Tools for diet control

August 23, 2011 

Carole Tanzer Miller, features editor, writes: Y'all know by now that I prefer mental gymnastics to physical exercise - like Words with Friends, the iPhone/iPad version of Scrabble. I'm not especially good at it, but at the start of a recent game with a "random" opponent who has become a frequent foe, I hit the jackpot. On the first play, I used all seven letters - and the word I spelled made me smile. Check it out:

OK, seriously, A recent post about portion distortion brought a slew of links from a colleague to products and ideas designed to help people not overeat. Have a look:

Low-tech: Laptop Lunches makes a lunch carrier reminiscent of Japanese-style bento boxes. The insulated containers have reusable boxes inside for sensible portions of veggies, salad, casserole, meat, or what-have-you.

High-tech: Bite Counter, described as a "pedometer for eating," was developed by two Clemson University researchers, who sell it online for $799. Strap it to your wrist, and it counts the number of bites you take in each meal, by tracking wrist motion. It is one way to track your intake (and lighten your wallet. I recommend weighing before and after buying).

Stop muffin top: CalorieCount, a website whose tagline is "There's strength in numbers," recommends preparing food in your muffin tin - be it mini-meatloaf, mac and cheese or dessert. Automatic portion control!

Women's Health magazine offers a bunch of strategies for portion control at Among them:

Keep plates saucer-size (about six inches in diameter).

Small bowls or teacups are good for food you tend to gulp down, like ice cream or cereal. Save large bowls for soups and salads.

Use teaspoons, not serving spoons, for dishing up food.

Thank you to Design Editor Teresa Kriegsman for sharing these great links.

Former staff blogger Teri Boggess, who recently left The N&O, will be joining our community bloggers. She has great news to share. I won't spoil her punch line, but watch Diet Dispatches for her continuing story.

Watch this fall for a soon-to-be mom on the Features staff to join Turning the Scales as she works to return to her pre-pregnancy weight.

Motivation is healthy

Community blogger Alan Foster writes: Beginning weight: 225

Current weight: 210

To keep up this weight loss effort, I discovered a really nice source of motivation. It actually came during a brief conversation with a co-worker who mentioned seeing this blog. I was trying to rationalize my current lack of desire to "diet" on my quickly approaching 50th birthday and my thoughts of getting past the "age of vanity." The co-worker reminded me that one should never get past the age of staying healthy.

That comment has stuck with me like a hair in a biscuit this week and provided some much-needed motivation. Enough so that I've managed to get in some swimming, some golf (without the cart), some yard work and a short walk with a lazy dog.

Motivation is a valuable thing. Sometimes you have to look for it, sometimes it just appears, but for me, it's always a welcome sight. Please keep the encouragement and motivation coming. Zig Ziglar once said, "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily."

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Weight-conscious staffers share stories and tips at

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