Monday, August 31, 2009

Entertaining Shalts & Shalt Nots

I'd like to add an 11th commandment to the Brentwood Diet: inflict not the Brentwood Diet upon your guests.

While in Phase One, you may find it easier to cook for others than to be a dinner guest. You have total control over what's served. You don't have to make a big deal about your dietary needs. And don't need to ask if you can bring something. But unless you have a sadistic streak or want to discourage certain guests from ever eating over again, do add some civilian food and drink to the mix. Odds are that health-conscious guests will appreciate any low-cal, non-processed offerings. Course after course of Brentwood-Diet-only food might not win the cook compliments, though.

Most hosts ask about food prohibitions and preferences; and would keep carb-loving buddies in mind when making up the menu, anyway. But it's easy to slip up. Once we served a brunch and included whole slew of normal food, including dessert, but forgot to buy bread. Luckily, we had crackers on hand. Remember, people expect the basics--like bread, salt and butter. Of course, chocolate comprises an essential, fifth food group for some, if not one of their primary reasons for living.

Handling the temptations of leftovers is as easy as making up goodie bags for your guests. This worked well when we hosted Thanksgiving. People seemed happy to take home stuffing and pumpkin pie, etc. And hopefully, they shalt return for future dinners.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to Square One

We began the Brentwood Diet in April 2007. Phase One lasted for three months for both of us--and every moment felt like gastronomic boot camp. David lost 30 pounds and I lost 25. While our weight-loss stories didn't come with jaw-dropping before-and-after pictures, David's blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol numbers testify to the diet's life-changing effects.

The good news is that we've pretty much kept the weight off. I've strayed from the diet more than my husband and returned twice already to Phase One, each time for less than two weeks at a clip. Hey, it's a lot easer to take off five pounds than twenty. And certainly less painful to adhere to Phase One's hardcore restrictions for a short time.

Right now, we're going back to Phase One, again. For David, it's the first time since 2007. Which seems amazing to me, when you think about the yo-yo effects of most diets. For sure, it won't be as difficult as two years ago, because instead of giving up everything, we only have to close the eat-whatever-you-want-10%-of-the-time loophole and forgo a few Phase Two staples. For us, that means daily consumption of red wine, skim milk, low-fat yogurt and fruit. The fruit will be hardest for me. David only indulges in nightly blueberries with yogurt. (Blueberries being low in sugars and high in antioxidants and flavor.) Yesterday, we chowed down on Chinese food in a typical pre-diet binge. And today is sort of a transition day, because I didn't want to throw out a papaya and we're finishing off the remaining milk with our coffee. But, tomorrow it's back to square one.

Anyhow, we each want to lose five pounds. And there's no doubt that we will do it. The Brentwood Diet works. And once you've been on it, you have the confidence that you can control your weight for life--and that's quite powerful.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Travelers Tips

Traveling during Phase 1 is tough. Your eating-out strategies come into play, but keep portability in mind. If traveling by car, keep water and your bag 'o vegetables near by. If you're staying at a motel without a fridge handy, buy Persian cucumbers and mini peppers for snacking. They don't need to be chopped, which is nice, too.

When you fly, plan ahead. My husband, David, was so militant during the first phase of the diet that he once travelled to Toronto without eating anything on the plane. A few weeks later, we made the same trip together. This time, we ate at home and each ordered a salad with chicken chunks on the plane (sans dressing, of course). I brought unsalted almonds to nibble inflight, too. (Yes, they're banned from the Brentwood Diet, but they were OK by Atkins. David didn't crack, though.) Upon arrival, we devoured a veggie omelette, which for some reason, required some negotiation at the coffee shop. Hard-boiled eggs and pre-packaged crudite trays from the grocery store helped a lot during our stay. We navigated shiva meals as best we could. For example, we both removed the bread from our tuna-salad sandwiches. David didn't realize that they contained mayo. I chose not to tell him. There are times when life calls for flexibility.

People in the second phase of the Brentwood Diet can relax a bit. They also can prepare for the trip by going back to Phase 1 before they travel. The idea is to lose weight in anticipation of a slight gain. Of course, the Brentwood Diet lifestyle isn't just about watching weight. It's about keeping blood sugar, cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc. in check. So, don't go hog wild on your vacation or business trip.

How To Avoid Becoming A Social Pariah

Unfortunately, the first phase of the Brentwood Diet can put a dent in your social life. The ninth commandment of the Brentwood Diet states: when going out, eat first. Heed it and you'll go a long way. Here are some more strategies you might consider to help you stick to the Brentwood Diet and avoid becoming a buzz kill.

Mineral water, unsweetened iced-tea, black coffee. Needless to say, you will not be the life of the party.

Yes, you can order a salad with chicken chunks and oil and vinegar on the side. Grilled white fish and chicken breasts are a safe bet, too. But, most things on the menu come with salt. You'll need to consult with your food servers and have them check with the chefs to find if everything complies with the Brentwood Diet. Fortunately, for those living in the LA area, many restaurants are used to special orders. They don't upset us. Or at least, not too much. They can irritate your dining companions, though.

This is much trickier than eating out. First, let your friends or family know that you have special needs. Your hosts may be happy to meet them. Of course your hosts can hear low-carb diet, whip you up something from the South Beach Diet Cookbook and be disappointed when you don't eat it. So, please be clear on things.

Offer to bring your own food. Your hosts may be OK and even relieved if you do. But, ASK first. Toting your own turkey meatballs might offend someone who's shopped and cooked something off-diet for you. And if you do bring your own food, don't just bring it for yourself: make enough to share. FYI: even non-Brentwood Dieters must deal with this. A friend's little boy is allergic to everything and she goes through this every time her son gets an invitation to a birthday party or play date.

Avoid talking about the Brentwood Diet at length. It's boring. Shortly after we went on the diet, a friend went on it, too. We went over to his house for a Super Bowl party. His wife not only added Brentwood-Diet-compliant food to the mix, she also made up signs for the buffet table forbidding guests to talk about the diet. Zealous converts to the Brentwood Diet, we'd also become pains in the ass.

Load your plate with them at every opportunity.

Remember the 90% on / 10 % off rule for Phase 2? Eating out and traveling are when it really comes into play. But, when you eat out and go off-diet, keep things in perspective. You might choose to have a beer, but forgo the Buffalo chicken wings dipped in blue cheese dressing.