As I've often said since starting this diet for The Shape We're In project, willpower isn't my strong suit.
If faced with making a choice between an approved Jenny Craig snack or a Little Debbie, I might do the right thing at the time, but it's a safe bet the Little Debbie will be gone by the end of the day as well.
So imagine how relieved I was to hear Jamie McDermott explain that's more human nature than a serious character flaw.
Ms. McDermott, a registered dietitian with Memorial's Diabetes and Nutrition Center, will be featured at She: An Expo for Women at 12:45 p.m. Saturday in the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Her topic is basically a must-hear for any dieter: "Hungry? Choose This Instead of That."
She might as well have extended me an engraved invite!
Ms. McDermott said her philosophy when helping dieters is that too much restriction will ultimately result in cravings and diet downfalls.
"We basically need to stop extreme dieting and work in foods we enjoy on a daily basis. My goal is to give (dieters) foods that they enjoy, that are doable for long-term lifestyle changes and help them work those foods into a healthy diet.
"I try to get people to understand that for a snack in the afternoon, if they really want chocolate, but eat a banana, they'll ultimately eat both anyway. I get them to think about what they really want to spend calories on. That's what is going to lead to success in weight loss and maintenance."
So Saturday, she's going to look at some common choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner that people make and point out why they are being misled by thinking those are healthy selections. Then she'll provide a similar alternative that is lower in calories and fat.
Here are some of her examples:
* Instead of: One bagel with cream cheese and a glass of fruit juice (660 calories).
Try: One slice of whole-grain toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter, and one orange (260 calories).
"A bagel is the caloric equivalent of four slices of bread," Ms. McDermott said. Plus, she always recommends dieters "not drink their fruit but eat it. They'll be much more satisfied."
* Instead of: A tuna salad sandwich with a bag of baked chips (660 calories).
Try: A half-cup of tuna on a bed of mixed greens with a smaller portion of baked chips (400 calories).
"The tuna salad sandwich isn't a diet disaster. However, it's high enough to prevent weight loss because of the mayonnaise in the tuna. If you want tuna, have it with greens, and you've lost the calories from the bread, (and) you're still getting your protein and some low-fat carbs from the baked chips," she said.
* Instead of: Two slices of thick-crust Meatlovers pizza (800-900 calories).
Try: Two slices of thin-crust, one-meat pizza (500 calories).
"We need to learn how to eat our favorite foods in small portions," she said. "The more someone says no to those things, the more they want them, and ultimately they'll end up eating them."