Most weight loss plans are difficult precisely because they involve taking away food – and depending on the psychological issues that may have been at the root of your weight gain in the first place, this can be a particularly challenging thing to do. You might find yourself rebelling, even if you are mentally committed to the idea of losing weight. You might even find that the feeling of deprivation steers you toward other self-destructive behaviors, such as smoking or drinking. If this describes you, you may well benefit from counseling to deal with your weight issues and other issues underlying your weight problems.
In the meantime, eating plans that promise to help you lose weight by adding something, rather than taking food away, might appeal to you and might actually work a lot better. This might seem counter-intuitive, in a way, because losing weight always seems to require eating less. There are some exceptions, though. One of them is a time-honored method that involves adding a meal of semolina – a cooked grain, similar to cream of wheat – three times a day. The argument is that if you eat 300 grams of cooked semolina three times a day it will make you too full to binge on other foods. Your intake of other food will be minimized, and you will lose weight.
This approach is a bit controversial, and may work best as a temporary, transitional method. For one thing, advocates of low-carb, high protein eating would be horrified at this plan. Dr. Atkins himself would roll over in his grave! Semolina is a high carb, high glycemic index food – it is pure starch. Also, eating so much of it tends to make you less hungry for all other foods, including protein. Proponents of Atkins and other high protein plans would say that this is the worst possible thing you can do for your body. Of course, we should remember that the high protein approach is also controversial, however. From a nutritionists’ point of view, neither high protein nor the semolina plan would be ideal. However, most nutritionists’ food guides put grains at the top of the chart, so the semolina plan adheres more closely to a standard food guide, as long as you make an effort to also eat enough fruits, vegetables and proteins to stay in balance.
And if you do, that would almost automatically eliminate junk food and empty calories. Few of us would be able to eat 300 g of semolina three times a day, and adequate fruits, vegetables and protein, and still be able to eat foods with excessive calories or fat. In a sense, the semolina replaces the other ‘empty’ calories that many of us (if we have a weight problem to begin with) eat as a regular part of our diet. Eating semolina might not represent optimal nutrition, of course – but it is preferable to eating foods full of fat and additives, such as potato chips, chocolate or candy. Of course, the semolina diet does not forbid any of these junk foods – it just specifies that you have to eat a certain amount of semolina a day, and make sure that you are getting enough vitamins and protein in your diet. Most people would then automatically eliminate a lot of junk food because we simply don’t have room for it.
In and of itself, semolina is really not that bad as a stable food, unless you subscribe to the ‘low carb’ philosophy (in which case, you would probably never choose this diet to begin with!). It’s low fat, it’s a natural food, and like other cereals, it comes fortified with vitamins and minerals. If eating carbohydrates is your preference – and many of us do pile on the weight by eating excessive amounts of pasta or bread – then the semolina will satisfy you. You are less likely to crave other carbohydrate-rich foods. Also, consider the fact that the semolina plan is actually quite similar to the way in which many traditional cultures ate. In the traditional Asian cuisine, for example, rice was a staple, eaten at most meals. In some European cultures, porridge (oats) would have had the same function. Though these diets might not seem balanced to us today, they kept people alive – and within a healthy weight range – for millennia!