General principles for maintaining weight while traveling globally
December 10, 2012 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out a way to eat healthily, without gaining weight, while traveling on work, across climates, geography, cuisines and hotels. Gained 7lbs/3kg in just the past 2 weeks of travel for work.

I just spent 2 weeks working in Europe (Holland) and came back to Singapore today to find that I've brought some excess baggage. And I was trying to lose a few pounds!

I have a few questions on this challenge:

1. Climate variations are extreme - it was snowing in Holland and its a tropical 32 Celsius here.

2. Food is either eaten on the go, in restaurants or readymeals unless I get a chance to cook in a service apartment.

3. Cuisines are so different and the ones I'm most commonly exposed to are never listed in all the thousands of websites on calorie counting. i.e. North and South Indian, Malay, Chinese, Dutch, whatever, its not possible to follow a formal (western style) diet such as a lettuce leaf and a boiled egg type of thing.

4. I need general principles rather than diets - such as "cut out all sugar"; "don't eat cheese"; "coconut milk is out" or some such

5. What else can I do? I have never formally dieted or calorie counted but only started gaining weight in this past year.

Links to calories of non Western/American foods/brands appreciated! I don't even know if kuay teow is an artery choker or not!

posted by infini to Health & Fitness (44 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I am omnivorous.
posted by infini at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2012

Are there gyms available in the hotels you stay?
posted by Under the Sea at 10:25 AM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: I would think ordering foods that have the least amount of sauce, which can carry many calories, nothing fried, and everything vegetable based would be one good rule of thumb.
posted by Vaike at 10:25 AM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Do exactly what you did over the last two weeks, but as soon as you are served any meal, take 1/3 of it and throw it in the trash. Do not order any additional meals.

Problem solved.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Are there gyms available in the hotels you stay?

Not really, I'm in rural small towns and guesthouses - but I walk miles in the snow. Oh yes, miles.
posted by infini at 10:31 AM on December 10, 2012

Aim for foods cooked by steaming, if you can.
posted by telophase at 10:35 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Restaurants generally a) serve much larger portions than are suitable, and b) add a lot of crap to meals to make it taste good.

1) Do not eat the full portion they give you. Know what portion size you eat when you cook for yourself, and only eat that.

2) Stick to food without sauce, or ask for it on the side.

3) Salads are good, with dressing on the side, because the only calorie-rich part there is the dressing. You can add the minimal amount you need, or alternately ask for low-cal dressing.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:37 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's all about portion sizes and not stuffing yourself on calorie-dense, nutrient-poor food. Avoid sugars, sauces, and fried foods. Don't eat a lot of bread with meals if it comes on the side. If your only option is a curry or something, either don't eat the rice, or only eat half of the meal.

That said, in order for you to gain 7 pounds of fat in 14 days, you would have to eat 1,750 calories per day more than your maintenance calorie intake. That is a LOT of food. It is possible that some of that is water weight gain. Make sure you stay hydrated on the road with lots of water and no-calorie beverages like tea, and try to avoid salty foods, though avoiding fried stuff like french fries and the like will help with that.
posted by bedhead at 10:39 AM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This basically was my reality for a while and I had to do a few things including cutting out travel somewhat. Here are my guidelines that have helped

1. Try to count calories anyhow and make your best guesses. Even if there's no exact equivalent for the dish you ate, knowing that it's similar to, say, pork fried rice or chicken korma is closer than not having any idea. I use MyFitnessPal and I've had decent luck finding analogs for most of the meals I eat here and elsewhere.

2. Have some meals be predictable (if you can) so making either dinner or breakfast be something you can count, yogurt/fruit/museli/oatmeal/sausage/egg. I would literally travel with powerbar type foods and have them for one meal.

3. As far as "bang for buck" goes, unsauced vegetables and salads, lean cuts of meat in reasonable portions and high-protein/low cal stuff [egg whites, smoothies] are your friends. Find a thing you like and stick with it.

4. Bread, rice, dairy and oils are easy ways to tack on calories that you don't notice. I am not a no/low carb person but being mindful of where the calories are is helpful.

5. Skip alcohol and desserts entirely if you don't already. Empty useless calories.

6. Drink water, tea or coffee. Avoid fruit juices, non-diet sodas and energy drinks.

7. Keep in mind that even if you do a ton of walking, walking will only work off 200-ish calories an hour (and that's if you're hustling) so it's not really a good balance to having too much food.
posted by jessamyn at 10:40 AM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Go for foods with low calorie density like soup and vegetables (preferably not fried, without sauce or dressing—but fried veggies with sauce are still going to be better for you than fried meat or cheese with sauce).

Go meatless when you can, and get your protein from beans and tofu. (Nuts are also really easy to pack for travel, in case you need a protein fix.)
posted by BrashTech at 10:40 AM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, in as close to whole form as you can, and lay off sauces and salt to accompany them. If the sanitation is in issue, eat these items cooked but preferably in water. Also eat plenty of beans (ubiquitous in almost all cultures) and small amounts of nuts. Keep meat intake low -- i.e. treat meat as a small addition to a meal, not the main event.

Really try to avoid added salt and sugar and anything processed. Keep alcohol and caffeine intake to one serving of each per day.

And aim for three solid meals a day, no snacking.
posted by bearwife at 10:41 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Some really great insights here. I've never actually educated myself much on calorie rich foods ( weighed 40kg/95lbs until my 30s meant the opposite behaviours for most of my life).

I suspect some of it is water retention and also from the long flight but the jump in weight was noticeable when I walked in the door at home.

I didn't drink alcohol during this trip and drank mostly mint tea.

Here are some stupid questions based on what I've noticed I default to at the end of a long cold day - mostly from the calorie point of view:

1. Ramen and instant noodles - good, bad, will do?

2. Cheese - are all cheeses bad? Europe has cheese. Holland has more cheese. I'm in an agricultural university town full of cows.

3. Sausages - are they good? bad?

4. What is the best way to eat a potato? Boiled or baked?

5. Cold makes me hungry if I skip the rice or "filler" carbs - what are my alternatives or do I just deal with it?

Its my metabolism going haywire.
And if I don't change my eating habits completely I'm gonna be my grandma (200lbs at 4'9")
posted by infini at 10:53 AM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: Eat only when you are hungry. Often business travel involves eating for purposes of socialization or networking. If you can socially get away with not eating a full meal at those times, unless you are actually hungry for it, then that will help. I also find it's easy for me to eat more when I eat with a group; if I concentrate on making sure I don't feel overstuffed at the end of the meal, I'm a lot happier.

I always travel with nuts or nut/fruit bars, and I find that really useful; it means I never have the feeling that I have to eat right now because it could be my last chance for a while, so I'm more likely to eat only when I actually need the sustenance.
posted by nat at 10:57 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Stay away from shiny foods.

Food is shiny from sauces, butters or other oils. Some fat is good for you and hot damn it's delicious. It's also a calorie bomb so if you're served shiny veggies, then you know that they've been bathed in some fat and are not the skinny side dish you anticipated.

Raw carrot, not shiny.
Cooked carrot in butter, shiny.

It's an easy way to figure out the fat content of foods when you have no other info available.
posted by 26.2 at 10:58 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

These are the tricks that work for my partner: eat mostly fish and vegetables (fresh, steamed, or roasted); avoid fried foods as much as possible; minimize white starches (rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, crackers, etc.) as much as possible, either by avoiding entirely or substitutiting brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc.; wine instead of beer or hard alcohol; avoid large meals a few hours before bedtime; snack on nuts or fruit.
posted by scody at 10:58 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One thing I find when I travel is that I am often not hungry at mealtimes (jetlag, etc.). But I do get hungry at non-mealtimes. So sometimes what happens is I end up eating both at mealtimes AND at the times when I get hungry (obviously being hungry is somewhat related to how much you ate and when you last ate but it's also tied to your biological clock).

So it helps if I either only eat when I'm hungry or I only eat at mealtimes. If I'm all on my own I will usually do the former; if I'm traveling with or visiting people who want to eat meals at normal mealtimes I will try to do the latter.

On preview:

Ramen is so calorie-dense I don't eat it at home but do bring it as emergency rations when I'm hiking. (Some types are less calorific than others, but in general they are high-carb, high-fat.)

Cheese and sausage are mostly fairly high in fat; hard cheese is usually higher in fat that soft/semisoft cheese, but not always. But they're delicious! So have some just keep the portion small. Think the size of three or four dice.

Neither boiling nor baking add any calories to the potato. Eat them however you like, just be aware of added ingredients.
posted by mskyle at 10:59 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: mkyle - that ramen and cheese and sausage might be the answer to bedhead's question on WTF was I eating to gain weight so fast!!
posted by infini at 11:01 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I travel a lot and find that it's easy to eat a lot of carbohydrates on the road. For me, at least, carbs mean weight gain. Unfortunately, carbs are also the most readily-available food from airport kiosks, etc. Some tricks that have helped me:

- Always carry nuts for snacking. My preference is chocolate-covered almonds because I get both filling food and a little bit of choco-sugar comfort.

- When the waiter plunks the over-filled plate in front of you, immediately move half of the food to one side of the plate. That is the half that you won't eat or at least will bring back to your hotel room and eat for lunch the next day.

- Eat very little of the carb part of the meal. Curry yes, rice no, and so forth. I would nix the ramen noodles and potatoes.

Once I got used to eating this way, I found an additional benefit: If I can't eat for awhile due to plane delays or whatever, I don't get so crazy hungry. On the other hand, if I eat a lot of carbs, an unintentional fast is challenging and can lead me to eat too much when the food finally appears.
posted by ceiba at 11:03 AM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Someone asked Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs how he keeps fit on the road. He mentioned that he does something akin to a prison workout aka burpees. Here is the video.
posted by spec80 at 11:03 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ramen is usually a salt-bomb, if it's the packaged stuff, so that would contribute to you gaining water weight if you were eating a lot.
posted by telophase at 11:04 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: 1. Ramen and instant noodles - good, bad, will do?

2. Cheese - are all cheeses bad? Europe has cheese. Holland has more cheese. I'm in an agricultural university town full of cows.

3. Sausages - are they good? bad?

4. What is the best way to eat a potato? Boiled or baked?

5. Cold makes me hungry if I skip the rice or "filler" carbs - what are my alternatives or do I just deal with it?

1. Ramen and instant noodles are loaded with salt. And very little nutrition. And not filling except in calorific amounts. So: bad.

2. Cheese: Delicious but very fatty and very salty and again, not all that filling. So -- avoid.

3. Sausages: fatty and salty . . .very.

4. Either way is fine but potatoes are one veggie that doesn't carry much nutrition. Others are better choices.

5. Try cold salad, in large quantities with tons of beans. Keep the dressing on the side. Amazingly filling.

I know a diet without most of the above sounds terrible, but if you eat like a "nutritarian" you'll break your addictions to salt, sugar, and empty carbs, and you'll start finding your food is amazingly delicious because you'll start picking up the fantastic sweetness and subtle flavors in your food.

If you are interested in finding out more, I really recommend and Fuhrman's book, Eat To Live.
posted by bearwife at 11:09 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Goes for a walk.

I am going to have to change my eating habits completely. I can't stop the travel, at least in the near future. I'm back in snow in Jan, Feb and March already.
posted by infini at 11:11 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think maybe portion control (just being aware of what a healthy portion size would be) might be very helpful for you - there are lots of charts that give you rules of thumb for "recommended" serving sizes for different types of food - e.g. a serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand; a serving of rice/potato/grain should be the size of a computer mouse; etc. etc.
posted by mskyle at 11:14 AM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: Buy fruit from nearby stores if you can't get it in restaurants. Eat it in your hotel room before you go for a meal. It will help you feel full so you naturally won't eat as much calorie-rich foods.

Track what you eat with myfitnesspal. Set yourself a calorie goal in your account and try not to go over it.

Carry an energy bar with you. That way you won't feel the need to stuff yourself at each meal because you're worried you'll be hungry later with no access to food.

Order room service breakfasts of stuff like low sugar cereal, brown toast with jam and no butter, baked beans and some poached eggs. This will help you avoid stuffing yourself at the breakfast buffet.

Order things like grilled fish and vegetables. Avoid anything fried, and say no to sausages and cheese. Don't get dessert.
posted by hazyjane at 11:43 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I carry pouches of instant oatmeal with me when I travel. If you can boil water somewhere, or even just heat water through the in-room coffeepot, you can have a quick, easy, low-cal & high fiber breakfast.
posted by jabes at 11:58 AM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: When I was traveling extensively to The Netherlands I started just shopping at the grocery store. They have surprisingly tasty salads and sandwichs readily available. Just hit the store everyday after work and pick up a few things.

Also, a room with a refrigerator is a wonder for eating on your own.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:00 PM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: take 1/3 of it and throw it in the trash. 

Right idea, very wrong tactic. Don't throw perfectly good food in the trash - that's violating one principle for another.

Instead, request a smaller portion when you order your meal. Or, take the 1/3 and doggy bag it for later.

Portion control is measurably more important to weight control than physical exercise. Do the exercise for other health benefits such as cardiovascular, strengthening, etc.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:29 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are a lot of great suggestions here. Personally, I find that I can eat pretty much whatever I want and not gain weight as long as I avoid carbs and very processed foods, including artificial sweeteners, and drink lots of water. I also eat slowly and ask myself "Am I satisfied?" vs. "Am I full?" In my case, cheese, butter, and full-fat salad dressing have no effect, but pasta causes the scale to jump immediately.

YMMV with any of these suggestions, though, which is why I would recommend keeping a food diary on your next few trips as you try out things to see what works for you. That way you will learn which foods cause you to gain, and which ones--even the "bad ones"--have no effect.
posted by rpfields at 12:46 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding rpfields - I don't worry too much about fat (dairy, butter, sauces) although I do avoid fried foods. What I avoid is carbs: rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, sugar (sweets, chocolate, etc.). Just by avoiding those things I can drop weight or maintain weight without thinking (eating lots of meat, fish, eggs, cheese, vegetables, and fruit). I am also pretty conscientious about portion size.

I would drop by a grocery store and keep the following things in my hotel room: baby carrots, apples, broccoli (buy frozen and cook in microwave), almonds, string cheese. All very filling and low-cal.
posted by amaire at 1:01 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Frequent traveler-for-work here, and faced a similar dilemma of gaining a lot of weight.

Combination of the stress of travel (the long days, many customer visits, a lot of talking, a lot of entertaining colleagues and customers), and a 'you can order anything you want' mentality conspire to pile on the pounds. Alcohol didn't help either.

At times not having time to eat (while rushing to another airport etc.) also affects the overeating.

I found going low-carb to be a godsend, in that I just cut out all carbs, and when I had an option to shop at a local market would just buy simple groceries that would be fresh and healthy. (Yogurts, fruits, raw vegetables.)

On preview what amaire just wrote - nuts, cheeses, dairy.
posted by scooterdog at 1:33 PM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: Thing to eat liberally - meaning, as much as you want at meals, and they are great for snacks: vegetables (raw or cooked with minimal sauce), fresh fruit, beans/lentils, low-fat dairy

Things to eat in moderation - meaning eat whenever you want as a snack or meal, but watch your portion size - look online for a suggested portion size for each item: nuts, vegetables cooked in sauce, dried fruit, higher-fat dairy (including cheese), whole grains, eggs, not-processed meat. Using oil (or oil-based salad dressings) is generally good for satiety, but fits in this category because you should try to use a tablespoon or two if you are watching portions.

Things to eat occasionally - meaning, when you really want them, have a portion, but this category should be a relatively small percentage of your overall diet: highly processed snack food (chips/crisps, ramen noodles, most fast food restaurant food, packaged cookies, etc), processed carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta, white rice), really fatty items (fried food, processed meat like sausage), really sugary items (candy)

There are a lot of different diet philosophies, but basically everyone agrees that you can/should eat vegetables liberally & processed foods minimally.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:35 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Eat more vegetables, some meats and some fruits. Avoid snacking but eat fruit, nuts or vegetables if you must. Avoid bread, rice, fried foods and processed foods (protein bars, snack bars), candy, desserts, soda and alcohol. Make sure you get enough sleep (6-8 hours), try and keep stress low. Traveling, especially halfway around the world can really throw your body off and it might start retaining water or going into a state of high cortisol production which may make you gain weight.
posted by youthenrage at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: On the road as I type this but in a tropical climate.
Cut out the starch. I know it´s easy at the buffet breakfast or when the waiter shoves a bread roll at you. There is no such thing as non fattening cake.
Fresh fruit and salad good. Often difficult in N. Europe in winter.
Vedge, vedge, vedge can´t go wrong.
Potato, Yucca, Plaintain and yes even rice are your enemy however wonderful they might be and especailly when they are all on the same plate..
Avoid sausages, salamis processed meatas they have lots of additives. Watch the portions.
Avoid sauces includind bottled mayo etc. Cheese = fat. Grilled is healthy. Fried is death.
Fish is good. Drink at least 2 - 3 litres of liquid preferably water a day.
Good luck, it´s tough. (Trying to forget what he ate today arroce e camarones, pao, yucca, plantain, banana, yam, salami, queijo, tarta...I am bad).
posted by adamvasco at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It might just be the flying. I lost 3kg in three days after a long haul flight, so don't freak out just yet. Drink lots of water, cut down on salt and see what happens over the next few days.
posted by kjs4 at 5:24 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Portion control! We often eat way more than we need since restaurant portions, and the plates they are served on, are much larger than they need to be.
Start eating the fats & proteins on the plate first, then move on to carbs. That way your leptin receptors will let you know you are full faster. This only works if you eat slowly instead of inhaling your food.
posted by Neekee at 5:39 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For me, like Neekee, it's about portion control. Just because they serve it, doesn't mean you have to eat it.

On the road, I only allow myself breakfast room service once every 3-4 days. Other days it's a power bar.

And when meetings include lunch, I curtail portions if it's a buffet, and, well, eat everything if it's plated, but then skip dinner, as hard as that is.

In the end, it's about discipline. Don't eat what's offered or available, eat what your body needs.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 6:21 PM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: Get in the habit of either taking with you or acquiring on arrival food that is nutritionally valuable and portable/storable at room temperature.

That would include things like instant oatmeal, that you can mix with just boiling water (I know the packets say milk but whatever, water works fine), nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables. Fresh vegetables would not necessarily include salad but things like tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, sugar snap peas, mushrooms etc - anything that won't poison you if eaten raw.

At this point it also helps to remember that you can carry things like a smallish knife, a bowl and a small chopping board etc in your checked luggage. They add little to no weight and take up little space but they are VERY useful because they allow you to 'cook' with just hot water.

For warmth I would suggest drinking hot low sugar drinks or other hot liquids. Invest in some low sodium, nice vegetable stock powder type thing. In fact you can turn that into soup by adding some of your chopped fresh vegetables...With these things you're set for a few days of eating at least one healthy meal per day.

And yes, that sounds like a lot of utensils or staples to pack but seriously, they are essentials. You would never dream of not packing your wash bag or clothing. Ensuring you can eat well, as in healthy food that will allow you to maintain your energy levels with a punishing work and travel schedule, is just as important. So pack whatever you need to pack to achieve that.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:12 PM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: I'm nthing the guess that most of that weight is probably water retention from sodium + a long flight. Give it a week and then weigh yourself again.

However I do find that I put on weight pretty easily when travelling - mainly from snacking more often to try all the fun local specialties. The last couple of trips I decided to limit this, and I only ate at actual mealtimes (and I'm never hungry in the morning, so that basically meant two meals a day). If I wanted to try a delicious cake or sweet, cool, but it had to be part of a meal. And if I didn't feel like eating a sandwich AND that cake at lunch, then that was fine, and I could just eat the cake.

Letting myself eat fun and delicious food was important, because that's half the fun of travelling, and because I wanted a plan I could actually stick with, which would not happen if I felt deprived. But seriously, there's a limit to how much I can eat in a sitting, and even if I eat to that limit twice a day, I am not going to gain weight. (YMMV, but if ýou've been naturally thin all your life, it's probably true for you too.)

Secondly, when you are cold, deal with that first, and then decide once you have warmed up if you are actually hungry. So put on more clothes, have a hot shower or bath, or do some vigourous exercise (even brisk walking). Have a hot drink. Then check in with your stomach.
posted by lollusc at 12:00 AM on December 11, 2012

Response by poster: And yes, that sounds like a lot of utensils or staples to pack but seriously, they are essentials. You would never dream of not packing your wash bag or clothing. Ensuring you can eat well, as in healthy food that will allow you to maintain your energy levels with a punishing work and travel schedule, is just as important. So pack whatever you need to pack to achieve that.

Lovely lovely suggestions all!

Ironically, I have always carried a small electric kettle, a bowl and spoon, chopsticks and ta..da... instant soups and noodles *laughs at self*

But reading this through means, that I can do the clear veg soups instead *and* boil veg if I need to (If steaming not possible) to eat.

Its also a very fundamental change in orientiation for me - rice, you see, is my staple diet. I'm Indian - there's already 2 parathas waiting for me right now to eat - that's fried bread I now realize, not the "healthy" food the family/culture thinks it is.

I was eating a lot more rice *because* the orientation, as an Asian, was rice bowl, then put stuff on it, not how my Dutch colleague would eat, which is rice like a small portion on the side.

There's a lot of great general advice which is extremely helpful now in preparing and packing for the next trip.

And of course, time at home with the kitchen to experiment and change my diet in the meantime.

Oh, and yes, the flight does have something to do with - I've lost a kg since yesterday - but its not enough a reason for all the "its cold, lets shove something in my mouth" :)
posted by infini at 3:11 AM on December 11, 2012

Response by poster: For me, like Neekee, it's about portion control. Just because they serve it, doesn't mean you have to eat it.

Portion control is a big thing to learn - however, what happens when you leave food on the plate (as I've tried to do or as happened in the past) but your colleagues are all trained (Estonia for eg) due to history of food scarcity, to completely clear their plates?

I will need to play my "ethnic" card I suspect, in order to maintain courtesy while eating differently. I'm Indian, I can easily claim to be dietarily restricted I suppose ;p
posted by infini at 3:21 AM on December 11, 2012

...but your colleagues are all trained (Estonia for eg) due to history of food scarcity, to completely clear their plates?

You could try to emulate my mother-in-law, who controls her portions by splitting them with her table-mates.* I'd been wondering how she stayed slim, but realized this past visit that every time we've gone out to eat, she's always said "I can't eat this much. This is too much for me. I'll split it with someone. Does anyone want to split it with me?" Between that and golfing several times a week, she's got a decent fitness program going.

* This works out best with her younger son, who is 30 and still has the metabolism of a growing teenage boy, much to my husband's (his older brother) dismay!
posted by telophase at 8:29 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's some great dietary advice here, but I just wanted to chime in about portion control/ calorie counting. I just got back from a two-week trip to Germany and I put on about 2.5/3 lbs which I was expecting to do as I didn't hold back (especially on beer.) But, I think the reason why I didn't put on more is that I've gotten so used to portion control and waiting for mealtimes to eat. From my heaviest to what I normally weigh, over the years I've lost about 50lbs or basically a quarter of my body-weight. I first started only with exercise which is, of course, important, and I plateaued, after losing about 20lbs for years. Only when I started to take portion control seriously was I able to shift the rest of the weight. Now that I'm back, I'm not concerned about the weight I put on during my trip as I can easily lose that again, due to counting calories and knowing exactly what I'm eating. So, I fully encourage you, from personal experience, to control the portions that you eat/ know how many calories you're consuming.
posted by ob at 8:56 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OMG!!

Rethinking everything, learning more from this thread and the links, *and* a special shout out to tel3path who sent me a book on how to eat like an European and stay thin, I just got back after 10 whole weeks traveling on 2 other continents and 3 countries, and am the same weight!!!

Which is also 1.5 kg (about 4 lb) less than when I wrote this AskMe

posted by infini at 3:09 AM on May 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: The biggest difference was made by NO SNACKING or just a bag of crisps a week, not a day!

and Jessamyn's

6. Drink water, tea or coffee. Avoid fruit juices, non-diet sodas and energy drinks.
posted by infini at 3:13 AM on May 31, 2013

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