Taming the Cookie Monster: Win the Battle Against the Munchies

Living Without Hunger

In our society, people live in hunger because the prevailing messages are "I don't have time to eat" and "food is fattening."

Athletes believe the best way to lose weight is to severely restrict calories. The only opportunity dieters have to eat cookies (and other tasty foods) is when they "blow" their diets and turn into cookie monsters.

But there is another way to manage cookies:

1. Prevent hunger by eating enough at meals. You can lose weight by eating 10 to 20 percent fewer calories, not 50 percent fewer.

2. Enjoy a cookie or two as a part of an overall healthful daily food plan.

To know how many calories (and cookies) you are entitled to eat to negate hunger and manage your weight, do this simple math.

  • Take your weight (or a good weight for your body) and multiply it by 10. This estimates your resting metabolic rate (RMR, the amount of energy you need to simply exist, pump blood, breathe, etc.). If you weigh 140 pounds, your RMR is about 1,400 calories -- the amount you'd burn if you were to run for 14 miles!
  • Add to your RMR about half that number for activities of daily living. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds and are moderately active (without your purposeful exercise), you need about 700 calories for daily living. Add fewer calories if you are sedentary.
  • Next, add calories for purposeful exercise. For example, a 140-pound person would need about 1,400 calories (RMR) + 700 (daily living) + 300 (for 30 minutes of exercise) = 2,400 calories to maintain weight.
  • To lose weight, deduct 20 percent, to about 1,900 calories. This translates into 600 calories for breakfast/snack, 700 for lunch/snack, and 600 for dinner/snack (or the equivalent of 11-13 Fig Newtons per section of the day.)

The next time you get into a cookie frenzy, use food labels to calculate your day's intake. You'll likely see a huge discrepancy between what you have eaten and what your body deserves. No wonder you are craving cookies!

Once you recognize the power of hunger, you can take steps to prevent it by eating before you get too hungry.

Living With Cookies

If you like cookies too much--to the extent you have trouble stopping eating them once you start -- the way to take the power away from cookies is to eat them more often (in appropriate portions) and not try to "stay away from them."

Apples likely have no "power" over you because you give yourself permission to eat an apple whenever you want. But cookies will have power over you if you routinely restrict them. By enjoying a cookie with every lunch, you'll start to want fewer cookies. They will lose their appeal and the cookie monster will rest in its cage, peacefully.

Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) counsels casual and competitive athletes in her private practice at Healthworks, the premier fitness center in Chestnut Hill MA (617-383-6100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            617-383-6100      end_of_the_skype_highlighting). Her Sports Nutrition Guidebook, new Food Guide for Marathoners, and Cyclist's Food Guide are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com. Also see www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com for information about her online workshop.
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