Aug 24, 2013

The ELF diet (Eat Less Food)

Intermittent fasting is a good way to lose weight, and in my case, I think that fasting is good for about 10 or 15 pounds.  However, I've been fasting since 2004, and after a while, I gained some weight back and thought that it would be a good idea to lose some.  For the last few years, I've been watching my weight using the ELF diet, which involves Eating Less Food. The person who introduced me to this acronym did it as a joke (as in "I'm following the ELF diet, where you Eat Less Food, haha"), but I've given it some thought and see two useful aspects.

Eat less than you want. The amount of food that most people eat is dictated by appetite, and their weight, whether it is more than they would like or exactly right, is relatively stable. The body has an exquisite ability to regulate appetite, so if you want to lose weight you have to be a little bit hungry much of the time. I find that paying attention to appetite, and eating just a little less than I want, is an effective way to lose weight.

Eat less than you have been eating. I've read recently that people who record what they eat using smart phone apps are more likely to lose weight. This makes sense to me (although I myself just record what I ate, in words, at the end of each day). If you eat seven cookies, that's a lot, but it might be less than the eight cookies you ate at a similar event the week before. I find keeping track and eating less to be much easier than counting calories. There is a lot less arithmetic, and fewer opportunities for wishful thinking to play a role.

I also find that it's useful to keep track of my weight, so that I know which foods are associated with weight gain and which are not.  Keeping track of what I eat and what I weigh each day makes it possible to predict the effect of different foods, and that is very useful.