Updated on 05.23.11

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: No Perfect Diet Edition

Trent Hamm

The more you evaluate the ins and outs of particular diets, the more you discover that there is no “perfect” diet. No matter what “rules” you apply to your eating, there is always a study or two contradicting it.

The only thing I’ve seen that seems to be universally agreed upon is portion control. Don’t eat until you’re miserable.

Make a Total Financial Picture Spreadsheet I do this very thing, except that mine is in the form of a three-ring binder. I don’t have all of this information congregated in one spreadsheet. (@ bible money matters)

16 Ways to Lower Your Housing Costs Some of these are surprisingly simple. Others require a ton of effort. Some save a little, while others save a lot. In other words, there’s advice for almost everyone. (@ my dollar plan)

Full Time RVing: An Option for Many This can certainly work for a single person or a couple. I would not want to try it with children, however. (@ gen x finance)

Underextended This almost perfectly describes what I strive for in life at this point. (@ seth’s blog)

Five Career Moves with Exponential Returns My favorite one is the simple handwritten note. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it can make. (@ get rich slowly)

The Myth of Discipline I think the idea here is a good one, in that regular habits make things work. However, even the simplest habits require discipline. I think a lot of it has to do with integrity. If you have integrity and your habit has integrity, you’ll stick with it. (@ zen habits)

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  1. Cheryl says:

    Full time RVing with children is certainly possible and workable. We did it with our now 10 yo from when he was 3 to 8. Now we are more settled, but still travel and live in our RV 4-5 months of the year. There is a whole yahoo group devoted to families with children who are full-time RVers. Some have jobs requiring much travel, others (like us) are retired.

  2. Debbie M says:

    I agree with portion control, but not with “Don’t eat until you’re miserable.” If you wait until you’re starving, you’re going to want to eat like a pig.

    Better and more fun is to not eat until you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re not hungry. (Although I do know some people who like to eat very quickly so they can eat more before they get full so they can wait longer between meals. Me, I always want to eat in 4 or fewer hours no matter how much I eat.)

  3. Allie says:

    Debbie, I think he meant “don’t do the thing where you eat until you’re miserable,” not “wait until you’re miserable before you eat.” But I had the same initial misunderstanding.

  4. Gretchen says:

    More like “eat until you are 80% full.”

    Anywhere close to miserable on a regular basis is almost certainly too many calories.

  5. Debbie M says:

    Allie, thanks, that makes sense.

  6. ryan says:

    How about you eat healthy stuff and exercise. It isnt difficult, people are just lazy.

  7. KC says:

    Google “how many calories should I eat” – you’ll get numerous calculators to help you figure out how many calories you should be eating. Then start keeping track of your calories. I downloaded fitness pal to my iphone, but you can do it with a notebook. It takes a while to work down to the correct calorie amount without feeling like you are starving, but you’ll get there. Then once you are there…stay there. It’s the only thing that has ever worked for me – I’ve never been very overweight, just usually 10 lbs or so.

    I was eating about 2300 calories a day and should have been eating 1700. 3500 calories equals a pound. Eat 3500 calories less over any period of time and you’ll lose 1 pound. It’s not rocket science. People always come up with an excuse – can’t lose weight, thyroid problem, etc. Well basically my thyroid doesn’t work – I take 275 mcg of synthroid daily. As long as I don’t over eat – I lose or maintain my weight.

  8. ryan says:

    KC…when you filled out this calorie calculator, what did you put as your activity level?

    Losing weight isn’t soley based on food. Sure you can reduce your calories, but you can also increase you activity.

    Up your activity level and 2300 calories could be perfectly fine for fat loss.

  9. Johanna says:

    @KC: No, it’s not rocket science, because human bodies are not rockets – we’re a lot more complex than that. And that’s why the “cut 3500 calories, lose a pound” idea is nonsense.

    During the time you were eating 2300 calories a day when you “should have” been eating 1700 (should have in what sense?), were you gaining a pound every six days (five pounds every month, 60 pounds every year)? I’m guessing you probably were not. That’s all you need to know.

  10. Katie says:

    The calorie discussion is particularly insane since one’s “diet” isn’t (or shouldn’t be) only about weight. I imagine that Trent was talking also about the vast disagreements among researchers about what combinations of nutrients people need, for instance. (Again, I think this is another thing that differs from person to person, but that goes back to their being no “perfect” diet.)

  11. Tara C says:

    I totally agree on the portion control – that is what has kept me at my ideal weight for all of my 45 years. I eat whatever I want, in small quantities. I only eat when I’m hungry, and I stop when I’m full.

  12. KC says:

    @ Ryan – My activity level is moderate – I have a desk job, play tennis 3 times a week and workout maybe 1-2 days beyond that.

    And I am talking about net calories. If I play tennis for 90 minutes I burn 400 calories. That means I can allow myself 2100 calories to eat that day and still stay on track. But truth be told I don’t usually end up eating that much – maybe 1950 calories – cause I’m eating more protein those days I’m more active.

  13. ryan says:

    @KC…I would keep protein the same on all days. Increase carbs on your more active days and lower it on non-active days.

  14. Justin says:

    I think besides portion control, simply eating high quality foods is very important.

    I can eat a small portion of ice cream and its still not getting me closer to my health or weight loss goals.

    That’s not saying you should never eat it, but we should all just realize that portion control + quality food is whats important.

  15. littlepitcher says:

    If you RV, save money for repairs. If you are driving a self-contained unit instead of a vehicle and camper trailer, you are out of luck if you break down in a county with no park and you are low on funds. If you have a camper trailer, don’t try to tow it with a 4 cylinder–speaking from experience. Also note that RV’s have little insulation and you will need to plan to spend your winters in a hospitable climate.
    RV parks are an economical solution for singles living if you have a travel trailer in good condition and the park regulations are reasonable. Monthly park fees often are far below rates for an efficiency apartment, and parks are equipped with laundromats, cable TV and wireless.

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