Let me just say that I never tried the "Cabbage Soup Diet" and from what I've read it's not a balanced diet, it's a fad.There are a zillion versions of it on the internet!

I started making my big pots of cabbage soup to eat for lunch every day for two reasons. I was cutting food costs, so I'd stopped eating in restaurants while in the office. (Couldn't help it on the road.) And I wanted to be sure I got a big serving of vegetables at least once a day. I was surprised how well it satisfied my hunger and I was able to resist the 3:00 pm chocolate bar. $20 a month right there!

It's not so much that eating oatmeal for breakfast, cabbage soup and a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and vegetarian suppers causes weight loss. It's all the things I don't keep in the house, like a tub of ice cream (I used to have a spoonful at a time – time after time), chips (there was a time when my kids were small that I was having a whole 200 gram bag of chips most evenings along with an alcoholic drink.)

I bake my quick banana bread and pumpkin/zucchini bread regularly. There are no cookies or candy in the house at all. If I have popcorn at night, it's popped in a tablespoon or two of oil and I eat it plain. I eat yogurt unsweetened and use only a bit of sugar when canning stewed peaches and pears, just to get the juice flowing.

And that's it. The fewer options in the house, the easier it has been for me to stay two sizes smaller than I was for many years after I had my kids. And I gave up drinking ten years ago. Big calorie and dollar savings there.

I broke both my wrists last winter and had to find ways to keep exercising, since that's obviously important. I would lie on my back and do leg lifts and bicycle pedaling, then dance to a few songs. Total 40 minutes. I was in great shape by the time the casts were off! Now I'm back to at least a half hour walk three or four times a week and sometimes the floor routine, about twenty minutes.

So, that all sounds good on paper. But then, as with food sensitivities, there's the stress factor. When I see all these morbidly obese people walking around I don't blame McDonald's or Kraft or the people. I see an epidemic of chronic anxiety, caused by an incredibly uncertain and fast-changing world. The smallest bout of angst puts us in a vulnerable state where the line of least resistance is the couch, the 'hopeless little screen' (as my hero, Leonard Cohen called it), and snax.

I believe (and have the experience to back it up) that the key is in seeing not stress-out-there ('my job, my kids, my spouse, my debts, my parents...") but practicing keeping a steady eye inward on the mental and physical manifestations of anxiety as they arise, before they wind you up to the point where you indulge your compulsions. You can sit on a cushion and practice it while nothing 'bad' is happening and pretty soon you'll get frustrated because you don't think you're doing it right. And there's your big chance to practice turning your attention inward,  seeing that an experience is 'unpleasant' exactly to the extent that you label it unpleasant. You don't have to call this meditation.

How's that for a miracle slimming plan? It's in our hands. If we can simplify our lives we can find the moments of happiness that come with peace – mental spaciousness, instead of in peaks of pleasure. Then we don't feel compelled to eat to assuage the pain of our anxiety.  

Paul Kemp over at Healthy Planet Diet has more to say about weight loss than I do, so you might like to check him out.

Cheap Suppers  Recipes to Print  Eating Beans  My Road to 10in10

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