How I Lost 8 Pounds this Month–Without Feeling Hungry

How I Lost 8 Pounds this Month–Without Feeling Hungry

One of my 2 main goals for this year is to lose weight– to have more energy, to be healthier, to be able to buy a pretty tailored dresses for the holidays, instead of an XL top and a skirt with an elasticized waist:)

So a month ago yesterday, I joined a 10-week weight-loss group at my health fund, taught by Hadassah Hospital nutritionist Adi Betsalel. 4 weeks into the course, I have lost over 8 pounds. And it wasn’t because I starved myself, I actually haven’t been feeling hungry. I lost weight by following a few simple guidelines I learned from Adi…

Before I started this group, I would often go without eating meat/fish/soy or eggs during the day. Now I make sure that everyday I eat at least one portion of every food group.
A. Bread (includes rice, crackers, pasta, bulghur) (1 portion=70 calories)
B. Fruit (1 portion=60 calories)
C. Milk (1 portion=1 cup=calories vary)
D. Meat/Soy (1 portion=200-250)
E. Egg (1 portion=80 calories)
F. Healthy Fats (i.e.,healthy oils such as olive and canola, tahini, nuts, avocado) (1 portion=45 calories)
G. Vegetables (average 25 calories per 100 grams)
H. Treats and sweets (calories vary, more about this later:)

2. LIMIT FRUITS AND CARBS: Before I started this group, if I was hungry I would grab a piece of fruit or a rice cake. And most of my calories were coming from fruits and carbs (crackers, grains, legumes). But to lose weight, I learned, the #1 thing I should be consuming is water and the majority of my calories should be coming from:
A. Dairy
B. Protein
C. Vegetables
D. Healthy fats
This means that the banana and package of rice cakes I used to keep in my purse have been replaced by 35 soynuts or 7 almonds (both around 50 calories) for a quick snack. As a general rule, 25-30% of your calories should be coming from protein (meat, eggs, dairy), 35-40% from healthy oils (nuts, tahini, olive/canola oil etc.), and 40% from carbohydrates (bread, crackers, fruit etc.)

3. STAY AWARE OF PORTION SIZE: Before I started this group, I would eat without paying attention to portion size. If I wanted to have a bowl of cereal, for example, I would pour myself 2 cups of cereal. Now I know that 2 cups of cereal equals 4 bread portions (280 calories!). Now, if I want some cereal, I measure out half a cup (one portion) or a cup (2 portions). This is also important with fruit– if you want to grab a piece of fruit for a burst of energy keep in mind that calorie amounts vary widely. To eat one portion of fruit ( 60 calories) you can eat 1 medium apple or half a persimmon or 3 plums or a thin slice of melon. If you are eating a lot of fruit to fill you up between meals, if you don’t keep track of portion size, this can add up very quickly (I speak from personal experience).

4. HOT DRINKS: Adi told us that hot drinks are a necessary weapon in the arsenal of any dieter. Add up to 1 cup of milk over the course of the day and watch your sugar consumption. I find that if I’m starting to feel hungry, a big hot drink with half a cup of milk can fill me up until my next meal.

5. BEWARE STARCHY VEGETABLES: We tend to think of vegetables as universally healthy, and usually it’s good to eat them in abundance. But certain root vegetables are high in carbs– for example, 2 medium carrots and a small sweet potato (vegetables I used to eat a lot of) have as many calories as a piece of bread. In this diet, you can eat anything, as long as you keep your eyes open to the amount of calories you consume.

6. EAT A TREAT EVERYDAY: Before I started this diet, I did not allow myself any treats during the week; I would save them for Shabbat. This is a problem, since then I would feel that I had deprived myself all week, so I deserved lots of treats on Shabbat. Adi said this is a common phenomenon– she has seen many religious people who, week after week, lose 2 pounds over the course of the week, and then gain it all back on Shabbat! A better approach is to eat a small treat every day (I eat an 80-calorie treat bar) and then it’s easier not to binge on Shabbat.

7. MORE SHABBAT PITFALLS: I still eat a lot more on Shabbat than I do during the week, but, in addition to limiting treats, I also limit eating bread. I don’t eat bread during the week, so on Shabbat I used to eat 2-3 slices at every meal. Now I limit myself to three-quarters of a piece of bread at each meal (this is the amount halachically required). I said that this diet has been easy for me to keep– except for this part! This actually is a challenge…It’s easier if right after we pass out the challah, I bring myself a bowl of chicken soup.

8. NOT TOO MANY CALORIES, AND NOT TOO FEW: For the first time in several decades, I have been keeping track of how many calories I eat. And the bizarre thing is that I often find I am not eating enough calories. Healthy women (who are not pregnant or nursing) should be eating at least 1200 calories a day, and up to around 1400 (add 200 calories if you are nursing, check with your doctor is you are pregnant). Eating too many calories, or course, will keep you from losing weight. But eating too few calories can be just as much of a problem. If you are only eating 1000 calories a day, for example, your body will go into starvation mode, and any time you eat more than 1000 calories a day (for example, on Pesach, Shabbat, or CHANUKAH!) your starving body will cling to those extra calories as fat.

Anyway, that, in a nutshell, is how I lost 8 pounds this month. Much success to any aspiring dieters reading this! Hope it helps you as much as it has helped me!


  1. It’s an incredible feeling when we take control of ourselves and get on the path of healthy living. Baruch Hashem I’ve lost 44 pounds to date since July. I am feeling soooooo awesome!! Still more to go, but I’m celebrating this success with all of you :). I am sure people who know I’ve been losing and are fans, can guess who I am 😉

  2. What kind of hot drinks do you use? I like coffee but the acidity and caffeine have been a problem for me lately. If I remember right you also limit caffeine… do you have any specific suggestions?

    • i drink chico (a coffee substitute) or other similar barley/hickory-based coffee substitutes–you can find different kinds at a health food store.

  3. In this diet, you can eat anything, as long as you keep your eyes open to the amount of calories you consume.

    So basically according to Adi, “a calorie is a calorie,” regardless of where it’s from?

    • right. but the vast majority of your calories should be coming from healthy foods with nutritional value. Let’s say up to 250 calories a day on a treat of any sort.

      In last night’s class, adi gave us this estimated breakdown: As a general rule, 25-30% of your calories should be coming from protein (meat, eggs, dairy), 35-40% from healthy oils (nuts, tahini, olive/canola oil etc.), and 40% from carbohydrates (bread, crackers, fruit etc.)

  4. Mazal tov on your achievement!

  5. bs”d
    I wish everyone continued success in improving our health and not letting gashmiut overtake our spiritual being, that is really what a “diet” is…
    I would also recommend reading (or rereading) Rav Arush’s chapter on “dieting” and the spiritual link between what goes in and comes out of our mouths. In the Hebrew version of Chomat Nashim it is an entire chapter but I don’t know if that is the case in the English translation Women’s Wisdom, since the translation was abridged.

    • thanks for telling me, I didn’t remember that chapter (and nice to hear from you!!)

    • Thanks for mentioning that! I need to reread it.
      Very interesting that weight issues are such a big nisayon today.

  6. These guidelines are very helpful and inspiring: i would add that no diet works without exercise in the long term…. very important to incorporate it in any way possible….not.only for weight control but for.overall physical and mental health, especially in the forties and beyond.

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