Shape Up & Drop 10™

Step 1 — Achieving Fullness on Fewer Calories

In Step 1 we are going to concentrate on one issue: FOOD. We will share the secrets of achieving fullness on fewer calories. To give you the bottom line up front: we are going to concentrate on a nutritious low calorie eating plan that is based on cereals, salads and soups. It will set you up for a lifetime of healthful eating that will protect and enhance your health in addition to helping you manage your weight.

We are assuming you have gone into the Shape Up America! Cyberkitchen and have let the Cyberkitchen calculate your personal daily calorie goal. You need to keep your personal calorie goal in mind as we go through Step 1.

In Step 1, we offer some model meals that will guide you. The model meals will focus your attention on simple strategies that will offer you plenty of food but fewer calories. We will walk you through a day and talk to you about eating as we go along.

6 AM — Wake Up, Stretch and Take a Drink

Wake up and do some nice stretches and yawns to get the kinks out of your back and joints. Drink a 12-ounce glass of water to rehydrate your body after your night's sleep.

Eat Breakfast:

You may be wondering if breakfast eating is a good idea for weight control. On the whole, the research shows that eating breakfast is helpful. Secret #1 is to eat breakfast daily. The type of breakfast we want you to eat looks like the following:

Model Breakfast — Secret #2 Cereal is Your Friend

Start with a bowl of oatmeal (or substitute any other cereal offering about 150 calories and no less than 4 grams dietary fiber per serving). We chose McCann's Oatmeal that was cooked the old fashioned way in 30 minutes. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup dry oatmeal in 2 cups of water to make two servings. Eat the first serving today and refrigerate the second serving in a microwavable single serve container for use on another day (Timesaver Tip). Quaker has microwavable quick oatmeal that cooks in minutes that is only 150 calories and 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving.

We use cold cereals for convenience and you can too, provided that you read the nutrition label on the box to check the calories and dietary fiber per serving. Secret #2 is cereal, because cereal is filling. So choose cereal, but choose wisely. In fact, Secret #3 is choosing the right cereal in the right amount. Select a low-calorie, high fiber cereal, and keep your portion size under control. Let the nutrition label on the box be your guide.

Aim for at least 4 grams of dietary fiber in a serving and keep your serving as close to 150 calories as possible.

We used most of 1 cup of non-fat (skim) milk on our oatmeal and the rest of the milk was used in our coffee or tea. To sweeten the oatmeal, we used half a tablespoon of maple syrup, but a sugar free sweetener could be used instead.

Secret #4 is to choose fruit instead of juice. Cut up 1 apple to top your oatmeal (or take it with you for a mid-morning snack). Choosing fruit gives us the benefit of more fiber, providing a sense of fullness on fewer calories. Remember: your daily goal is fullness on fewer calories.

We used the US Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Data Base (USDA NDB) to give the score on breakfast:

Food Calories Fiber grams Fat grams Carb grams USDA NDB#
Oatmeal (1/4 cup dry)145422608121
Milk (1 cup) non-fat86001201151
Maple Syrup (1/2 Tbsp.)2600819353
Apple (1 Medium)81402109003

We recommend another glass of water with breakfast — 8 ounces is plenty. If you drink caffeinated beverages, like coffee or tea, remember the caffeine is dehydrating. So drinking some water with breakfast is important. You don't get any calories in plain tea or coffee. The calories are found in the milk, cream and sugar you add to your coffee or tea.

What happens if you add an egg and a slice of buttered toast to this breakfast? You add 80 calories per egg, 65 calories per slice of bread (or toast), and 36 calories for one pat of butter or margarine. We are inclined to eat a bigger breakfast on a weekend when we know we are going to go for a hike or some other form of exercise for an hour or more.

Model Lunch — Secret #5: Salad is your friend (salad dressing is not)

Without a doubt, salad is the most visually beautiful, nutritious and delicious low calorie choice for any meal. Here we are presenting it as your main course for lunch, but we often choose salad for a dinner entrée, topped with a 2-3 ounce serving of steak or chicken or fish or cheese or beans or whatever, to give it a bit more substance.

For lunch today, make a base of 2-3 cups of salad greens. Greens provide only 8-12 calories per cup!!! We selected 1 cup of spinach greens and 2 cups of lettuce greens for our salad. Top your greens with cut up vegetables in a variety of colors.

Suggested Veggies:

  • Red beets
  • Green pepper
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Green beans (beware—some salad bars offer a three bean salad of green, kidney and yellow beans—which is already in a salad dressing. This bean combo is still a good nutritious choice provided you don't add any additional dressing)

Suggested salad toppings:

  • 2 oz. chicken (skinless, grilled with no sauce)
  • 2 oz. salmon (steamed or grilled, no sauce)
  • 2 oz. tuna fish (canned, packed in water or grilled, no sauce)
  • 2 oz. boiled potato (plain) leftover from the night before
  • 1/2 cup of cooked pasta (plain—no dressing; the idea is to add a controlled amount of your own dressing at the end)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) beans (such as kidney beans)

If none of the ingredients you chose came in a dressing, then go ahead and add 2 tablespoons of the salad dressing of your choice and toss your salad well. Our salad dressing is made of 2/3 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup balsamic (or wine) vinegar, seasoned with one clove of peeled fresh garlic minced or put through a garlic press, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Make this dressing in an old peanut butter jar with a tight fitting lid and shake thoroughly. To make this dressing lower in calories, remember that the calories are in the oil, and not in the vinegar or spices. You can reduce the calories by making this salad dressing half oil and half vinegar before adding the rest of the ingredients. If you find this lower calorie dressing too tart, try adding one teaspoon of sugar to cut the tartness.

Enjoy an orange and 1/2 cup non-fat cottage cheese for dessert or save it for an afternoon snack. Don't forget to include one 12-ounce glass of water with lunch.

Here's the score for the Model Lunch we selected from the choices above:

Food Calories Fiber grams Fat grams Carb grams USDA NDB#
Salad Greens (3 cups)3030611253
Red Beets (1/2 cup)2610611084
Green Pepper (1/2 cup)2010511333
Yellow squash (1/2 cup)1110311641
Pasta Cooked (1/2 cup)80001720098
Beans (1/2 cup)113614011713
Orange (medium)65201609200
Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup non-fat)9600401014
Salad Dressing (2 Tbsp.)144016104133

Are you impressed by how much food is on your plate? Yet your salad (without the dressing) is only 441 calories. Look at the calorie list above. The veggies are the lightweights, adding very few calories but lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Secret #5: vegetables are always a good choice at any meal because they are colorful, low in calories, and they offer dietary fiber and a wide variety of valuable nutrients that benefit your health (cancer and heart disease protection).

Secret #6 — Control the Salad Dressing

The biggest contributor to the calories in your salad is the dressing. Remember that salad is your friend, while dressing is not. Dressing is terrific for adding flavor, and we love it. But you have to control the amount you add carefully and toss your salad well to make a small amount of dressing go a long way. That is the secret to a good, low calorie salad, even one made with regular salad dressing. So use the salad bar, but choose carefully and watch the dressing! Use your measuring spoon to control the quantity. If you are in a restaurant, insist on ordering your salad dressing "on the side" so you can add only a little to your salad. Most restaurants add way too much!

Dinner—The Problem is the Preparation, Portions and Leftovers

The first problem with dinner is all the eating you do while getting it on the table. So be prepared (Secret #7): Have some cut up veggies at the ready for low calorie nibbling as you prepare dinner. Remember that celery has almost no calories. We always have celery available during meal preparation. We like to have a few olives handy because we like the salty flavor in combination with the celery or carrots. Another great combination is olives with grape (or cherry) tomatoes. Secret #8: For tiny foods like olives, grapes, cherry tomatoes, etc. follow the rule of ten. That rule states that 10 is a reasonable portion for tiny food items. We use that rule for nuts, for example. If you go out to buy the biggest olives in the deli, we suggest you follow the rule of five. The rule of five is for people who want to get around the rule of ten.

The next problem with dinner is the portion sizes. Secret #9 is to master the topic of portion control. This means learning what is an appropriate amount of EVERYTHING you eat and drink. We will talk about this topic at greater length at another time. For now, we urge you to study the Shape Up America! tutorial on Portion Control if you have not already done so.

Model Dinner — Soup is Your Friend

This dinner is centered on a hearty bowl of soup. Soup is Secret #10, because soup is wonderfully filling. We like to choose a soup that offers plenty of veggies for all of the reasons we discussed at lunch. But for those of you who enjoy meat, it offers lots of iron, zinc and B-vitamins as well as loads of flavor. Soup substitutions are discussed below.

  • 10 black olives
  • Celery sticks made from two stalks of cut up celery (about 80 grams)
  • Carrot sticks made from 2 medium carrots cut up (about 150 grams)
  • A 10 ounce bowl of hearty vegetable beef soup
  • A small lettuce and tomato salad with fresh mushrooms, 2 ounces of cheese, and 1 Tablespoon dressing
  • One 2-ounce whole wheat roll
Food Calories Fiber grams Fat grams Carb grams USDA NDB#
Olives (10 black Greek)6527209193
Celery (two stalks)1210311143
Carrots (two medium)62401511124
Vegetable Beef Soup (10 oz.)192552506071
Salad Greens (1 cup)1000211253
Tomato (medium)2410511882
Mushrooms (1/2 cup)900311260
Parmesan Cheese (1 oz.)11107101033
Salad Dressing (1 Tbsp.)7208104133
Roll (2 oz. whole wheat)140422818348

You can substitute any other broth-based soup that is appealing. Steer clear of heavy cream soups! To substitute, select a soup that delivers a serving less than 200 calories if you intend to stay within your calorie limits. If you want a certain soup but it contains more than 200 calories in a 10-ounce serving, you can always make your serving size smaller to compensate. But a smaller serving may not leave you as satisfied. And you may be unable to leave a few ounces in the bowl. Once it is in front of you, you may be tempted to eat it all. In making your soup selection, your goal is to eat hearty, not fatty.

The big surprise in this meal is the Parmesan Cheese. Just a small amount goes a long way on flavor. This is Secret #11: choose accent foods that are high in flavor. We selected a good old-fashioned Parmesan cheese from the deli for our model dinner, but you can experiment to find tasty lower fat cheeses that are lower in calories.

Note that the roll is only 2 ounces (get out your food scale to weigh out a 2 oz. roll and see how big this is), but it delivers 140 calories. This is why experienced navigators will command the waiter to remove the breadbasket when they sit down at the table. For many of us, bread is an invitation to overeat. Note also that we offered no butter or margarine at this meal. We are trying to get you to use plain bread to "mop up" remaining salad dressing after you eat your salad, or use it to enjoy the last bits of your soup.

Secret #12 is Skip Dessert

Dessert is a tricky topic because it can be a source of loads of calories that offer little nutritional value. The calories in most rich desserts come from saturated fat and cholesterol that can damage your heart. So for now, we recommend you skip dessert.

Leftovers — The Threat of Cleaning Up

Do you eat all the leftovers when you are cleaning up after your meal? Have your single serve plastic containers ready so that the minute your meal is over, you pop the leftovers into the containers. They will be ready for you to use for lunch on another day and they will be safely out of sight so you won't be tempted to eat them. These plastic containers are our Secret #13. If this strategy does not work for you, you have to serve only enough food so that there are no leftovers. This takes planning, but it can be done.

Where do we Stand?

Total Calories for this model day is 1620 and the fat calories are about 27% of total calories, which is very good. If you have visited our Cyberkitchen and you know your calorie goal has to be lower than 1600 calories, here are the best ways to cut the calories even more, while protecting your nutritional delivery as much as possible.

  • At breakfast, cut out the maple syrup and use a zero calorie sweetener instead — 20 calories saved.
  • At lunch, cut out the half cup of pasta to save 80 calories
  • At dinner, eat only 5 Greek olives as an appetizer and save 30 calories
  • At lunch and dinner, use a fat free salad dressing and save 200 calories more
By making these modifications, your total Calories have now been reduced to 1290 for the day, but nutritional quality and dietary fiber content of your meals is still excellent.

A Word to the Lucky Dieters With Higher Calorie Goals:

If you have visited our Cyberkitchen and you know your calorie goal should be higher than 1620, here is what you can do. After dinner, enjoy a piece of fruit and a small (1-2 ounce) piece of cheese. This is a dessert or meal finisher you will be offered in many European restaurants. We are suggesting about 100 calories for the fruit and no more than 200 calories for the cheese. Another idea is to enjoy a small serving of nuts. A half ounce of pecans (time to get out a scale to weigh out a half ounce of nuts) will add 95 calories. Nuts will also add more fat grams to your diet, but if you stay within your calorie goal, this type of fat is perfectly OK. If you want a low fat addition that will add fiber and calcium to your diet, enjoy a bowl of cereal as a snack. We do it all the time. You can pick up 150 calories in the cereal and 40 calories in the half-cup of skim milk.

Water before Bedtime

We hear you yawning. You have worked hard today. And there is a great deal of material here to master. Remember you have two weeks to study it and put it into practice. So drink a 12-ounce glass of water and tuck yourself in bed. Congratulations on your commitment to the Shape Up America! Shape Up & Drop 10™ program.


What is so great about these model meals? We delivered LOTS of food and 39 grams of dietary fiber in 1620 calories, which is excellent. The foods that are rich in dietary fiber are known to offer protection against cancer and heart disease. Not only are we watching your weight, we are watching your health at the same time.

The model meals emphasized cereals, soups and salads. We offered only water to drink (In Step 2 of Shape Up & Drop 10™ you will receive more information on drinking and dieting). If you will accept this style of eating as a way of life, you will feel full on the lowest possible number of calories. The added benefit to your health is that we have maximized your vegetable and fruit intake, offering loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Homework Exercises:

Supermarket Exercise: Go to the cereal section in your supermarket and see if you can find a cereal offering the fewest calories and the most dietary fiber per serving. Bring a pen and paper to write down the information so that you keep track. Ask your kids to help.

Home exercise: This exercise requires a food scale — even a very inexpensive postage scale will do. Pull out your favorite cereal box from your kitchen cabinet. Go get your favorite bowl that you typically use for cereal. Pour the amount of cereal into the bowl that you typically eat. Now weigh that amount of cereal and write down the weight you typically eat. Now inspect the nutrition label on the cereal package. You will see a weight in grams or ounces on the label. Use your food scale to carefully weigh out the serving size specified on the nutrition label. Be sure to select the correct setting on your food scale. Compare the two weights. If your typical serving is bigger than the serving on the nutrition label, calculate how many extra calories you are eating. This is a great exercise for your kids as well. It will increase their awareness of portion control and strengthen their math skills. In general, kids should have smaller portions than adults.

Home exercise: Use your food scale to weigh out the bread you use in a typical sandwich, or for your toast or for your rolls. One serving of bread weighs one ounce. Does your bread weigh one ounce? If your bread weighs two ounces, it counts as two servings. Maybe you use two slices weighing 3 ounces? That counts as three servings. Do you eat bagels? How much does one bagel weigh? Check the nutrition label on the package. How much dietary fiber is in your bread? When it comes to bread, the secret (Secret #14) to fullness on fewer calories is the dietary fiber. You want to choose a bread that offers as much fiber per serving as possible.

Home Exercise: Use your 2-cup measuring cup to measure out 10 ounces of water. Pour it into your favorite soup bowl. Take a good look at the level of the water in the bowl. This is a reasonable portion size for soup. When you are eating in or out, aim to consume a similar sized serving. Portion control is a key to long-term success.

Supermarket/Home Exercise: Go to the supermarket and pick out a new vegetable you have never tasted before. Talk to your grocer about the vegetable. They often know special ways to prepare it and enjoy it. Bring it home and wash it. Taste the new vegetable raw. How does it taste? Is it pleasant? Steam it and taste it again. How does it taste? Learn how to really taste vegetables. Many people drench their vegetables in dressing and don't realize how tasty most vegetables really are — even raw vegetables. Our goal is to help you learn to appreciate the taste of vegetables either raw or steamed. This is another great exercise for kids.

Home Exercise: Take the Shape Up America! Portion Control tutorial and email us if you have any questions.

Home Exercise: Re-read Step 1 and make sure you understand it. We invite you to email us with your questions.

Recommended Reading: Volumetrics by Barbara Rolls. Dr. Rolls is a friend and colleague and her book is filled with information on how to achieve fullness on fewer calories. See if your library has a copy. If not, ask them to order it.

Summary of Secrets:

  1. Eat breakfast daily.
  2. Eat cereal with skim milk
  3. Select high fiber, low calorie cereal
  4. Choose fruit instead of juice
  5. Eat salad (choose a variety of colorful vegetables)
  6. Control the salad dressing!
  7. Develop a low calorie nibbling strategy
  8. The rule of 10 (for tiny foods)
  9. Master portion control
  10. Eat soup
  11. Select small amounts of high flavor accent foods
  12. Skip dessert
  13. Plastic single serve containers for leftovers
  14. Choose bread, cereal and pasta that is high in dietary fiber

Bottom Line for Step 1 — Fullness on Fewer Calories:

Develop a new way of eating that is healthy and helps you manage your weight. Choose Cereals, Soups and Salads. Aim for cereals, breads and pastas that are as high in dietary fiber as possible, because it is filling. Choose a variety of colorful vegetables to make the meal pretty and nutritious. Skip dessert and choose fruit instead. Drink only water.

Proceed to Step 2 of Shape Up & Drop 10™

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