Columns for The Lufkin News

My Bar Code Diet

Posted Aug 05, 2014 by Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

In December 2013, I wrote a column about my brother's heart attack and my wakeup call to lose weight. I promised to report back on my progress. I just didn't think it would take this long!

The reason you haven't heard from me earlier is because the first several months were spent researching weight loss techniques and plans rather than actually doing anything about it. As a matter of fact, I gained an additional eight pounds while contemplating dieting, which proves that just thinking about food adds weight!

We love to talk about losing weight. Actually doing it is much harder. It takes commitment. And, we only commit to something we truly think will work. I am happy to report now that not only did I lose the weight I gained, I lost an additional eleven pounds. So, I am now 19 pounds down from my max!

How did I do it? Wait for it...

Diet and exercise! I used to joke that bulimia was better than exercise. Bad joke. I did not go that route. I opted for the simple math: calories in < calories out.

It was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be, once I made some key decisions. First, I had to stop eating hospital food. I just didn't know how many calories I was eating! More importantly, I had to track how much I was eating.

Hence, my Bar Code Diet. If I couldn't scan it into my phone, I didn't put it in my mouth, with rare exceptions. There are iPhone and android apps (like Lose It or My Fitness Pal) which will help you set a goal for weight loss. You enter your starting weight, your target weight, and how much you want to lose per week. Generally, 1-2# is typical. The apps then tells you how many calories per day you can eat and how long it will take you to get to your goal, assuming you are compliant with the diet. You scan the bar code with your smart phone and it tracks how many calories you eat. You can even track calories burned with exercise. These apps have many chain restaurant menus on file, so it is possible to eat out and still track your calories. I don’t recommend it, though, because portion sizes in restaurants are generally huge and it is hard to stop mid meal.

Every day starts with breakfast. Even if it is only a latte, you need to consume some calories (including some carbohydrates) within 30 minutes of waking up to reset your hormone and blood sugar levels.

My favorite meals to take with me are Hormel Compleats (not frozen, but need to be microwaved) or Zone bars (taste great and are easy to grab and go). And in the evening at home, often an Atkins frozen meal is quite satisfying, plus it limits carbs in the evening, which can keep you from getting hungry in the middle of the night (or from waking up starving). Of course, our metabolism slows as we age, so exercise (including some strength training) is essential. Even walking can be a great start if you haven’t done any exercise at all.

This isn’t fad dieting. It is simply counting calories. Anyone can do that nowadays. Not only did I lose nineteen pounds, I also dropped my cholesterol 40 points. I don't have acid reflux anymore. I sleep well at night. I feel better. And I know that my risk of both heart disease and cancer will be less as a result.

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Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

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Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

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Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

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