The Bellydancer's Diet Guidelines

I've designed this diet specifically to meet my needs as a perimenopausal woman with a slowing metabolism, increased need for protein, and newfound intolerance for simple carbs.

Here is an overview of the diet:
  • Journal & track total calories. Overall calories is the single biggest contributor to weight loss. Did you know there are 3500 calories stored in one pound of fat? See my page on journalling & tracking to learn  about online tools that make it easy to determine how many calories to eat and keep track of how you're doing.
  • Keep protein above 25% of total calories consumed all day, with an overall goal of 25-35% of calories from protein. Your online tracker will monitor this for you. It means eating lean meat, egg white, or other lean protein sources at every meal and most snacks. 
  • Avoid simple carbs. That means the 'white things' — sugar, potatos, bread, rice & pasta. But even brown rice and whole wheat breads and pastas are minimized in this diet, along with dairy. Keep overall carbs at about 35-45% of calories consumed.
  • Don't fear healthy fats. If you follow the guidelines above,  about a third of your overall calories consumed will be from fats. (did you know that ALL calories come from either protein, carbs or fats? So if you cut one, another must rise.) This should be mostly from healthy, unsaturated fats, like olive oil, avocados, and almonds. NOT butter, margarine, fatty meats, etc.
  • Treat high-calorie foods as an addiction. Take the first  two to four weeks on the program as a sort of 'cold turkey' withdrawal. After that small planned indulgences, like a rich restaurant meal, a dessert, a candy bar, can be planned once or twice a month. But practice NEVER giving in to cravings, it only makes them stronger! More thoughts on handling cravings and thinking of food as an addiction here.
  • Eat a wide variety of plant foods daily. Preparing mixtures of fresh vegetables (especially raw ones, in salads and slaws) is the easiest way to get a wide variety. Lots of dark green leaves will help you keep your protein levels up and help you get enough calcium without eating as much dairy.
  • Eat 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed daily. Flaxseed offers lots of fiber, protein, and healthy fat to keep you full, and has been shown to help balance hormone levels (which may aid in reducing belly fat)
  • Be active. Never sit still for more than 2 hours at a stretch, and get at least thirty minutes of physical activity at least 5 times a week (an hour a day would be better!) Add strength training three times a week. Remember, it is possible to find activities you'll actually enjoy, especially as you become more fit. Children love to skip rope, run and play outdoors, you can find that joy, too!
  • Recognize what food means to you in your life, and actively work to find new, healthy ways to indulge and entertain yourself. Never use food as a reward for weight loss, that's the worst kind of self-sabatoge. Would you reward a heroin addict for a week off the drug with a hit of heroin?
I'll follow up in this blog with specifics on each of these guidelines, recipes, meal plans,  shopping lists, anecdotes, and philosophies as we go along.