Dinner, Diet, and Getting Out of the Kitchen

by Lian on February 9, 2010

Hello, Chaos Crew…

A few weeks ago, I posted my theory on why married women with children gain weight. Researchers have found that those of us at home with husbands and kids put on more weight over the years than our partner-less or child-less sisters. But researchers were stumped as to why. My theory? Dinner. And many of you agreed, adding your own salient comments and anecdotal evidence to my theory. Here’s my original post.

And, since I announced that 2010 was a year of Health and Fitness for me, several Chaos Crew members have asked for an update . Several  are waiting to start their own programs… and they wanted to know how mine was going. Love that. Been there,  done that in terms of waiting to start a diet! So I am here to oblige…

My TV Boyfriend: Dr. Oz

My TV Boyfriend: Dr. Oz

I am following the plan of Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Micheal Roizin called You: On a Diet, except it’s Me: On a Diet. I have always admired Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizin for their sound, fact-based medical advice. ( As opposed to wacky theories on food combining based on unsubstantiated health claims by actresses.  But that’s just me. To read more about my “relationship” with Dr. Oz on Oprah.com, click here. )  I like to know what to do and why I am doing it.  Also, the program emphasizes “waist size” and not “weight,” so there’s no torturing yourself over the numbers on a scale.  And I find their focus on “vitality” particularly appealing, especially when vitality seems so fleeting. Or, in my case, fleeted.

So, I am on board with the whole grains, the flaxseeds, the salmon, the walnuts, and the Greek yogurt. I’m saying “no” to white flour, added sugars, and foods high in saturated fat.  Lots of water, green tea, and a little wine occasionally after the meal– all good. The food aspect of the diet has been surprisingly easy. I think was ready to make changes– so foregoing the ice cream, mac and cheese and grilled steaks has been not too much of a struggle. And, the plan does a great job of giving you tools to get back on track ( called a You -Turn) after that slice of birthday cake.

Yup, the hamburger cake got me. But I didn’t let it take me down as I might have in the past.

I'm not thinking about dinner. I'm not thinking about dinner.

I'm not thinking about dinner. I'm not thinking about dinner.

But the biggest change for me has been habitual: Getting of the Kitchen Between the Hours of 3 and 7. Like I said in the original post, just the act of making and serving dinner added 500 calories to my day, and that wasn’t even from eating the actual dinner!  That was from the four-hour buffet of snacking while making my growing boys one meal after another.  Even if the quality of food in my immediate area was “healthy”– hummus, peanut butter, whole grain tortillas– I just didn’t need the quantity.  So, a month ago, I announced to my family that I would no longer be standing at the ready in the kitchen all afternoon as had been my habit. I stocked the fridge with healthy foods, reviewed the stove, microwave and oven policies with my boys, and announced that I would make one meal served at 6:45 for anybody who happened to be home to enjoy. For any other meals, they were on their own. Oh– and please put your dishes in the sink and rinse out the yogurt cups.

Then, I walked away from the kitchen.

And walked is the operative word. I walked the dog. I walked  around the track at lacrosse practice. I walked  around the yard weeding and raking. I got out of Dodge– and very often that meant inventing excuses to leave the house. Let’s go to the library! Medicine Ball Madness!  I was grateful for the excuse of the high school soccer season with games from 3 to 5; looking forward to volleyball starting in March! I have freed myself from the constant food prep that growing tween and teen boys mandate. The boys are taking responsibilty for more of their nutrition and I am seeing the benefits of my new regimen.

It’s hard. They still ask for the bowl of ice cream after dinner. But, I remind them that they can get off the couch and get it themselves. Which then, they don’t! So I guess they really didn’t need/want that ice cream in the first place. But, I think that’s a whole other study!

So, how’s it going? Slipped into a pair of blue jeans over the weekend that I hadn’t worn in, um, quite while. My hairdresser commented on the vibrancy of my skin.  And, last week when I had that TV audition, I went Spanx-free!

It’s hard to go public with a diet because then you are on the hook for losing more weight and then keeping it off.  And people want pictures and numbers– and that’s not my thing. But, because my column on dinner touched such a nerve, I thought I would share what I’ve discovered: Dinner is a meal, not a lifestyle.

Your thoughts?

Embracing my Chaos, Lian



Lian February 16, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Paula– Sounds like you are doing an amazing job with your family and your diet after such a tragic situation with your husband.

Thanks for your post. Lian

Paula February 15, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Over the past year, I have been gradually working on overhauling our eating. Partly because I need to lose some weight, but also because I am concerned about the overly-processed foods that have become so common in our country. I started about two years ago by eating more whole grain foods and trying to avoid white flour and also trying to eat less processed foods. I became even more vigilant after my husband passed away from stomach cancer at only 43 years old. The kids have a couple of holdover foods that we are gradually phasing out and I haven’t entirely given up my diet soda. But we are working towards our goals and I can see a difference in how I feel. I also notice that I do feel kind of icky on the rare occasion where I eat processed foods after avoiding them for so long.

Good luck with your goals and keep us posted.

Joan February 11, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Thank you for the post. I’m now having a cup of tea (it is black, not green) instead of the Reese’s Valentine’s hearts.

You’ve inspired me to get rid of the five pounds that DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE!

Mainer February 10, 2010 at 5:50 PM

I started reading this article while eating ice cream :-)
The book is available at my local library, so I’ll go check it out tomorrow.

So far in 2010, I’ve been good about exercising, added in some weight training too which is going well. I intended to start eating kid size dessert portions, but decided they need larger servings!
I’ve had the whole grain thing happening for a while. I imagine getting control of the sugars would make a big difference. I just don’t want to give up or need to measure how much maple syrup I use with my breakfasts.

Not to long ago I listened to an old Satellite Sister’s where you combined the ideas of two diet books and came up w/ your own hunger scale, too funny!

Keep up the good work!

Diane Gray February 10, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Good post, Lian! And I would be very interested to see the conclusions of the study on children who pass on getting the snack themselves. That made me laugh.

Carla in WA February 10, 2010 at 11:02 AM

“Resting the appliance” is also a favorite strategy of mine! I never realized how silly it was until I heard you talking about it. This strategy spans generations: Yesterday my 16-year-old daughter “rested” her math calculator after it acted up. We will see if that helps before doing anything else.

Lian February 10, 2010 at 9:02 AM

Thanks for the comments and great support! I will think of all of you at 5:30 when I am dying to tear into a box of Triscuits. Oh, wit– I don’t buy crackers anymore. They are my Waterloo!

And, yes, KBR, I have been thinking about all of you in SnowDrift Central. So much harder to get up and out. As opposed to 70 and sunny– which is our weather today!

Check out the new column on Oprah.com. It’s a companion piece to this one.


kbradcliffe February 10, 2010 at 4:10 AM


Bravo for putting it out there that you are on this journey. I have continued mine, as best I can, avoiding the processed stuff as much as possible, cutting out carbs whenever I can, and working hard to stay fit, even when I don’t want to be exercising. Snow day yesterday, but I still got up at 4:30 to get a work out in before the kids woke up. And after we cut out and frosted the Heart cookies, I didn’t eat them!

Now, though, as I listen to the wind howl, bringing the temp near zero, I am wishing I was in CA or somewhere warmer where I could get a good run in outside, without a hat or gloves!

Off to embrace my coffee, with milk and a squirt of Hershey’s syrup. Kind of like a mocha!


Cloud Mom February 9, 2010 at 7:10 PM

What exciting changes for you and your family! I remember when my children were little and I went from working full time to part time. We would have snack twice a day consisting of crackers, cheese, crackers, pudding, yogurt, crackers, etc. After gaining weight from snack time I learned to switch and have tea or lemonade.
Now, I also find myself in the kitchen for hours on end grazing as I prepare meals. I love your great suggestion of leaving the kitchen and walking. This winter I’ve started Friday stir fry night w/o meat. Much to my family’s amazement they survived a meatless meal. I’ve also tried the short workouts with the Wii fit during meal prep.

Cyndi February 9, 2010 at 6:08 PM

Haha – I may never do a downward dog again without thinking of the picture with the “I’m not thinking about dinner” caption … jk

You are off to a GREAT start and good for you for seeing/feeling results! Keeps the momentum going for sure. Glad you are eating healthy because fad diets don’t really give us the long term benefits we all REALLY want and need.

This past year, I made major changes in food choices for me and my family. The changes came in gradual shifts, not overnight overhauls so no one complained. The food that used to go into my grocery cart a year ago … UGH! No more processed food for me, no fat free/sugar free stuff …. I make a lot more homemade versions of things … we eat a lot of vegetables, fruit, nuts … I have a “green monster” every morning – fresh spinach, a banana, kefir and ice in the VitaMix – that’s the one thing I can’t get anyone else to try!

Good luck Lian!

Greg Andrade February 9, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Processed foods are the killer – anything with hydrolized anything is bad.
Choices for freshness in our country is tough – most of our foods are simply over processed or “Under-cared for” from farm to table – how they’re grown – tended – handled – preserved for shipping and convenienced for corporate markets – that’s why when you to travel to places that don’t do aggressive growing techniques and ship locally the food actually has flavor even a simple carrot in France or Costa Rica will taste like – well – a carrot – not cardboard – farmer’s market is key.
Good luck with the regiment – cheers – Greg Andrade

Christine February 9, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Thanks for sharing this Lian. I need to adopt the “get out of the kitchen” plan as well!

Susan February 9, 2010 at 4:22 PM


I love this, “Dinner is a meal, not a lifestyle” – thank you! I’ve been heading out to Curves once everyone is settled after school, same thing, it gets me out of the kitchen – when I return from working out, I get dinner ready – less “grazing” time!

I love it that in one month, you are already seeing and feeling the results. I have been avoiding gluten, white flour, sugar and anything processed – so true how avoiding these “foods” increases vitality! I had a handful of rice chips recently with something artificial listed in the ingredients-shortly after eating the chips, I broke out on the back of my neck – I think food sensitivities are more common than we think…I have become more “aware” of how I feel after eating certain foods – it helps me stick to the real food only philosophy!

Thank you for the motivating post – you are a true inspiration – fabulous!

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