Lean Plate Club

Sally Squires
Washington Post Health and Nutrition Writer
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; 1:00 PM

Confused about nutrition? Wondering how to fit in more physical activity? Welcome to the Lean Plate Club. Ask Sally Squires, nationally syndicated Lean Plate Club columnist for the Washington Post, about eating smart and moving more every Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. Sally draws upon her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University to preside over the lively Lean Plate Club web chat. Whether you're trying to reach a healthier weight or simply maintain it, you'll find plenty of tips and strategies.

Share your own food finds, creative workouts and secrets for healthy, great tasting meals. We'll cheer your successes and help with your setbacks. (None of this, of course, is a substitute for medical advice.) E-mail Sally, author of the newly published Secrets of the Lean Plate Club (St. Martin's Press) at leanplateclub@washpost.com.

Or just sign up for the free Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter. The Lean Plate Club column appears Tuesdays in the Washington Post Health section and is nationally syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Find other Lean Plate Club members at www.frappr.com/leanplateclub.

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Discussion Transcripts

A transcript follows.


Sally Squires: Welcome to the Lean Plate Club! Hope all of you had a great Labor Day weekend.

The Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter should be hitting your in-boxes any time now. In it, find links to healthy recipes, some of the latest nutrition news and a new book that shows you how to lose pounds, but not dollars, and of course ways to move more.

Which leads me to my first question of this chat:

Shall we start a Lean Plate Club book club and DVD club? What say you members?

And if there are other things that you'd like us to tackle, please weigh in on those too. Or e-mail me anytime at leanplateclub@washpost.com. I read every e-mail and respond to as many personally as time permits.

Now on to the chat:


Washington, D.C.: Interesting topic on food addiction. When I started Weight Watchers almost 4 years ago today and 65 pounds heavier, I would not have thought that I had a food addiction. Today I can admit that I did have one and that I still struggle to manage that addiction. I have successfully maintained my weight loss and continue to exercise regularly. That being said, some days are harder than others and I do believe that some of the tips people in AA use can help those of us addicted to food. One good example is to focus on today. What do I need to do to eat healthy and within my points today...and to get in a good amount of physical activity? It is amazing what it takes to be aware...and to tackle the problem head on.

Sally Squires: It sure is. And another message to take from the addiction field is that every day is a new day, a fresh start. Same goes for each meal. There's a tendency to think if you've "blown" one meal, that the whole day is shot. But that's far from the truth. Everybody -- and I mean everybody -- slips from time to time. The challenge is how fast you can recover. Thanks for chiming in and continued success with your efforts.


Falls Church, Va.: If you question whether food can be addictive, ask yourself if you have eaten sugary or starchy food and then found that you wanted more sugar/starch even though you felt full. Have you ever eaten sugar to pep yourself up when you were feeling tired similar to the way you would use caffeine or eaten to cover up uncomfortable feelings such as the break up of a relationship? Have you fallen asleep after eating a heavy meal with lots of bread or potatoes? Foods do have a powerful affect on brain chemistry.

Complete abstinence from eating is not possible, but complete abstinence from eating the foods that usually cause addictive reactions (sugar/starch/grains) is very possible. There are several 12-Step groups that promote this concept and they work. I am in one of them. Some of them are Grey Sheet (greysheet.org), OA H.O.W., and Food Addicts Anonymous. They advocate a defined eating plan that eliminates trigger foods.

It's wonderful to see that mainstream medicine is realizing that food addiction may be a real problem and not just a matter of willpower. Thanks for the article!

Sally Squires: You're very welcome. And thanks for adding those additional groups as resources.


Washington, D.C.: I agree that food is an addiction but unlike the others we have to have food to live. However, all the creamy, greasy, cheesy foods are so good and when you are overweight, this is about it in pleasure. When you have a ton of weight to loose, it seems like you will never ever make a weight goal. I have lost over 30 pounds -- just by giving up all of the good stuff that made me fat, I still have a very long way to go but I do not what to be fat anymore, I want to change the way I look and feel and honestly I want to change the way people think of me. I am the same person and I want respect and I want to live.

Sally Squires: Congratulations on those 30 pounds, DC.Sounds like you are really getting into the groove. As you already know, it's only by changing habits -- reaching for the healthful "good" stuff -- and moving more that success can really be achieved. And I wonder if the trend towards more whole food that is unprocessed may help rekindle taste and cravings for more of the healthful good stuff. Last night, I had some grapes that really were "nature's candy."

Thoughts out there?


New London, N.H.: I am a new reader/member, so maybe this is "old hat," certainly the book has been out for several years, but my favorite is "The Business Plan for the Body" by Jim Karas. Very no-nonsense. (My only peeve is that he thinks diet sodas are okay, and I think they are counter productive for a number of reasons; but it is not as if he advocates soda as a health elixir, so I ignore that part.) Thank you for your interesting columns.

Sally Squires: Welcome New London! Nothing is "old hat" here. You'll find us to be a receptive group willing to discuss a wide range of topics. (Some we revisit too!)

And we love tips! So thanks for sharing yours today. Sounds interesting. I can feel that Lean Plate Club book/DVD club forming now...


Glen Burnie, Md.: When I eat breads and sugary foods I lose my interest in everything else and end up with a very fattening day! I love all the healthy foods but seem to be sugar addict -- doesn't take much to send me to the wrong side of the tracks. I am quite overweight and would love a way not to be so easily swayed. Can you help?

Sally Squires: You're not alone in this, Glen Burnie. You might try to slowly move to foods that have less or no added sugar. Fruit (grapes, cherries, berries and more) would be great choices for a sweet tooth. So is dried fruit (without added sugar.) Since that's more concentrated in natural sugars, you could slice and dice it for great flavor without sending your blood sugar soaring as high as eating a sugar cookie.

You might also try to switch to more whole grain bread and pasta if you don't already eat that. (Try this in place of the more highly processed white flour.)

Some of the 12-step food addiction groups believe that there is an addiction to processed flours and foods with added sugar. You're the best judge of whether this fits for you. You can try eliminating these foods cold turkey, or slowly replacing them. Again, you are the best judge of this.

And finally, if you do have a sugary food add some protein to it to help slow absorption. So think skim milk with a ginger snap. You get the idea. Good luck and hope you'll let us know how it goes.



New York, N.Y.: Sally,

There is a food addiction specialist in Florida named Kay Sheppard, whose book "Food Addiction: The Body Knows" is recommended reading for anybody interested in this subject. In my experience, certain foods (sugar, to name the primary offender, and there are others) are definitely addictive, in the most traditional sense of the word.

Sally Squires: Thanks New York. Sounds like another book for our list.


Royal Oak, Md.: Addiction: food is a comfort and this was so painfully clear when I'd injured my back boating a year ago. We were returning home and I was devouring everything in sight: extra sandwiches, cookies. I was conscious of it but keep thinking: I hope this'll help...I hope this'll help...I hope this'll help.

Sally Squires: Hope that your back injury is healed and that your food injury is better too! Thanks for chiming in.


cheese addiction: Sally,

I completely agree with your column today that it is possible to be addicted to food. Otherwise, why would I wake up every day for the past 10 years and think "this is the day I'm going to start eating right and lose weight" and fail by the end of the day, or at best, the next day? I've read that cheese has an ingredient similar to opiates and that it's very easy to become addicted to cheese.

I've tried not eating any and can last a couple days at most; I try substituting lowfat cottage cheese and that also works for a couple days, and then I go back to binging on full fat cheese (cheddar, goat, brie - whatever). The only time I successfully lost weight was when I lived overseas for a year in a country where cheese was rare; as soon as I came back to the U.S., I gained all the weight back. I just like the taste. I wish there was a way to get over that (short of leaving the country again). I'm only about 10-20 pounds overweight, so are there options other than Overeaters Anonymous? Given the reaction of some of my really overweight friends to my weight concerns, I don't think I'd be welcome there with only wanting to lose 10-20 pounds, but I feel miserable almost every day.

Sally Squires: Until scientists sort this out, you might try a couple of standard behavioral techniques.

1. Buy just a small amount of your favorite cheese. When it's gone, you're done until you decide the time is appropriate to get another small chunk.

2. What else are you eating on the days when you binge? And what else is happening in your life? If you're too restrictive, it's not unusual to want to eat everything on the table including the cloth. So try where you can to fit in healthful meals. You might even try eating about 10 or 15 minutes BEFORE you know you are likely to be ravenous. That can help shortcut that famished feeling that send caution to the winds.

3. Consider grating, slicing and dicing your cheese on salads, on sandwiches, etc. Sometimes a small amount of flavor -- when coupled with other healthy foods can go a long way.

And finally be sure to get enough sleep, activity and fluids. All can help keep you on an even keel.

Hope that helps and that you'll let us know how it goes.


Pat, N.J.: I'm not sure if its food addiction but I've noticed if I cut out sweets and junk food my body seems to go through withdrawal symptoms for the first few days -- dreadful headache, lack of energy. But by the fourth day I am over those feelings.

Sally Squires: Interesting. And does the cycle renew itself if you eat those foods again?


Shall we start a Lean Plate Club book club: great idea

Sally Squires: That's another vote for the LPC Book/DVD club. If you've got some suggestions, send them our way either in this chat or to my e-mail at leanplateclub@washpost.com.


Arlington, Va.: I had a gastric bypass 5 years ago to fix my weight problem "once and for all." I did lose weight, but a good deal of it came back. I was told that gastric bypass "is not brain surgery." I still craved the old foods.

I've since joined a 12-Step program for food addiction and have lost all the weight I regained and have kept it off -- without going nuts! I'm now maintaining a 180-pounds weight loss and am eating healthier than I ever have in my life. Food addiction is real and there are real solutions! Thanks for the article!

Sally Squires: Gastric bypass can be a very helpful surgery for some, but as you so correctly note, it's not the surgery that helps you succeed, but those same old changes in habits. We'll post a Lean Plate Club column on this very topic in a minute. By the way, congratulations on what you've accomplished!


Tip for staying on track: Hi Sally; always enjoy your column and chats. As a suggestion for helping keep in control, I open a bottle of water while preparing my meal or snack....which keeps me away from sampling most of the time. Cutting some thin slices of whole wheat batard, as an example, some fresh figs and some light cheese on a plate adorned with some blackberries, which looks as beautiful as it is healthy. That keeps my mind in the right place....so I don't stray before enjoying the meal or snack. Hope this will help some members too.

Sally Squires: This is a wonderful suggestion and it reminds me of the "plating" that some chefs and others in the restaurant industry use to keep from weighing a gazillion pounds. They fix a small plate and only eat from that while preparing food or serving it. As you point out, this strategy also works for home chefs too!


Respect: One thing I have a lot of trouble with is the idea that a fat person MUST be eating tons of sugary/greasy processed foods that are high in additives. I eat a very healthy and natural diet and find the idea that we're all out there gorging on doughnuts and Doritos very offensive. My problem is that I eat portions that would be fine for someone who gets regular exercise but don't get nearly enough exercise myself to compensate for my very sedentary job. We've all taken slightly different roads to get where we are -- can we address that here as well? I get really tired of people assuming I'm a pig (and telling me so!) when in fact I'm a very different animal: a sloth.

Sally Squires: Excellent point. And to reinforce it, just 100 extra calories daily can add up to an extra 10 pounds -- count 'em! -- per year. An extra 200 calories adds up to 20 pounds per year and 300 extra calories -- can add up to 30 pounds per year.

The flip side is that cutting that amount of calories can also result in weight loss of about that same amount. But food is so plentiful today -- and activity is so rare -- that many of us are indeed sloths, not pigs.


re: Cheese addiction: What if you purchase prepackaged single servings of cheese and allow yourself only one per day? I know Cracker Barrel has these.

Sally Squires: Great idea. And string cheese comes this way too, although it doesn't taste quite the same as a wonderful brie, Shropshire or Blue cheese. Feta cheese is another option. Many varieties only have about three quarters of the calories of regular cheese. And there are some tasty nonfat cheeses that can be used sometimes or mixed with the higher fat cheese. Thanks for chiming in.


Pittsburgh: Good Afternoon Sally!

I think it would be great to have a Book/DVD club, especially if we can have it set up for reviews and comments. So many of the books out there are very useful and helpful, but where one individual would appreciate a particular tone, another goes bonkers with!

This would make it much more of a reference resource, and easy to navigate.

Sally Squires: That's another vote for this new effort. Thanks Pittsburgh.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Is it food addiction? Or just the roller-coaster of blood sugar levels?

I find that if I eat, overall, more protein and fat, and fewer carbs (max: about 50 percent) that I can have some sugar, pastries, etc., in moderation, without being ravenous for more. But if I eat just carbs as a snack?? Whoa, Katie bar the door! I'm hungry again in an hour, and possibly shaky, too.

I don't think there's a simple answer to this question. It's probably a combination of psychological and brain chemistry factors -- and it's also going to differ from person to person.

Sally Squires: It is indeed going to differ from person to person -- another reason why it's important to find out what works best for you. Thanks for chiming in Gaithersburg.


Wayne, Pa.: I'm all for a book club, as long as we sort out the ones that are really good, not the hundreds out there that are unscientific (pretending to be science, like the blood type thing)... this is hard to do. I also realize that what works for one person may not work for another -- we all have different physical and emotional challenges. I have a friend who lost 30 lbs just giving up soda and fast food... well, I haven't had either of those for 30 years, so that tip doesn't help me. Lots of examples like that...

Sally Squires: Excellent points. And I like the idea of raising up the "don't miss" stuff rather than reviewing lots of things and then sorting through what works and doesn't. Other thoughts out there?


Zurich, Switzerland: Hi Sally, I have a food find. I often have leftover grilled chicken around the house. I make a great sandwich with a whole wheat roll, mustard, avocado, red bell pepper, and the chicken. It's full of lean protein, veggies, healthy fat, and whole grains!

Sally Squires: Yum. Sounds great. And reminds me that my food find has been at Costco, where I discovered some whole wheat flatbreads that can be used to be a sandwich roll. One flatbread is about 8 x 10 inches and has 130 calories. I slather a bit of hummus on it, fill with Romaine lettuce and other veggies and then top with some beans or 1-2 ounces of chicken. The point is you can use anything you have handy. Then roll it up and voila! A lovely filling sandwich that is hundreds of calories less than most "wraps."



washingtonpost.com: Choosing the Knife (Post, March 7, 2006)

Sally Squires: As promised on eating around gastric bypass surgery.


Maryland:"And I wonder if the trend towards more whole food that is unprocessed may help rekindle taste and cravings for more of the healthful good stuff."

Taste, yes. Cravings, no. I have found that since I swore off processed food and refined sugar and flour, I don't have what I would think of as cravings. To me, a craving feels like an emergency, somehow. "Must eat cookie now!" I can now watch TV commercials for cookies, candy, and all of the other things that used to trigger cravings and binges, and feel absolutely nothing. On the other hand, I certainly do now have a taste for whole foods and look forward to Saturdays at the farmer's market and cooking for myself at every meal. It's only been about six weeks, but I have lost 15 pounds without counting calories, eating unsatisfying "diet" foods, or -- most importantly -- obsessing about food.

Sally Squires: Fantastic, Maryland! And a great inspiration of how going back to the kitchen and to healthful food can really make a difference. Congratulations!


Fairfax, Va.: Regarding the tendency of dieters to "blow it" on one meal or occasion, and then use that as an excuse to continue to overeat that day (or that week...):

This is something I learned at Weight Watchers, and it helps to keep it in mind. If you buy a dozen eggs and one of them drops on the ground and breaks, you don't throw the other 11 on the ground just because the first one fell!

It sounds simple, but that mental image helps me to stay in control after a slipup.

Sally Squires: What a clever analogy. And yes, how silly would that be? Thanks for sharing the wisdom.


Low Carbville: Hi Sally,

I really enjoyed your article in Cooking Light Magazine. Anyway, my question is regarding low carb diets. I'm doing a version called Kimkin -- basically a low-fat version of Atkins. I'm in ketosis, but I'm wondering if it is a very unhealthy state. I have more energy that I've ever had before, my face has cleared up, and I dropped 20 pounds (almost 10 percent of my weight) like it was nothing. I'm borderline diabetic with PCOS and for the first time in years, my waking glucose levels are in the 90s. Is there a downside that I'm missing to ketosis?

Sally Squires: Well, you don't probably don't want to remain in ketosis indefinitely. I just did a quick search on-line at the National Library of Medicine and it looks like the only condition that this has been used for long term is uncontrollable epilepsy in kids. (And that's been controversial.)

You're likely not getting a lot of fiber in ketosis (unless you take fiber supplements.) So constipation and bad breath are often side-effects. But there does appear to be slightly greater weight loss with ketosis at least in the first few months of a diet. After that, the numbers even out so that they are statistically similar at 12 months to low-fat diets.

I assume that you are doing this under a doctor's supervision. If not, because of your medical conditions, do consult with your physician. And if so, stay in touch and follow his/her advice. Regular blood tests are also likely a good idea, just to be sure that everything is staying in normal ranges.

Continued success to you. Hope you'll let us know how it goes.


Portland, Maine: Sally,

Two points in response to discussion threads:

1. We learn to crave what we eat regularly. This is hard to believe, but true. For example, I learned to love plain nonfat yogurt, and now look forward to it, and try to eat it as a mid morning snack every day. I don't enjoy the sweetened yogurt anymore.

2. Love the idea of a book- or DVD- of the month club, like M.Singletary does. An online chat session, maybe in the evening, would be wonderful, to discuss the month's selection.

Keep up the great work!

Sally Squires: Thanks Portland!


Book/DVD review: I think this is a great idea...maybe one way to manage it is to limit the review to 1 or 2 books and DVD's per session...to allow for a comprehensive comparison and enough entries from enough members to help an LPC'r make an informed choice. There's always the Library as a first self-review before a purchase. I've done this many times and what I purchase I know I truly want to add to my collection. With a major disability, this is very important to me when thinking about exercise/strength training media. Thanks.

Sally Squires: Sounds good. And maybe we should think about having Lean Plate Club members as reviewers. We could have a set number and then rotate members through it. What say you?


Creamy, greasy, cheesy foods are so good : I don't really crave this stuff anymore, now that I'm not eating it regularly. In fact, if I go into a fast food place now the greasy smell makes me nauseous. Occasionally I think I want something greasy or unhealthy, but when I've got it in front of me I lose my appetite.

I think if you stick with it long enough, you will lose some of your desire for the bad stuff. I now think of the health stuff as the "good" stuff.

Sally, I'm with you on grapes as nature's candy. I like them frozen. A miniature popsicle.

Sally Squires: Yes indeed, although mine last night were fresh. But I've been freezing bananas for use later and finding them pretty tasty too in place of other more caloric treats. And frozen raspberries, cherries and other unsweetened fruit fit into that same luscious category. No cooking necessary! Plus you get an extra serving of fruit for the day. A win-win in my book!


Raleigh, NC: No question about it - I am addicted to ice cream. I've tried all the tricks and all the substitutes, but I still end up going for my favorite food. In fact, and this is terrible, most of my daily calories come from ice cream. At least I eat low fat no sugar added!

Sally Squires: The other trick is not to keep ice cream at home, but rather to enjoy it out and only in single servings. (I realize with some places that can be a very large serving, but you know what I mean.) And this also reminds me that dessert once was a real treat, not a given with most meals -- or between meals!

All food for thought. If we were all moving like Olympic athletes instead of slugs, it would make less of a difference!


Overeaters, Anonymous: To the poster who was worried about Overeaters Anonymous because she only had a few pounds to lose--I am a member of OA and can tell you that there are all sizes of people. I can't speak for all OA groups across the country but I know that our group would never judge someone who had a problem just because they weren't physically overweight.

Sally Squires: Thanks very much for chiming in. That's valuable info.


Canton, Ohio: I need a suggestion as to how to get started on walking 30 minutes a day when I have been sedentary for a long period of time. Seems difficult to just get up and start walking 30 minutes at a time, but that seems to be the recommendation by many health sites.

Sally Squires: Have I got a plan for you Canton. (And for the sake of full disclosure, I learned this from Steve Blair, now of the University of South Carolina, and Bess Marcus, at Brown University. Start with a two minute walk. Yes, I know that sounds small. Maybe even silly. But it's not. Nearly everybody -- even the most dedicated couch potato -- can do a two-minute walk. And once you do that, increase it to a three minute walk. Then four minutes, and then five. You get the idea.

It turns out that those 30 minutes don't have to all be gotten at the same time to reap health benefits. So start with two minutes and before you know it you'll be walking 30 minutes. And maybe more.

Another tip: just get up every hour of your work day and walk two to five minutes. In eight hours, you will have done between 16 to 40 minutes of activity. Again, something that nearly everyone can do.

Hope you'll let us know how it goes.


Bowie, Md.: Sally, thank you for the article on food and addiction! I believe the emotional/addiction connection to food is lost among diet and nutrition advice. I've lost 60 pounds and kept it off for over 2 years by dealing with the addictive nature of overeating by using a program called The Pathway (also known as the Solution) developed by Laurel Mellin. It has truly changed my life and relationship with food.

Sally Squires: Congratulations, Bowie. We've really got some significant poundage that has been trimmed by participants in today's chat. Who says that it's not possible to reach a healthier weight! Thanks.


Book/DVD review: Your rotational idea sounds perfect.

Sally Squires: Thanks! If you'd like to be a Lean Plate Club reviewer, please send your name, address and phone number to me at leanplateclub@washpost.com.


Minneapolis: Hi Sally:

I love the suggestion about a Book Club for the Lean Plate Club. My suggestion would be to try for an older book that changed or helped LPCers we might be able to get at the library. I have so many 'diet books' it's a bit depressing to add more. Or my other idea is that the Book Club be a tiered event. For example; announce one week that the theme is "food addiction", have everyone submit books they have read on the subject, and then you (and expert staff) can pick one for everyone to read.

Having said this I'm ready to go out and buy the "Rich and Thin" book; it sounds so good. Is this an addiction?

Sally Squires: I don't think so!


Arlington: Writing early -- can you help with quinoa? I love it, but it never turns out like I see in salad bars, i.e., grains. Mine is always glop; I've experimented with toasting it, less water, more water... Help?

Sally Squires: I have also tried cooking quinoa without success (and I love eating it when someone else makes it.) But now that my newly renovated kitchen is completed, maybe you will inspire me to try again. In the meantime, anyone out there have some advice on quinoa? My problem wasn't glop, it was smell. It was horrible. A bit like making beer. And I do know that rinsing this ancient grain before cooking is key. But I did that, and it didn't turn out well. I'll check after the chat with our Food section and also with the Quinoa association or the Whole Grains Council for assistance.


Indianapolis - Food cravings: Is there any research that indicates whether artificially sweetened drinks cause sugar cravings?

Sally Squires: I just did a quick search at PUBMED -- your tax dollars at work at the National Library of Medicine -- and found this abstract from the Netherlands, but not much else.

Conditioned insulin and blood sugar responses in humans in relation to binge eating.Overduin J, Jansen A.

Department of Experimental Abnormal Psychology, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.

This study proposed to demonstrate a classically conditioned blood sugar decrease in humans and to clarify its relevance for binge eating. Six conditioning trials were run in healthy females. The conditioned stimulus (CS) was a compound peppermint flavor/fragrance, whereas the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) consisted of 50 g of oral glucose. Control subjects received an aspartame drink as the UCS. Ad lib glucose intake, blood parameters, and subjective craving were monitored before and after conditioning. Results showed that the experimental group failed to show conditioned blood sugar and glucagon decreases or C-Peptide increases. Although an increased insulin response was found in the experimental group, the effect size did not exceed that of spontaneous fluctuations. No increases in craving for sweet substances were found. An impressive increase (mean: 78%) in glucose intake after conditioning was found in both conditions, as well as in a subsequently run third condition with plain water as the UCS. The increased glucose intake probably resulted from an initial neophobia to the laboratory setting that subsided as subjects had experienced more lab sessions. Importantly, because no conditioned hypoglycemia occurred in the present study, its relationship with subjectively experienced craving for sweet substance could not be determined.

PMID: 9108577 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


my pet peeve : people who act as if all "carbs" are bad. Vegetables are "carbs" and are very good for us. Sugar is generally bad. Huge difference.

Sally Squires: Huge difference is correct, although sugar by itself isn't necessarily bad. It's the huge amounts eaten that may not be so great, particularly for some people. But I'm with you: get those healthful carbs from fruit, veggies, nonfat dairy and whole grains. I actually wrote a lot about this in Secrets of the Lean Plate Club.


Ready for the backlash: Since I've started eating twice a day, I have lost 8 pounds. I eat a slightly larger than normal breakfast, an apple at work, then I don't eat again until 7 p.m. or thereabouts. This has worked consistently. Admittedly, it's much easier on the weekends than it is during the week.

Sally Squires: You have discovered what Jack LaLanne swears by: two meals a day. And he also says "If man made it, don't eat it!" And he's about to celebrate his 93rd birthday. See his video at our homepage at www.leanplateclub.com.


Goshen, Md.: For the poster last week who didn't want to cook eggs in the morning - I cook mine ahead of time. Obviously this only works if you're ok with well-done eggs, but I mix up a couple eggs and cook in my "omelet" skillet, just letting it cook on one side and then flipping and cooking the other, then folding over with cheese in the middle. After it cools a bit, cut into 2-3 pieces and store in fridge. The eggs warm up in the microwave in less time than it takes to toast my bagel/english muffin/bread.

My new "food find" is light green tea yogurt from Safeway. It has a lovely green tea flavor and isn't quite as awfully sweet as some (still too sweet, but not as bad!).

Sally Squires: You remind me that I have been using the Greek style yogurt at Trader Joe's. It's still not quite as rich as Total, but it's perfect for smoothies, dressing, etc. And it's nearly half the price. Thanks.


Monroe, Wash.: I would love an exercise DVD pick of the week or month or whatever. I'm always looking for something new and interesting. My favorites currently are the Leslie Sansone "Walk Away the Pounds" DVDs. Okay, they aren't the most exciting, but they are easy to keep up with, you don't have to be terribly coordinated and I don't feel silly doing them in front of my children (always a consideration in my house...it's tough to exercise with the peanut gallery "encouraging" me).

Sally Squires: Leslie does some great tapes -- although sometimes, I have to mute her talking. But that's me and it just depends on the day. She has a new tape out that has been highly rated at Collage Video. Sounds worth a try. Thanks for chiming in.


Florida: As someone who has lost 40 pounds and kept it off for a year and a half and who is in the 2nd week of quitting cigarettes for the 4th time this decade I do not believe addition to cigarettes and other chemicals can be compared to food. I have spent the last week with headaches, sobbing and snapping at people and literally wanting to pull my skin off. Some days/moments I can barely function and I cannot have even one cigarette.

With food I had to completely adjust my eating habits but with few exceptions can now eat what I want in moderation and I can plan for days that I know will be more gluttonous by exercising more or being especially good in the days leading up to it. And a slip does not equal back the starting point.

I don't mean to diminish the struggles people go through with food. It took months for me to change how I eat but in my case the two just can't be compared.

Sally Squires: Thanks for chiming in. I know that nicotine can be very, very hard to kick. So continued success with your efforts. As you know, it's not easy, but is very worthwhile. Our fingers are crossed for you. Hope you'll let us know how it goes. Hang in there.


McLean, Va. : In today's column entitled "Addicted to Food," Lisa says she eliminated (among other things) artificial sweeteners from her diet and has lost 30 pounds. Why would eliminating artificial sweeteners be a factor? I love Splenda in iced tea and mixed in plain yogurt. Thanks!

Sally Squires: Some people find that it triggers their yearning for sweet food. But everybody is different. It may be just the thing that keeps you on track. That's the beauty of finding what works best for each of us. Thanks!


Sally Squires: Thanks for a great Web chat. Winners today are: Florida, Overeaters Anonymous, Monroe, Wash.; and Fairfax, Va. (for the egg idea.) Please send your names and addresses to leanplateclub@washpost.com. And please include winner in the subject line for faster handling.

Until next week: Eat Smart and Move More with the Lean Plate Club. Thanks to all!


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