Friday, January 15, 2010

Alton Brown minus 50 lbs.

Have you seen the "Good Eats" episode about Alton Brown's 50 lb weight loss? It is so interesting and I feel like I have seen it on a few times a week since the beginning of the year. In the episode, Alton talks about how he lost 50 lbs by following the food pyramid and increasing his physical activity. He gave himself a set of rules and guidelines to follow that would allow his body to have increased energy and operate more efficiently while cutting back on calories and fat. Here is a list of his rules.

-whole grains
-leafy greens
-green tea

3 times a week
-oily fish
-sweet potato

Once a week
-red meat

-fast food
-processed meals/frozen dinners
-canned soup
-"diet" anything

Eat breakfast everyday, no matter what.

I thought this list was intriguing. It seems like a good outline to follow and easy to implement. After looking at the list and thinking about the things I eat, I can definitely make some improvements. Definitely more grains and nuts need to be added everyday. I happily can eat more yogurt and sweet potatoes. I don't mind not eating as much red meat and since I don't drink anyways, eliminating alcohol isn't hard. What I might be sad to see go is soda. I love a cold diet fizzy.

The fact of the matter is- these hips don't lie. Yes, these hips are about 5 months pregnant, but that just means that now more than ever, I need to be better about putting more leafy greens and nuts into my body instead of more Haagen Dazs chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

After reading through the list, what are your thoughts?


keely steger said...

It definitely sounds do-able. I had heard he was eating a lot of sardines? I have no idea where that came from but was repulsed by the thought. This plan sounds better. :)

Frieda said...

50 lbs? I don't think I've ever seen Alton Brown as a heavy guy...This list is doable! I know my hubby would be looking for ice cream on this list. My father in law was diagnosed with a condition that required him to be on a no-salt diet. He has lost 40 lbs in the last 4 months~ there is salt in EVERYTHING...even water! It makes me grateful that we can cook!

Nan said...

everything doable but the soda, I don't think I even know how to cook without a cherry coke zero or a route 44 diet vanilla! I like simple conversations on food like this.

Erin said...

I'm really curious about the "diet" anything... Why do you think that is on the never list? Do you think that includes things like fat free or low sugar? I realize that I never buy low fat things when it's an option, like with sour cream or cottage cheese, and I wonder if I should. I also never realized that nuts were so good.

Señora H-B said...

I think that "diet" things would be excluded for a couple of reasons. The low fat items generally up the sugar content to compensate for the lack of fat. Low sugar items generally contain artificial sweetener and there is mounting evidence of a link between artificial sweeteners and weight gain. It also seems like his eating plan was geared toward eating more natural foods and avoiding heavily processed things, which most foods marketed as low fat or low sugar are.

I'm really intrigued by the diet plan as well. It seems so simple to make a list of more do's than don'ts. Thanks for sharing!

rookie cookie said...

He said that he doesn't eat "diet anything" because he isn't on a diet. Makes sense to me. He made lifestyle changes, not a diet.

To change your entire way of thinking about diet foods or food labeled low sugar or low fat, read "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. That book will change your life.

Mrs. Organic said...

Wait. No chicken?

rookie cookie said...

@Mrs. Organic - This was just his list of musts and must nots. Fish takes priority over chicken.

Rae said...

I am definitely interested in checking out that episode of "Good Eats". I watch "Iron Chef America" with my kids and have noticed how thin he's gotten. I think he looks painfully thin. One of my girls also noticed and asked if he was sick and dying.....not necessarily a good look!!!

rookie cookie said...

@Rae - I think sometimes we American's are so used to seeing people being overweight that we have forgotten what fit and healthy looks like.

Genevieve said...

Sounds like a pretty fantastic list. I think I could def live by these guidelines after awhile.

Melanie said...

I agree with Frieda, I've never thought of Alton Brown as a heavy guy and if HE can lose 50 pounds, I can do more to lose the 15 pounds that has been plaguing me forever. I really need to catch that Good Eats episode, plus I'm going to get the book you talked about in your followup comment. You are always a wealth of knowledge. I love to analyze food and figure out what is good and bad. I don't use anything on his "never" list but it's incorporating the other foods in a more healthful way that I need to be better at (we eat a lot of high fat items like cheese, sour cream and I should be better at limiting those and eating more healthy fats). Oh, and exercise? I need to make an extra effort for that as well...yeah, basically, I have a lot of work to do.

Donna said...

I started something like this a couple of months ago and have lost 7 lbs. Slow but steady, and it feels good!

Joni Gardine said...

"In Defense of Food" is one of my favorite books. Ever. It has changed the way I look at everything at the grocery store, and has definitely changed the way my family and I eat forever. We've taken "meat meals" down to twice a week, and all of us feel better. I'm finally living that "eat meat sparingly" part of the Word of Wisdom I always used to gloss over.

I will have to check out this episode of Good Eats. I love the whole concept. Isn't common sense so refreshing?

Cafe Johnsonia said...

I know, I know, I know! I feel like I'm seeing this kind of thing all over the place.

It makes sense to me. It really, really does. I think I can do it.

I also like the quote from Michael Pollan (or was it someone else?) that says, "Eat. But not too much. And mostly fruits and veggies."

So, there you go. I've got more than 50 to lose...but that's a good place to start.

{natalie} said...

i love chocolate PB icecream!

[Morgan] said...

i so agree with you on the fact that we've forgotten what fit and healthy look like.
about 4 years ago i went on a nearly all raw diet. (for health reasons)
i cut out ALL sugars and lived on raw fruits and veggies with a tiny allowance of pasta - sans sauce (only olive oil and garlic salt to put on them) potatoes and yams. i only drank water.
i lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks. i have NEVER felt better, i had energy and i looked great. but, my friends and family all thought i was too skinny and were so worried that i wasn't healthy. what?!
you are so right, we are used to being/seeing overweight.

i think it's true what they say,that we are what we eat. and in my case, i definitely could be better about my intake:)

[Morgan] said...

oh, and nuts. i ate nuts too.
i fell in love with almonds during those months.

Sparks said...

This conversation really frustrates me. It's an awful reminder of how freaking fat and stupid America is. Sorry, but I'm including most of your readers, Whit. We have forgotten what healthy looks like and it's pathetic. We have forgotten how to eat. (Oh, and when I say "we" I don't mean me; it's here that I get to be arrogant.)

It's so maddening. It's not hard. It's not hard to know what to eat, but when someone famous--let's say Alton Brown--does it right, does it simple, we recall what's smart and some call it revolutionary. It makes me mad and frustrated.

Why? Because Americans' stupid-ass decisions are what keep me in a job.

Oh, and Cafe, yes, that was Michael Pollan's quote. It's in In Defense of Food. It might even be the subtitle.

rookie cookie said...

@Sparks - I think what is so revolutionary is that Alton understands food and the science behind it better than anyone else that write cookbooks and makes TV shows. He is able to break food science down and make it understandable. That's what his entire show is about. So when he takes on his diet and does a show about that, he makes it understandable and uncomplicated. I showed this list to Dad and he loved it. He said it seems welcoming and easy to implement.

I guess what is revolutionary is Alton breaking something down that is so it is easy to understand, like every other episode he has done.

The real problem is this: Who has the most money? The real food industry or the rest of the food industry. There is no ad campaign for apples and eggplant and barley. But there are ad campaigns for Taco Bell's Super Triple Decker Enchilada Steak Burrito with Extra Cheese and Sour Cream.

@EVERYONE - Read Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food". You will love it.

Nan said...

In "defense of food" is a great book. The take away is, don't eat broccoli because its loaded with phytochemicals, and micro nutrients but eat it because it is REAL FOOD. Don't eat a pre-packed, processed snacks because its isn't FOOD, its a food like substance.

the binghams. said...

you're fabulous and i kind of want to be you. (minus the 5 months pregnant part- i'm not ready for baby #2 yet :) i LOVED this list and I realllllyyy need to implement these things. thanks so much. you're awesome. oh and i made pumpkin churros last week (those could probably go in a ONCE A YEAR category) and they were amazing- and a huge hit with friends and then i made them again for my in laws the next day and they loved them too. they even impressed my mother in law, so thanks again.

rookie cookie said...

@the binghams - Glad you liked the pumpkin churros. And I am glad you made them in the winter. There is no rule saying you can't have pumpkin past Thanksgiving. So bravo.

Emily said...

Does canned tuna count as oily fish? I want to do this but I'm stuck on the fish part.

ec said...

this has been an interesting convo to read. i agree with you, whitney, when you talk about money and who's got it.

people don't know how to eat anymore. some families are so far gone, that education about what to CHOOSE to eat isn't even happening, and when it is, it's probably misguided ... by advertising.

i'm grateful for my mom who cared enough about eating right that she educated herself, and then taught us.

the list is great. it's short and sweet and simple. a good reminder. worth printing off and hanging somewhere you can see it everyday.

ec said...

p.s. totally reading that book.

rookie cookie said...

@emily - When he says oily fish, he means fish that is high in omega-3s. Below is a list of oily fish:
Tuna (fresh only)
Orange roughy

If you aren't a huge fish fan but want to be, I would start with salmon. It's mildly fishy and extremely easy to prepare. Just the other night, we had hoisin-marinated salmon. It's full of flavor and easy to make. Here is a link to the recipe:

Honestly, my index doesn't have a good variety of fish dishes. I live in the Rocky Mountains and great seafood is hard to come by. But I will see if I can be better about putting together some more fish recipes.

rookie cookie said...

@ec - You will love "In Defense of Food". Life changing. The first half is kind of hard to follow, at least it was for me. But stick with it, you will come away a changed woman.

Emily said...

We eat a lot of salmon but I don't know if we could do that three times a week. Holy mackerel! (fish humor. Get it?)

We just buy the frozen filets at costco. No scales or anything to deal with. You should beef up your fish section if you're going to eat it three times a week. I can't wait to see what you do with eels. :)

Emily said...

It's really too bad cod and halibut aren't on the list. Those are the other two I know how to cook. Maybe I could soak them in anchovies first.

Sarah said...

I love a "diet" that is actually okay to follow, makes sense, and allows dessert occasionally. Alton has always made sense to me though.

Jones Family said...

There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat! Drinking one regular soda a day for a year is the equivalent of 28 pounds!

rookie cookie said...

@Jones Family - That's revolting.

Jessica said...

I don't ever watch food shows, but I've heard good things about Alton Brown. I'm always interested by these discussions because these rules are essentially the guidelines Mormon people should be following based on our religion (you know, minus the alcohol). Although, I do think "In Defense of food" does a nice job of breaking it down for us.

Jessica said...

p.s. not to say that all your readers are Mormon, because I know you have a variety of readers...

Sparks said...

Jessica makes a good point. One you and I have talked about, Whit. The Word of Wisdom. How many Mormons actually live it? Oh, so very few, but they answer in the affirmative when the Bishop asks them in a recommend interview.

"Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?"



My favorite part of Section 89:

12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

(D&C 59:20 helps out with "used": And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.)

Let's review that last part again: that they should NOT be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or of famine.

Mormons are big time meat eaters. And it's not a time of winter, cold or famine. And don't give me any kind of a response that says, "But it is winter." Don't be an idiot, people, our winter is different from that of the times of the D&C revelations. We can get the kinds of food in winter that they could not. We don't kill and store our own meat.

I love how people say that they try to eat meat sparingly. It's total crap.

rookie cookie said...

@Sparks - Broad statement there dear sister. Clarification- not all Mormons are big meat eaters. But a lot are.

Interpretation to the Word of Wisdom is left to the individual. Let's say there is a family who eats meat 4 times a week. They read the Word of Wisdom again during FHE and decide they need to cut down on meat consumption, plus, meatless meals are cheaper. Anyways, they decide to only eat meat 2 times a week. For them, they are willing to sacrifice something in the name of faith. So could they answer that temple recommend question honestly, I truly believe so.

@Jessica - I couldn't agree with you more. It's no coincidence that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to Joseph Smith long ago. Now, it is almost exactly what the food pyramid is.

@EVERYONE - Haven't a clue what the Word of Wisdom is? Go here:

Sparks said...

Broad statement? Sure. Overstatement? Yeah. But too close to Accurate to have any real dispute over? Yup.

Too damn many Mormons are fatties. It really pisses me off. We have the truth here. We know how to eat. GOD SAID SO. Yet the bulk of the people of my faith eat like they have no idea how to do so in a healthy manner. Terrifically, they turn a blind eye to the Word of Wisdom.

13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

That they should NOT be used. I'm not disputing "sparingly." Sure, define that however you want. But "NOT" isn't a word open for a whole lot of dispute. We don't fall into the "times of winter, or of cold, or of famine." We just don't.

I take food and eating really seriously. To the extreme? Probably. I take most things to the extreme. But it's right about now that I feel like I have God on my side. Eat less meat. However much you're eating, eat less of it and you'll be doing a better job of actually doing what you already say you are.

Is this some step out of my norm trying to get people--Mormons and otherwise--to eat vegetarian? No. Just to eat less meat. Less. I'm not saying give it up. I'm saying, like D&C does, to ratchet it back.

Sparks said...

We all have our areas. Areas where we get impassioned. I care a lot about the food thing.

I care less about swearing.

Staci said...

Sparks--laugh, laugh, laugh. It is rare for me to read something and literally laugh out loud. I'm so very glad you can see your own ironies.

I'm not so sure how I feel about this topic because my husband is Argentine and absolutely insists on eating meat at every meal. Consequently, my halfway vegetarian upbringing has gone by the wayside. I've tried to fight the fight but gave up long ago and now consume loads of animal flesh. Sigh.

On the other hand, I can't stand it that so many people don't eat real food. Generally speaking, if it comes pre-made, I don't eat it. (Don't hold me to that or anything.)

Staci said...

Oh yeah, and yesterday my brother in law was trying to convince me that "dairy fat" is a "healthy fat." This is what I'm up against.

Jessica said...

I recently read some research that showed that Utah actually has a higher than average level of consumption of animal products (dairy, meat, etc.). Interesting given our discussion.

I'm looking for the research so I can give you a link...

heather said...

it makes me think:

"i can't even remember the last time i had 'oily fish'."

AND "if I don't eat healthy, that means my family doesn't eat healthy. yikes."

rookie cookie said...

@Sparks - You know exactly how I feel about this issue. We have talked about it in person and on the phone plenty of times. Should enormous Sister So-And-So be temple worthy? Is she keeping the Word of Wisdom???

For me, the WOW means more about what we put into our bodies and less of what we shouldn't. Whole grains, fruit, veggies. Yes, most Mormon families suck at that. Just take a look at the average ward potluck. What to do??? CHANGE THE TIDES! Don't fulfill that food assignment for funeral potatoes with sour cream laden crap. Bring roasted potatoes with fresh herbs. Instead of a green salad, bring tabbouleh. Broaden your spectrum! Less taco salad and more veggie tacos! The changes you make within your own family will effect generations. It really will. You are the cook of your family and you have all the power.

rookie cookie said...

@Sparks - I like swearing. You know I do. It's a crutch I am willing to tote forever.

@Staci - Tell the husband what I tell mine. "I am not a restaurant. Get your own dinner if you don't like mine." And he does if he is being a big enough brat.

@Heather - Now is the time you can get Wendy to eat fish. Hurry quick before she is 4 years old and starts asking questions like she is Sherlock.

Azúcar said...

I like what my dad has to say about the WOW.

And I like sardines. But mostly when they're fresh.

And I wish with all my heart I could get my husband to stop eating/demanding so much meat and soda.

And I wish my children wouldn't throw tantrums about oatmeal/veggies/nuts/whole grains.

I wish I could only eat the way that Alton eats.

Sparks said...

Hoskisson, Azucar? That was your maiden name?

Let's abandon any discussion on the WOW and discuss at length what a bummer that was.

rookie cookie said...

@Azucar - Interesting article. Thanks for the link. I like the point of view about the WOW. I am going to print it out and highlight my favorite parts.

@Sparks - Magillicutty is a pretty bummer last name too.

Azúcar said...

Oh Sparks, I wish I'd kept it, what does that tell you about my married name? :)


Now, we eat pretty healthy in these parts (other than my husband's soda problem, which doesn't percolate to the rest of us, thank goodness,) but this post inspired this morning.

I have this 7 whole grain hot cereal that I love and that the kids whine every time I make. I decided that I'd do whatever it took to get them to eat it. So I made it different ways, one for each kid, runnier, sweeter, their choice of honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup, etc., and they ATE IT! With minimal complaining! I think we're doing whole grain hot cereal from now on, even if I am fixing it three ways.

My greatest mom-nutrition success? Banning juice. They can have water or milk. End of story.

Donna said...

I don't think eating meat is what is making people fat. It is better for us to eat less, but we are overweight as a society because our portions are HUGE and our calorie intake is excessive. We need to eat nutrient rich foods, and save the treats for occasional eating.

It takes an hour on the treadmill to burn off one cookie...yikes

rookie cookie said...

@Azucar - Nice work on the breakfast front. Kicking ass and taking names.

Banning juice eh? Not only is that nutritionally smart, it's also financially smart. Good juice is expensive and tastes great- which is a problem because it gets gulped a lot faster and then you have to buy more. I would ban juice if I didn't love my morning orange juice like a coffee drinker loves their morning cuppa joe.

@Donna - Thank you for bringing the conversation back down to the bones of the post. You are right. Meat isn't what makes you fat. It's too much of anything that makes you fat and unhealthy.

Sparks said...

Never said that meat is what makes you fat. Stupidity too often is. That and carelessness. And selective ignorance.

One of the endocrinologists I call on actually tells his patients that their problem is that they don't push away from the table soon enough. He tells them that their diabetes would be a significantly smaller problem if they'd just get off their asses and eat less. Abrasive maybe, but correct to be sure.

Sparks said...

Patients and those who should be patients but just don't go to the doc like they should need more tough love. Less coddling.

rookie cookie said...

@Sparks - That reminds me of something you told me that is quite similar. You were at a conference somewhere and a doctor said that when his patients ask him what they can do to lose weight, he says 5 things.
1. Eat less.
2. Eat less.
3. Eat less.
4. Eat less.
5. Get exercise.

Goes right along with the Michael Pollan quote. "Eat. But not too much. And mostly fruits and vegetables".

And right now I am feeling really good about my lunch. Green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados and red wine vinaigrette. It was so damned good.

And then I just remembered a repeated conversation I have had with my husband. Here is a question for everyone, "How often do you eat some type of fast food and finish and say to yourself, 'That was so satisfying!'". Probably never.

rookie cookie said...

@Sparks - Less coddling indeed. Forget government run health care reform. How about a whole new program called Personal Health Care Reform.

Sparks said...

It was the training I went to at Duke. I think of those 6 steps the doc mentioned nearly every day.

Personal Health Care Reform. Here! Here!

The Dunford Family said...

Never commented, but this is the best discussion. Oh how I wish Sparks would guest teach our Gospel Doctrine class! A little cussing in the middle of scripture quoting would pack that class full.

My husband and I have discussed this Alton Brown episode several times. It's amazing that something so common place as the food pyramid could be so "revolutionary". Goes to show that getting back to basics is just what all of us need.

rookie cookie said...

@Dunford Family - Sparks actually teaches Relief Society. But I am pretty sure she doesn't swear. Too bad. That really could liven things up.

But welcome to the conversation. I hope you aren't "dun" commenting. HA! ha ha. Pun not that funny.

Sparks said...

Unfortunately, Dun family, my love of curse words doesn't extend to my time teaching R.S. At least I don't think it does, for I still have the job which probably means I haven't blacked out and let loose a string to shame a sailor. Haven't yet been fired.

Sorry for hijacking the commend string, sis. What with me abandoning my own blog, I sometimes have to just let loose and I decided that your comments can be a good place for that every now and again.

JILB said...

I took a nutrition class last fall that used the "mypyramid" nutritonal site as it's guide. We mapped out our eating and exercise style at the time and it some other criteria, the program analyzed it and gave us a customized plan. I thought I ate well but was too high and too low in some areas... and of course my exercise was too low. It's worth checking out and Alton's weight lose is proof. I felt better while I was following it. Hmmm... might be my belated resolution. :)

sarah22277 said...

This all seems so basic, but it can be hard to do. I also have banned juice for my kids, except as a special treat, and try to stick with whole foods. I don't know if reduced fat dairy products would fall into "diet" foods- for example, reduced fat sour cream (if you reads labels and buy the right brands) is simply made with low fat milk, instead of whole milk. It can be a simple substitution. My biggest problem with the convenience of both fast food and some frozen food products on those nights when I don't feel like cooking. And I work in a bakery, so I am literally surrounded by food. I should lose about 20 pounds, although I have lost all of my pregnancy weight and then some. I need to keep the "eat less, exercise more" mantra in my head.