03 Sep2007


I have done a pure South Beach Diet, exactly as written in the book for two whole weeks, a couple of years ago, and I lost maybe 8+ pounds. I didn’t have a grain of rice or any other bad carbohydrate, to my knowledge. It was wicked hard, but doable, save for a few food deprivation migraines. Later, I altered that strict regimen to develop a sort of “South Forbes Diet,” (name copyrighted to Marketmanila :)) that tried to emulate the low carb concept but with more local dishes. I lost weight on that too. The issue is really how to keep it off and remain eating healthy all year round. Considering that I write about food constantly, have 3 refrigerators in the house stocked with ingredients, and am constantly scouring markets for what is in season, I actually consider it a minor achievement that I am not 100 pounds overweight. And if I have to suffer for say 3 months out of a 12 month period to remain within striking distance of my ideal weight, I think that is pretty good. So this time around, I have decided to loosen the parameters and rather than strictly dieting, I am simply pulling back…


Now I will eat less carbohydrates, replacing white rice with red rice and eating less of it, pulling back on meats and measuring protein in square inches, eating AS MANY VEGGIES as my stomach desires, eliminating most sweets (but not all), and drinking more water than usual. I also have to exercise far more regularly than I have in the last few months. I won’t bore you with the daily grind and menu details, but suffice it to say that breakfasts are either homemade granola with some low fat yogurt and a piece of fruit and unsugared tea; or a scrambled egg or two with a piece of wheat toast or a small serving of cheese. When I am in dire need of something to eat between meals, I have a protein shake, homemade with skim milk, a little whey and some frozen strawberries or half a banana. And here is one of my main meals (actually my dinner last night), served on a smaller plate and in this case chopsticks, since that forces me to eat slower… The dinner was 1/2 cup of red rice, fluffed up, served with about 4 square inches of bangus steamed with young ginger, kikkoman soy sauce and pepper, and a cup and a half of “dry stir-fried” broccoli and asparagus with lemon and a few drops of soy sauce. To make the dry stir-fry, heat up a pan, spray with some Pam (vegetable spray), throw in the veggies, add some salt, and toss frequently until some of their natural moisture emerges, then add lemon juice and some soy sauce until just cooked. With a half a mango for dessert, this meal represents a -300 to -500 calorie reduction from what I might have eaten for dinner and it wasn’t a huge sacrifice… Oh, a “normal” dinner might have meant one half of a small fried boneless bangus, several tablespoons of homemade acharra, vinegar and chilli, 1.5 cups of rice and possibly some ginataang kalabasa at sitaw (squash and long beans in coconut milk) and a whole mango for dessert. :(



  1. tulip says:

    I hope you get back in shape.Dieting is one big task. I used to teach dieting at symposiums years ago and numerous people came up to me to have personal diet/workout plans. Nowadays, only about 5% continued to follow their diets, for health reasons. Others go yoyo. You can still enjoy eating and keep your weight, I believe.

    Sep 3, 2007 | 2:11 pm


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  3. charmaine says:

    hi MM…am goin to start dieting also..been reading your blog sometime last year…please share your menus and give us some tips also… ;)
    goodluck to us!!!

    Sep 3, 2007 | 2:33 pm

  4. sometime_lurker says:

    Loving the “normal” supper! :-p

    Sep 3, 2007 | 2:44 pm

  5. sometime_lurker says:

    btw, nice china!

    love the sticks, too.
    very handy out here… where’d u get them, MM?


    Sep 3, 2007 | 2:45 pm

  6. elaine says:

    I guess there’s no such thing as the perfect diet…everything still depends on portion control. I find that dieting is never fun when I have to ‘deprive’ myself of certain favorites. Food is meant to be enjoyed, don’t you think? But in moderation..and if I don’t feel hungry then i don’t eat. Re-focusing your attention from food if you’re not really hungry..(book credits: mindless eating and french women don’t get fat..nice reads:))

    Sep 3, 2007 | 3:06 pm

  7. dizzy says:

    early this year, i cut down on rice and instead, always had chilled cucumbers with vinaigrette with most of my meals to “compensate” for the diminished rice serving. i also tried with much effort to get some exercise. it worked and it did me good to want to be healthier. kaya lang, soon as i got off the excess weight, kain na naman ako ng kain. so i have to start all over, hehe.
    but i am always careful when i say i’m dieting because i have two daughters and i don’t want to give them the wrong idea on why i’m cutting down on my food intake. i tell them i’m just eating healthier because i am heavier than usual and it makes me less energetic and more lethargic most of the time (which is quite true). plus the fact that i cannot fit into my own version of skinny jeans. =)

    Sep 3, 2007 | 3:29 pm

  8. DADD-F says:

    Good luck on your dieting MM. You’ve done it before, you can, you shall, do it again. Me, I managed to lose 10 lbs in a month before when I suddenly realised that my waistline turned a big 25–that was years ago, of course. Hehe…. Anyway, I don’t bother with diet formulas. I just practice moderation and balance the kinds of food I eat. And yes, more of the green stuff–fruits and veggies. Good thing I/we’re not big on red meat. Not even chicken. Only fish and other seafoods. Then, there’s exercise. And whenever I binge, it’s bawi time immediately after. Definitely, I do not deprive myself. Only mindful of the portions.

    I am quite hefty now. No one else to blame but myself. And now that am trying to trim the excess weight off, I try to do the things I did before which I believe is simply sensible.

    You mentioned that you sometimes have a craving for something in-between meals. You know, back then, I hardly stopped munching so much so that my co-workers were really laughing at me and making fun of my so-called efforts at dieting. But like I said, I did lose 10 pounds. I did have a total of only 1 cup of rice for the whole day and equally small portions of viands, mainly fish and vegetables. For the rest of the day, including my evening meals, I have fruits. What broke the monotony? A maximum of 9 pcs. of soda crackers in a day. Every now and then, I binge on chocolates. Still, I lost weight.

    Oh, and I always preferred to walk–even to this day–than take rides. And if, as you diet, you’re able to cook up some delighfully delicious, diet-friendly meals, i-share mo ha.

    Sep 3, 2007 | 3:32 pm

  9. Trina says:

    Oh let’s face it, dieting (or the more positive ‘eating healthier’) is really not much fun especially for foodies, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves. Personally I’ve lost about 50 lbs on Atkins/South Beach coupled with regular gym workouts plus pilates sessions in a span of about 2 years. I managed to keep the weight off by making ‘eating healthy’ and working out part of my lifestyle, but I’m on a break now because I’m pregnant. Aside from the baby needing more carbs than I regularly take, I just CRAVE carbs! And giving in has made me realize how deprived I’ve been the past years :p Losing the weight and being healthier was worth it, yes, but the truth is, there’s really more joy in eating now that I’m not too strict on myself. I guess the lesson is we really can’t have our cake and eat it too :)

    Sep 3, 2007 | 4:00 pm

  10. portugalbear says:

    Good luck MM. What helped me during those moments of craving was a box of Nestle Fitnesse cereal. This is what i munch in lieu of chips and it does help keep your weight down. Mind you it actually taste pretty good and it’s healthy pa because it’s whole wheat cereal. By the time lunch comes, you’re too full to eat more. Try it.

    Sep 3, 2007 | 4:51 pm

  11. RobKSA says:

    Doing some dieting as well. Lots of water. 9″ plate, 1/2 vege, 1/4 carbo and 1/4 protein. exercize (walking 1 hour per day or 1/2 hour stationary jogging). green tea. don’t miss breakfast. six meals a day including apple or some sour fruit for snacks. protein before bedtime, yes you heard it right. No coffee, no microwave, what else.. later, I have not finished reading the book. Goodluck MM.

    Sep 3, 2007 | 4:52 pm

  12. suzette says:

    eating with chopsticks is a very good dieting strategy! a full glass of water before a meal and a less attractive plate would do too :)

    Sep 3, 2007 | 4:55 pm

  13. k says:

    Hi MM! I can really relate to your dieting woes. The other day, I was just thinking about how I am able to go back to my ideal weight every five years. Aside from health reasons, being able to fit into the clothes I want to wear motivates me to lose weight. I’ve tried different diets, including a no carbs diet for two weeks, but once I start eating carbs again, I end up compensating for the days when I missed my pastas and cakes. Hahaha.

    I’ve done it before, but I find it quite difficult to go on a diet anytime because I also need to prepare myself psychologically for it. Otherwise, I easily give in to temptation and postpone the diet.

    I think your new diet is more sensible because you’re not depriving yourself of any of the food groups. It’s healthier and more realistic.

    I combine dieting with regular exercise and usually find that doing one motivates me to do the other also.

    I like your idea of using chopsticks because it could really force you to eat more slowly and therefore eat less and fell full at once. After all, they say it takes some time before one’s brain realizes that one is full already.

    Suzette, you’re right about the full glass of water. It has zero calories, it’s cleansing, it’s good for the skin and for every part of the body. I read somewhere that one should try drinking a glass of water first when one feels hungry. Sometimes, the body is just dehydrated and not really hungry. Drinking water in between meals not only contributes to weight loss but also to overall health.

    Easier said than done, though :)

    Sep 3, 2007 | 5:15 pm

  14. Mangaranon says:

    Ay! I tried to start the Atkins induction the other but in a few hours — gave up. It gave me headaches. Breakfast is the key — can you suggest what I should eat? I’m in New York and don’t like the fare here. I need to lose a lot of weight.

    Sep 3, 2007 | 6:18 pm

  15. Apicio says:

    Here is an interesting diet strategy that uses your work-out activity as a reference point for what to eat:


    Sep 3, 2007 | 7:50 pm

  16. tulip says:

    Be careful with diets, not just any kind of diet works with any individual. When I was teaching dieting and health management I always tell people to please consult medical professionals before going at it. Especially if you are in your 40s up. Popular Atkins, South Beach and the likes are good for some but not for all. Still a diet that doesnt really deprives you from eating anything is suitable and yes manageable with good results. Lessen anything gradually is one good step.
    Good health to all. Few months before the holidays, just think of the coming holiday as a treat after months of dieting.

    Sep 3, 2007 | 9:00 pm

  17. nang says:

    i think the best way to keep the weight off is to find a physical activity that you enjoy and can do regularly and to eat everything in moderation. fad diets are almost always based on some form of deprivation which is why most people cannot stick to them for the long haul. regular exercise and a sensible diet (and maybe a few treats every now and then). that’s really the way to go.

    Sep 3, 2007 | 9:22 pm

  18. sha says:

    MM my boss is on Montignac diet seems to be doing well
    I have lost lots of kilos though work and have no time to test recipes as well.

    Well good luck its a challenge for a food blogger like you.

    Sep 3, 2007 | 9:53 pm

  19. allen says:

    Can’t you just increase physical activity instead of dieting? :)

    Sep 3, 2007 | 11:03 pm

  20. Myra P. says:

    Mangaranon, if you’re in nyc, walk, walk, walk :) There’s also this really yummy vegetarian resto in the upper east called Gobo whose takeout menu you can steal for ideas to really cut on fatty red meats. The recipes are mostly asian-based, not american fare you arent fond of.

    One of my favorite quick weight-loss tricks is to substitute rice for ginisang togue (sauteed beansprouts). Saute in broth, not oil. Don’t make it too salty; too much salt in your diet will make you retain water. Keep it crunchy for texture. You can eat as much as you want without worry :)

    Sep 3, 2007 | 11:10 pm

  21. Myra P. says:

    … substitute rice ‘with’ ginisang togue…

    Sep 4, 2007 | 12:28 am

  22. Apicio says:

    Myra P. I border on the Martha Stewartish only in this regard, I grow my own togue and saute it as my default meal just as you do. I think it’s a good thing.

    Sep 4, 2007 | 1:52 am

  23. gerri says:

    Yup togue is good and more so with tokwa/tofu. Btw MM what’s the difference with tempeh & tofu?

    Sep 4, 2007 | 8:18 am

  24. bernadette says:

    gardening definitely keeps me fit :-)…I also tried this stretching exercise called Tibetan exercises. They look simple but also call for proper breathing and quietness of mind. Keeps the belly trim too even when I have the urge to eat a lot of carbo. But then, I really prefer gardening to just exercising in a room.

    Sep 4, 2007 | 8:20 am

  25. bluegirl says:

    Caveat about Atkins diet… My sister went on a serious Atkins diet and ended up with a *LOT* of hair loss. She later found out that the carb deprivation was triggering it. She had to restore some carb back into her diet.

    Don’t forget about hidden fat! I thought I was doing all things right but my weight would not budge one bit. Then when I logged the food I was eating and took a serious look at the ingredients and how it was being prepared, I discovered there was soooo much hidden fat! A week ago I switched my food to more fresh & steamed and my weight just started to go down.

    Sep 4, 2007 | 8:46 am

  26. Jennifer says:

    MM, wasn’t it hard eating fluffed-up rice from a plate? Why not try a bowl?

    Sep 4, 2007 | 9:28 am

  27. CecileJ says:

    Since I “can’t relate” to South Forbes”, I tried my own “South Expressway” diet last year (I live in Paranaque).

    Made my own tapa from sirloin and used equal, salt & fresh ground pepper or garlic, vinegar, s & p. Made pork steak out of lomo, calamansi, toyo, onions and fried it in EVOO. Ate salad greens with homemade tofu mayo or strawberry vinaigrette, etc. For between meal hunger pangs, ate handfuls of sungsong peanuts. Cut out the carbs and sweets for two weeks and for phase 2 brought back the cood carbs & sugar-free sweets. Wasn’t too much of a sacrifice except that I had to wake up earlier than usual to prepare my “baon”. Worked for me and Have been conscious of what I eat since then. Managed to keep the weight off for a year now…

    Good luck, MM! Am rooting for you!!!!

    Sep 4, 2007 | 10:07 am

  28. HD says:

    Good luck MM! Well at least dieting works for you. I know of some people who totally messed up their metabolism because of trying different kinds of fad diets. Now the fats doesn’t come off however hard they try.

    Sep 4, 2007 | 11:32 am

  29. fried-neurons says:

    Good luck on your diet, MM!

    I’ve been trying to lose a few extra pounds as well. Trouble is, I have ZERO discipline. About the only thing I’ve been able to do successfully is to cut down on my Coke intake. Each 12-ounce can of Coke has over 150 calories, and I used to drink at least 5 cans a day. Now I’m down to one can a day. For the rest of my caffeine intake (I am ADDICTED to caffeine), I switched to coffee sweetened with Splenda.

    Sep 4, 2007 | 12:28 pm

  30. Trish says:

    Good luck,MM!!! You’ve done it before, and you can do it again.

    I started living a healthier lifestyle about 2 months ago and have lost 23 pounds since i started!!!
    Atkins and South Beach didn’t work for me. Portion control and daily exercise did.

    I love my carbo too much to give it up completely, so I settled for wheat pandesal for breakfast and dinner (Walter’s Sugar Free Wheat pandesal is soooo yuymmy!!!). I only take half a cup of rice with fish and veggies for lunch
    I hit the gym 6x a week and focus on a lot of cardio daily and strength training 4x a week. All it takes is about 1 1/2 hours in the gym.
    Sunday is my “cheat day” and i get to eat what I want.

    I hope that you wouldn’t stop writing about food because I love reading them!!! Maybe, you can write about healthier cooking and food preparation while you’re on a diet. That’s something I’d love to read from you too.

    Here’s wishing you the best of luck on your healthier lifestyle.

    Sep 4, 2007 | 6:44 pm

  31. AnnaT says:

    I had followed a variation of the South Beach Diet before and it was effective on getting off the weight I gained on my second pregnancy. However, I’m still not within my “ideal weight”. Research says the females tend to imagine their ideal weight so unrealistically low so maybe I’m already within mine :) .

    Things that have been effective for me are:
    1. eating brown rice instead of white.
    2. adding a lot of veggie side dishes. It is summer here in Minnesota so that means farmers market galore. With an abundance of Asian veggies in the market, it is easy to bring some in the office and steam it in microwave.
    3. getting rid of junk food at home. This one is for my husband because I’m not fond of junk food and at the same time for my kids so they won’t get used to it.
    4. not skipping breakfast. It’s usually granola and yogurt plus any fruit that looked good in the market. I also like grapefruit with avocado. Avocados although fatty, contains good fat that can also help in increasing the good cholesterol.

    Sep 4, 2007 | 9:49 pm

  32. JR says:

    I lost 70lbs in 6 mos. and gained about15lbs of muscles….increasing your body’s metabolism is the key. I eat 6 meals per day. proper portions of carbs,protein, and fat plus fruit and vegetables. I ditched anything heavily processed and went for whole foods.exercise regularly 4-6x/week with both cardio and strength training. its tough @ first but is sure is worth it….good luck MM,keep motivated and you’ll melt those extra pounds in no time.

    Sep 4, 2007 | 10:57 pm

  33. Myra P. says:

    Apicio, the only time I grew my own togue was in grade school for biology, LOL. I’m sure you all remember having to grow monggo seeds on a wet tissue… Imagine my deja vu when I found myself assisting my son with the exact same experiment last year…

    But seriously, how do you grow togue in bulk? Would the product count as ‘organic’?

    Sep 5, 2007 | 2:39 am

  34. Maria Clara says:

    To stay fit is physical and emotional challenge like trekking in a slippery slope full of valleys and hills. It takes a lot of courage, sweat and discipline and the reward is noticeable – when you dress up there is no battle with the zipper. The zipper will zip at a breeze!

    Sep 5, 2007 | 3:32 am

  35. Marketman says:

    thank you everyone for those inspiring comments, tips, diet tricks, etc. I agree that copious amounts of exercise combined with careful choice of intake is really the way to go… let’s see if I manage to lose the weight before Christmas… :)

    Sep 5, 2007 | 8:07 am

  36. Apicio says:

    Myra P, I picked up this three tiered plastic round trays with fine ridges on the bottom to retain water from a hippy fair oh in the early seventies. The bean sprouts you get here are about three inches long but I want mine just germinated and about to cast off its green skin (2 cms say). As one of the commenters above said, it is great sauteed with taufu, onions and black mushrooms eaten as is or used for filling for fried lumpia or okoy. If you use organic beans I guess it would be organic but in any case I felt vindicated doing this all these years because there was a serious break out of e. coli here in Toronto last year that they traced to several batches of bean sprouts. Just to think that they dump them raw in Vietnamese soup makes me shiver.

    Sep 5, 2007 | 9:53 am

  37. CecileJ says:

    Trish, try the wheat pandesal of the house bakery at Shopwise. Best whole wheat pandesal I’ve tasted so far.

    Sep 5, 2007 | 10:32 am

  38. treehugger says:

    My eyeballs nearly popped out of their sockets when I read about your three refrigerators. I refrain from counting the carbon dioxide emissions. I hope they are energy efficient for your pocket and the environment.

    Sep 5, 2007 | 3:09 pm

  39. Marketman says:

    treehugger, I try to make up for it by planting over 100 hardwood trees per annum and using a market basket to reduce on plastic waste… :)

    Sep 5, 2007 | 3:47 pm

  40. Myra P. says:

    Apicio, yeah, when I make pho, I do pause a second before dropping in the raw beansprouts… :P But if you have constructive, step by step tips for growing my own beansprouts, please send the info my way! MM has my email addy. I dont have tiered, ridged plastic trays like you, what can I use instead?

    Sep 5, 2007 | 4:04 pm

  41. Shay says:

    that don’t seem to look really appetizing. Your red rice looks a little different from the one I have. I eat red rice too! I bought this thai red cargo rice at Carrefour and they don’t seem to soften as yours in the picture above. What kind of red rice is that? More importantly how do you cook it to make it really soft and gentle to my teeth? They can be as hard as stone sometimes. Ouch!

    Sep 7, 2007 | 9:52 am

  42. annamanila says:

    You mentioned frozen strawberries. I’ve had these two packs I got from Makro really cheap, buy one take one yata. I still haven’t figured out what to do with them. Pwede ba sa cheesecake? fruit shake? Syruped and then used as icecream topping? Which reminds me i also have a big bottle of good shepherd strawberry preserves, untouched. That was why I was interested in puff pastry you mentioned in another post.

    Ty very mucho.

    Sep 7, 2007 | 12:49 pm

  43. Marketman says:

    hi annamanila, you can use the frozen strawberries in milkshakes or protein shakes. You can cook them with sugar for a sauce. Or even bake them into pies or pastries. I did a feature on a berry compote a few weeks back that might be of interest to you.

    Sep 7, 2007 | 1:18 pm


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