Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tips and a recipe

An article on WebMD.com lists four ways to get a diet started: Know your weight loss goal, make a firm weight loss commitment, and combine exercise with diet. No revelations here.

It was the list's No. 2 that got me thinking: Know your weight loss personality. Is this the key to why I can be so good one week, eating only nutritious foods, and horrid the next? WebMD.com says personality plays a role in our attitude toward food, and to succeed, we need to know how we react to food and tailor our plan to conquer our "unproductive inclinations." Love that: Unproductive inclinations!

Thomas R. Przybeck, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, has published on the topic of diet and personality. Here's what he said to WebMD:

Impulsive. "If you have a tendency to be impulsive, you might see a pint of Ben & Jerry's in the freezer and go for it," Przybeck says. Clearly you are a dieter who needs to remove those temptations.

Oblivious. If you tend to not pay attention when you eat — maybe you're a TV snacker? — you need to avoid such situations if you want to control portions.

Uptight. "If you are highly anxious, you will probably have more difficulty," Przybeck says. "Those who are anxious, nervous, and depressed might eat to feel better."

Tenacious. Certain personalities don't find it that difficult losing weight. "If you are highly self-directed, cooperative, and have a lot of stick-to-it-ive-ness, you are going to have an easier time," Przybeck says.

Sociable. You tend to monitor your food intake better than others, Przybeck found.

Val's take:

My problem is that at any given time, I can be any of these five personalities. But, I did find it helpful, because now I know I am like everyone else — I just spread my personalities out. Keeps life interesting.

Impulsive: To be successful, I've removed everything in my house that will trigger a bout of eating. Ben & Jerry's cannot be in my freezer. Even the one in our garage. If I'm hungry, that's all I will see.

Oblivious: Snack in front of the TV? Give me a bag of chips, plop me on a couch, and in less time it takes to say, "Bet you can't eat just one," the whole bag will be gone. Snacks get portioned in the kitchen. Only then can I become a happy couch potato.

Uptight: You bet I eat when I'm feeling blue. So I visited teavana.com, bought all kinds of yummy rooibos, green and herb teas, and have programmed myself to put the pot on to boil and make myself a cup of tea when I'm feeling down. The Haute Chocolate rooibos soothes anything.

Tenacious: That's me, the first five days of any diet. Come Saturday, my willpower disappears. Why do you think I started this blog? It's keeping me honest.

Sociable: See tenacious.

Today's recipe is terrific anytime, but especially after a busy day when the last thing you want to do is cook. It's one of the easiest meals to throw together. Add a loaf of bread — cornbread is even better — and call it dinner. I've made this soup with pork, chicken, shrimp, or even extra beans, and it's always terrific

Southwestern Soup
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup onion (if you are very busy, buy frozen chopped onion)
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 garlic clove minced (or buy the already chopped cloves)
  • 1 lb. chicken breast or pork tenderloin, cut in bite-sized pieces, or shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 15-oz. can large red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or add two cans and leave out the meat or shrimp)
  • 1 14-oz. can diced fire tomatoes, undrained
  • Zest or 1 lime
  • 2 Tblsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of half a lime
  1. Coat a small stock pot with cooking spray.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper and jalapeno and saute until soft.
  3. Add garlic; saute 2 minutes.
  4. Add chicken or pork (not shrimp); saute 3 minutes.
  5. Add broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, beans, tomatoes and lime zest; bring to a boil.
  6. Add shrimp, if using.
  7. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Remove from heat, and stir in cilantro and lime juice.


  1. This sounds delicious - and looks to be very low fat. Any way to make this in a slow cooker, or would it just cook too long even on low?

  2. I think it wold be perfect in a slow-cooker, and plan on giving it a try this weekend. I would do a long, slow cook of about 8 hours. Today's recipe is for turkey chili -- and it was perfect. Even my husband, who is not a fan of turkey chili, loved this one.

  3. This sounds good! I like the idea of using coriander leaves, lime juice and jalapeño ... they probably beautifully enhance the flavors.