THE BLOG
10/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Balanced Life: Eleven Tips That I'm Using to "Eat Very Right" (and Cut Calories).

Scale2 For the month of September, I've resolved to "eat very right." I wouldn't be able to eat this right forever -- and I wouldn't even try -- but I decided to take a boot-camp approach to cleaning up my eating habits.

1. No sweets. Not even a bite. I gave up my beloved Tasti D-Lite - ah, I miss it. I'd already pretty much given up food like cookies and cupcakes, but boy, I do love to eat candy. For mini Tootsie-Rolls, Peppermint Patties, butterscotch disks, etc, I'll have to wait until November.

2. When possible, choose fruits and vegetables, and after that, lean protein. So if I have a choice between rice and roasted vegetables, I choose vegetables. If I have a choice between pasta and fish, I choose fish.

3. Only one bowl of cereal a day. I love cereal and would eat it at every meal. Also, I do the bottomless-cereal-bowl trick, where I eat all the cereal, and when I see the milk that's left over, I fill the bowl with cereal again to use it up. Not this month.

4. Nothing in the cracker/pretzel family.

5. Keep tempting food in an inconvenient place, keep healthy food in a convenient place. When I'm hungry, everything looks good. If I see a lovely fruit salad ready to eat in the fridge, that's what I'll want to eat.

6. No juice and no alcohol.

7. No "bites" of other people's food. I take one bite of the Little Girl's grilled-cheese sandwich, then another, and then pretty soon I've eaten half a sandwich.

9. Eat at home whenever possible. My brother-in-law worked at a restaurant, and he told me that whatever you might order, and however it might be prepared, it has tons of butter on it.

10. No bread from a bread basket, and no bread as a snack. Well, except that sometimes, when I really need a quick, fast snack that I can eat on the run, I toast a whole-wheat pita pocket and eat that.

11. Don't eat when I'm not hungry; eat as soon as I do get hungry.

When I told my sister about the changes I was making, she said, "You basically eat very well. Why cut this stuff out altogether? You can have treats once in a while. It's a more sustainable way to eat."

Well, yes and no. I wouldn't want to try to live by these rules forever, but the fact is, it's easier for me to give things up altogether than to indulge moderately. I agree with Samuel Johnson, who wrote, "Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult."

Take Tasti D-Lite, which I was eating twice, sometimes three times, a day. It's easier for me to give up Tasti D-Lite altogether than to eat it three times a week. I'd spend way too much energy thinking about whether I should have it today, or tomorrow, or now, or later this afternoon, or whether this cone should "count" or whether I should get a freebie for some reason. For me, a happier approach is to give it up altogether, so I don't fret about it.

Speaking of Tasti D-Lite, it's a good example of how something that's allegedly healthier for you can actually lead you to make less healthy choices. I would never, in a million years, eat an ice-cream cone every day. But because Tasti D-Lite doesn't "count" as ice cream, or a "real" dessert, I eat a ton of it.

In the same way, when I gave up fake food, I realized that although I'd never eat a candy bar every day, I was eating "health bars" every day, when I would have been better off eating real food, like soup or salad or a smoothie, instead.

Have you found any tips to help yourself to "eat very right"?

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