But What About My Bad Habits

If you want to be healthy and free of surplus body fat, then you cannot return to a perfectly random and careless pattern of eating. That's why one of the chief purposes of this book has been to build good habits into your lifestyle. Of course, we all have bad habits. Food is so confusing, so delicious, so psychologically essential even at times when it's not physiologically necessary. We all eat for pleasure and for reassurance, as well as for nutrition.

It may have been a hard week at work, and come the weekend you definitely intend to engage in some modest pigging out. I, too, enjoy the occasional binge. The question really is what type of binge. People usually binge on chocolates, desserts, cookies, ice cream and candy. Today there is a world of controlled carb products in all these taste-tempting categories, and I strongly recommend that they become part of your Lifetime Maintenance program so that you will enjoy the maximum eating pleasure. But even with these remarkable inventions, you could, by overdoing, still get into trouble. A controlled carb chocolate bar may have only 2 grams of carbohydrates that impact on your blood sugar compared to 17 to 20 carb grams in the sugar-filled variety of comparable size. But eat five of them and you could well be back to the same kind of destructive behavior that got you in trouble in the first place.

So you have two choices: You can use some of these delicious treats in moderation, the way they are meant to be used. Or, if you absolutely must binge, binge on protein/fat foods. I say that not because you can't gain a pound or two if you put away too many lamb chops, but because protein foods are fundamentally self-limiting. Most everyone has eaten thirty cookies at one sitting at some time in their life, and many carbohydrate addicts have done it hundreds of times, but how many people have eaten ten hard-boiled eggs at one sitting? Protein and fat foods satiate appetite quite quickly. It really isn't possible to go on munching them endlessly, and hardly anyone desires to. (Nuts and seeds may be the exception, but they are still better than cookies.) That doesn't mean a chicken breast doesn't make a delicious snack, and that, combined with a few other things, it couldn't constitute a delicious minor binge.

The crucial fact about protein foods is that they don't unleash a metabolic tidal wave in your body. Very few people get addicted to protein. Your blood-glucose level doesn't sharply rise and fall when you sit down to eat a Cobb salad. But it does just that when you chow down a slice of pie. That leads to the "need" for another slice and then another.

I don't want to scare you with the prospect of never eating another piece of Grandma's pumpkin pie. If you weren't an uncontrolled carbohydrate addict with an obesity problem that only this program has been able to cure, then you might cautiously see if you can indulge occasionally without causing noticeable aftereffects.

Trigger foods-ones to which you are addicted-are the ones you can't stop eating, and they are the very foods you should not add back. It might be peanuts, chocolate, potato chips or something else. If you find you are always planning when you can have your next portion of that food, cut it out altogether, or be sure to have it just once a week, perhaps as a Friday night treat. Only you know whether the first or the second strategy will work better for you. Remember, it's about what works! (For more on bingeing and strategies to minimize its damage, see Chapter 19.)

If you aren't addicted, then you have room to maneuver. The occasional slice of pizza or the ice cream cone just might be permissible. I don't recommend such compromises, I simply recognize that human nature demands them now and then. But be careful: Remember 5 pounds above your goal weight is the maximum; then take yourself firmly in hand and get back on plan. A firm resolution to deal with weight regain immediately will serve you well. An even better idea is to hold out for sugarless, full-fat ice cream.

And, don't forget, the way you're eating now is healthful. Junk food isn't, and it isn't going to make you feel good. After you've been off it for a while, the ice cream or the pizza go down nicely, but once you've eaten them, you may notice a temporary return of some familiar old symptoms. Many of my patients tell me that after not eating junk food for months while doing Atkins, the distress they experience when they do eat it has cured them of these urges once and for all.

Gaining Weight 101

Gaining Weight 101

Find out why long exhausting workouts may do more harm than good. Most of the body-building workout and diet regimens out there are designed for the guys that gain muscle and fat easily. They focus on eating less and working out more in order to cut the excess fat from their bodies while adding needed muscle tone.

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