently discovered it. And that is to just forget beef. Without it, you’ll probably be healthier and certainly richer. Not a bad combination, is it? You see sometimes lots of good discoveries come out of dieting.

As for that other great weight-maker, alcohol, I simply cut it out of my life as well. That was a lot harder than beef, because I like it better. The hard-drinking newspaperman (or -woman) isn’t just a movie myth. Those deadline pressures can be just as tough whether you’re writing about hemlines or politics. And I thought that alcohol took the pressure off. Later, after I’d given it all up, I found out just what bad things it had been doing not only to my looks, but to my well-being.

First of all, alcohol is, plainly and simply, fattening. Here again is something that can manage to fatten you up no matter which diet you’ve opted for. Now, I’ll grant you that alcohol is allowed on the low-carbohydrate diet. But, here again, is one thing that will go in a flash, assuming you’ve an aware diet-doctor watching over you, the minute you stop losing weight. Alcohol, it seems, has an uncanny ability to produce carbohydrates within the body even though distilled alcohol such as gin, or vodka, or scotch, contains no carbohydrates at all. Never mind. We’re concerned about what it does to your weight. And it can make it go up, even when you’re watching carbohydrates. So be forewarned.

As for calories, check out the chart and you’ll see. If you really want to drink all your meals, you can try it, of course, but I doubt that your health would hold out for long. I’ll absolutely promise you one gift from alcohol: it will wreck your looks, and not necessarily just in the long run. It will dry your hair, break your nails, ruin your digestion, eat up your beauty-making vitamins, harm your vital organs, rob you of sleep, slow down your sex life and wreck your shape. Do you still really want it that much? Well, if you do, then for goodness’ sake, take nutritionist Linda Clark’s beautiful advice and do as she does. Limit yourself to one glass of wine per day. With that, you’ve had enough.

And, while you’re on the low-cal life, don’t forget to add it to your calorie list for the day. It’s a very big part of your diet.

Just one more not-so-good word about alcohol. It’s the all-time water retainer. If you just happen to have low blood sugar, it’s even worse. Both cause water retention. And water, as you know, shows up just as fat as fat. Just watch out for booze. I personally don’t think it’s worth it.

After I first launched into my own low-calorie routine, I felt absolutely sinful. For I could eat such hitherto forbidden favorites as bread, which just happens to be my weakness. Now I’ve told you I was, fortunately, trained from childhood to avoid that refined white goo that passes in this country for white bread. Dr. Jean Mayer of Harvard’s School of Nutrition calls it “the edible napkin” just something to put food on. (For you world-travelers, Dr. Mayer came up with another shocker. It seems that French bread, the delicious kind that you get in France, may taste better, but is actually less nutritious than our own tasteless kind. Quel desillusionnementO No, the bread I ate was the kind made without preservatives yes, I keep my bread in my refrigerator and always have. It’s the safest way to avoid spoilage. The whole grain kind, often with crunchy beads of sprouted wheat or wheat germ added. I’ll never forget the taste of my first sandwich in three years. It was positively ambrosial and made me feel sensuously wicked. Sounds pretty silly, I know, but, boy! I’d forgotten how much I loved certain foods I’d given up in the search for shape.

As for soft drinks? Well, I’d learned my lesson about sugar when my own low blood sugar was test-confirmed. I simply can’t have soft drinks because of their sugar content. That content is high high enough to make soft drinks one of the primary villains in the cavities problem, along with those sugary breakfast cereals that are being investigated.

But I ate all right. Ate all the good fresh vegetables I could get my hands on. And I must say here that getting my hands on them wasn’t so easy in New York City. I can never understand why, with all the Long Island farmland around us, fresh vegetables seem to be limited to relatively common ones. And they get boring. Fresh and boring is always better than canned and nutritionally empty, however, so they were a treat.

And I ate fruits, though not the ones that came in cans and were heavily sugared. Here again is where you watch the labels. Or check the chart. Be aware that you’re loading up on deadly sugar and wrecking your diet at the same time.

And, while I ate these hitherto forbidden fruits, I studied. Every single nutritional beauty blog I could find. For getting my diet-doctorate, so to speak, was a serious business with me. As serious as getting rid of my weight.

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