National food columnist vows never to diet again
Pam Anderson loves food.
While a test cook for Cooks Illustrated magazine, she would test up to a hundred recipes for each dish, including cheesecake, chili, ribs and chicken pot pie. She would analyze the recipes and come up with what she thought was the best way to make the dish.
“Then I found myself over the course of all these years pushing 200 pounds,” said Anderson, who is now a New York Times bestselling author of her newest book, “The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great.” She is also a USA Weekend and Better Homes and Gardens food columnist.
She had tried every diet out there: the rotation diet, liquid diet, cabbage soup diet and Atkins.
“I knew they didn’t work, so I threw away my scales and vowed never to diet again,” she said, adding that she knew she needed to exercise more and eat less, “but most of us don’t know how to do that.”
Her book, a personal account of how she lost 50 pounds and has kept it off for several years, includes healthy recipes for every meal that can be remade using several different variations. She chooses from the healthy – and delicious – recipes for her own eating regime and has never grown tired of them, she said.
Anderson recently came to Bellevue to do a cooking class at Sizzleworks Cooking School. The Reporter chatted with her about her journey to good health.
Reporter: How did you lose the weight?
Anderson: You really have to go inward and make some changes at the core in order to permanently change your lifestyle. For me, it was healing physically and emotionally. So I went to the doctor and started healing my ailments. I had tendinitis in my shoulder and then I went to see a therapist and got at the heart of why I was eating more than I should.
It didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I love food so much. I was carrying too much weight in my relationships and it was manifesting itself in eating more than I should. I found a way to start putting myself first. When I started caring for myself, I started to take pride in myself and wanted to figure out a way that I could eat healthy and deliciously for the rest of my life.
This wasn’t about dieting; it was about figuring a new way to eat. I knew it had to be pleasurable and something I could live with. There were no “no nos.” You need to make friends will all the things that you love and put yourself in charge of them.
Reporter: Describe your new way of eating.
Anderson: My plan involves eating six times a day. I start off my morning with a cup of hot milky tea and a banana, which energizes me for my workout. I exercise about 45 minutes a day, six days a week. That snack allows me to postpone breakfast until 9 o’clock, so that I don’t get the mid-morning munchies.
Breakfast for me is varied and fun. I’ve got recipes for overnight oatmeal so you can make it the night before and pop it in the lowest setting in your oven so it’s ready when you get up in the morning. There’s the open-faced omelet. There’s a formula to make this omelet, but it has 10 variations so you can top it with whatever you want, such as feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and spinach. There’s crustless quiche and breakfast pizza, granola, and smoothies. To me, diets are all about eating the same thing over and over again and this needs to be varied and fun.
Lunch is a hearty big bowl of soup and salad. I set up the salad chapter like a salad bar, so you have your green choices, protein, vegetable, nuts, cheese and other choices. You could make salad for the rest of your life and never make the same one again.
There’s a formula for the soup so you’re just sliding in different proteins, vegetables and starches and you only need one recipe to make different soups.
In three hours I give myself a nice hot cup of tea. It’s not anything decadent, but I give myself a few wafers to enjoy with my tea. It’s soothes me so I can finish my day. Then I don’t need to eat half a bag of cookies because in just half an hour it’s time for my pre-dinner nibble.
Before I start cooking dinner I have a glass of wine, maybe a handful of nuts or a smoked salmon tartar on a cracker. This keeps me from picking during dinner preparation. You come home hungry and start preparing dinner and you can consume the calories of an entire meal sometimes before you ever sit down to eat.
Dinner is varied. There are six chapters on dinner alone: two on pastas, flat bread pizzas. Most people don’t think they’re allowed pasta on a diet. It’s all about calories: calories consumed, calories burned. Enjoy your pasta. After my pre-dinner nibble I’m feeling satisfied so I don’t need a massive portion.
Reporter: What differentiates your plan from a diet?
Anderson: When you go deep inside and make the changes at the core, it’s lasting, whereas with diets, you’re just incorporating somebody else’s plan into your life and when it’s over, you haven’t figured out how to eat. Usually diets have told you to stop eating carbohydrates or sweets and you do that and lose weight, but then you haven’t figured out how to eat for life. This is a way to eat for life.
Reporter: How can people use this plan as their own?
Anderson: This is not Pam Anderson’s plan. What I encourage people to do is figure out what’s going to work for them. Go on your own journey. Our bodies and needs are all different. Some of us have allergies or are vegetarian. So it’s not like any one plan is going to work for one person, but I think there’s enough variety and with the formulas enough flexibility so people can take their likes and incorporate this plan into their lives.
Carrie Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4290.