"When it comes to eating, I'm such a Sally," my friend told me the other day at a deli.
I asked her what she meant, hesitating, because who doesn't remember that famous scene between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. "No, not because of that, silly!" she said. But it turns out, she was thinking about rapid weight loss. "Did you ever notice that while they're talking, she takes half the meat off her sandwich? I do that all the time because they always give me too much."
While we ate, we got to chatting about all the times we've seen food in movies, and how they're connected to some of the best—and worst—weight loss advice. Here's a collection of my favorites, with research from the editors of Eat This, Not That! Read on, and you'll be a pound thinner by the time the movie ends! And for more essential weight-loss tips, click here for the The 25 Foods You Should Never Eat!
First, the Best
Nothing Beats a Banana
Another Sandra Bullock movie—sort of. She voices the villain and takes part in Minions' most famous exchange:
Scarlett Overkill: Work for me, and all this will be yours. Respect, power…
Stuart the Minion: …banana?!
Scarlett Overkill: Banana!
Bananas are powerful indeed. If after a workout, you've felt like your muscles are sore—or not growing fast enough—you might not be getting enough magnesium in your diet. A good source of magnesium, bananas can help with muscle contraction and relaxation as well as protein synthesis — which, in turn, increases lean muscle mass. An added bonus: magnesium intake helps boost lipolysis, a process by which your body releases fat from its stores. One fun way to get your magnesium: Make banana tea. Just boil some water, cut off both ends of a banana (still in its peel) and boil for 7-10 minutes. And click here to discover 21 Amazing Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Bananas!
Drink More Tea
From The Karate Kid II
The The Karate Kid movies may be best remembered for "wax on, wax off" and a rad 80s soundtrack, but Part 2 has a love few minutes reveling not in combat, but tea. Set in Okinawa, the film finds our hero Daniel falling for young local Kumiko, who silently prepares tea for his…before they kiss. It's an old tradition meant for samurai before they head into battle. And in fact, the best teas for weight loss have their own individual, magic properties, from dimming your hunger hormones to upping your calorie burn to—literally—melting the fat that's stored in your fat cells. Oh, and they can also help reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, too. Discover out the best ones—and when to drink them for maximum weight loss—in our new book, The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse! Test panelists lost up to 10 pounds in one week!
Don't Overdo It
From Cool Hand Luke
Even healthy food can backfire on you if you eat too much of it. Case in point: Paul Newman wolfed down 50 hard-boiled eggs in Cool Hand Luke, leaving him feeling "like a ripe watermelon that's about to bust itself open." Eggs may be rich in protein, but eating 50 at once is nuts. Find out the 20 Healthy Foods You Better Eat in Moderation now!
Remember: Anyone Can Cook
Cook at home and cook in bulk, suggests registered dietitian Lauren Minchen. "Depending on how frequently you eat out, cooking your food at home can save you hundreds of dollars a month. And cooking in bulk is great if you're time strapped. It saves you time while allowing you to monitor the ingredients, calories, and portions in your meals. Win win win!" And if you think you can't cook, remember a rat could do it in Ratatouille, inspiring this rave review from the movie's grumpy critic: "To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core," he writes. "In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto, "Anyone can cook." But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."
Try New Things, Even If You End Up Hating Them
Josh Baskin—played masterfully by Tom Hanks, showed his true age in Big when he spits out beluga caviar. It wasn't something he'd normally eat but was willing to give it a whirl to be the adult he looked like on the outside. You won't love every food, but at least give it a try—you never know; you might love something you thought you'd hate! For a winning fish dish, we recommend wild salmon—like any of these 25 Healthy Salmon Recipes You'll Love.
Don't Chew Gum
From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Chewing gum may seem like a harmless habit, but one too many sticks can give whole new meaning to the phrase "bubble butt." Sugarless gums typically contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol known for causing bloating and other gastrointestinal distress. Sorbitol takes a relatively long time to digest, and undigested sorbitol in your small intestine acts as a hothouse for the fermentation of bacteria, causing bloating and flatulence. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Violet learns this the hard way and turns into a blueberry. Take a lesson from the Oompa Loompas: "If you are wise you'll listen to me / Gum chewing's fine when it's once in a while / It stops you from smoking and brightens your smile / But it's repulsive, revolting, and wrong / chewing and chewing all day long."
Not All Carbs Are Evil
From The Lady and The Tramp
It's safe to assume the two pups in this Disney classic weren't exactly insisting on pasta made of whole grains or pulses. But we like to think that the alternative message to this romantic, messy-food scene is that something like spaghetti doesn't have to be off limits. You can healthify it—or treat it as your cheat meal. (You might even end up getting a kiss out of the whole thing!) Check out these 20 Cheat Meal Tips for Weight Loss Success.
Eat More Chocolate
Good news for your sweet tooth: Chocolate can help you flatten your belly. Dark chocolate, that is. When possible, try to avoid milk solids, corn syrup, soy solids (except lecithin, which will likely be included), artificial sweeteners and colorings. And if you're in a hurry, look for two things: non-alkalized cocoa and a low sugar count on the nutrition label. That ensures you're getting the most health benefits with the least amount of sugar. It also boosts your sex drive, as the chocolatier in Chocolat knew all too well: "And these are for your husband. Unrefined cacao nips from Guatemala, to awaken the passions," she offers a client. "Psshh," answers the lady, "You've obviously never met my husband." "Well," says the shopkeeper, "you've obviously never tried these."
The Right Food Can Find Your Support Group
From The Goonies
Speaking of chocolate, remember in The Goonies when Chunk throws the Baby Ruth at Sloth? They became instant friends over their shared love of chocolate. If nothing else, food can give you something to talk about with another person—now more than ever, when people are more in tune with their dietary lifestyles and food preferences. While a Baby Ruth sparked something in the '80s, we've seen the way people instantly bond over things like yerba maté, spiralizers, and many more healthy food trends.
Beware the Hanger
From Miss Congeniality
"I am in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven't slept all night, I'm starved, and I'm armed! Don't mess with me!" That's Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) in Miss Congeniality. But it could just as easily be you on a random Tuesday if you're not scheduling your eating properly. One trick: schedule a cheat meal. Experts agree that having one weekly can actually help you reach your weight loss goals. Having a strategy is key. "By planning your cheat meals, you know what you'll be eating and can cut a few extra calories earlier in the day," says Jim White, RD, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. This also allows you to really pick a favorite food instead of wasting calories on something you didn't enjoy." Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, Real Nutrition NYC, gives similar advice. "Pick your poison. If you're going out, pick your splurge. Are you going to dig into carbs — like a bread basket or pasta — or dessert? Or are you planning on tossing back a few cocktails?" She urges cheaters to avoid consuming all three of those common categories at once sitting. "Focus only on one," she says, adding that by saving the others for another time you can "enjoy without going overboard."
Good Food is Worth Spending Money On
From Pulp Fiction
"Goddamn, that's a pretty f*g good milkshake," John Travolta's character said after trying an expensive $5 milkshake.
Splurging on good food might seem like a waste, especially when you can get pizza, hamburgers, and more for a dollar or less. That said, it's worth spending your cash on the good stuff, whether that "good stuff" is organic food or an expensive milkshake.
Savor Pinot Noir
Having trouble finding an affordable pinot noir? Blame Hollywood! According to economists, the 2004 movie Sideways completely reversed the wine's falling price, with the most dramatic increase in $20 to $40 wines. Also contributing to the hype: Multiple studies have demonstrated that pinot noir consistently contain the highest levels of resveratrol among wines— and resveratrol has been shown to blast fat. One study found that pinot had more than five times the amount found in California cabernet sauvignon. It tastes good, too. Says Miles in Sideways: "Oh its flavors, they're just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and… ancient on the planet." For other enjoyable ways to blast fat quickly and easily, don't miss these 50 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds—Fast!
Enjoy Your Indulgences
From Legally Blonde
"I'm Elle Woods and this is Bruiser Woods," says Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. "We're both Gemini vegetarians." They're both healthy, too—going vegetarian or vegan can be a great way to lose weight. Going vegan has worked for Bill Clinton, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé, and a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine indicates it will work for you, too. The researchers compared results of a dozen diets—including Atkins, the American Diabetes Association diet, and others—and found that those following a vegan diet could lose 5 pounds more in the short-term than those following traditional diet plans. Vegetarians, who allow themselves eggs and dairy, still fared well, losing slightly more than 3 pounds. Are you wondering which diet is best for you? Click here to check out 21 Signs You Should Change Your Diet.
And Now, the Worst…..
Don't Eat Less to Lose Weight
From The Devil Wears Prada
In a movie filled with people you shouldn't emulate, Emily, the strive fashion mag assistant, is possibly the worst.
Emily: Andrea, my God! You look so chic.
Andy Sachs: Oh, thanks. You look so thin.
Emily: Really? It's for Paris, I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything and when I feel like I'm about to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight.
Of course, you should never eat so little you faint.
But there is research that intermittent fasting leads to weight loss. People who practiced intermittent fasting for 10 weeks by having six days of "feasting" and one day of fasting showed an increase in a longevity-boosting gene called SIRT 3, according to a study published in the journal Rejuvenation Research.
How does it work? When the body undergoes periods of fasting, it produces a compound that inhibits an inflammation-triggering part of the immune system involved in the development of these scary disorders. And, by giving you the chance to eat what you want, it may help you tip the scale back in your favor, too.
Don't Do a Sugary Juice Cleanse
From Mean Girls
Were she a few years older, Rachel McAdams' Regina George might be friends with Emily from The Devil Wears Prada. Both have similarly terrible ideas about crash diets.
Regina George: It's called the South Beach Fat Flush and all you drink is cranberry juice for 72 hours.
Aaron Samuels: Lemme see that… this isn't even cranberry juice, it's cranberry juice cocktail. It's all sugar.
Regina George: I wanna lose three pounds.
If you want to cleanse, sugar drinks won't do it. "If you want to spend a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of effort, I can recommend a whole bunch of different weight loss plans," says Kelly Choi, author of The 7-Day Flat Belly Tea Cleanse. But if you want to strip away belly fat quickly, cheaply, and easily, I only know one: Tea.
I first discovered the weight-loss powers of tea when my mother, suffering from a terrible battle with diabetes, asked me to help design a tea cleanse for her. As a former nurse in Korea, she already knew the power of this lifesaving drink. Sure enough, with the plan she and I designed together, she dropped an amazing 9 pounds in just a week, and brought her blood sugar under control." You can preview The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse here!
Don't Stretch Your Stomach
From The Great Outdoors
Overeating at restaurants is almost a sport for some, but you don't have to eat a lot of food just because it's there. Case in point: Chet (John Candy) tries to tackle the Old 96er with hilarious results. The 96-ounce prime aged-beef steak, inspired by Paul Bunyan's blue ox, was more than even Chet could handle—his heart was probably begging for a break.
Don't Assume "Fresh" Is Best
From The Jerk
"Bring us some fresh wine," Steve Martin's character tells the waiter. "The freshest you've got—this year! No more of this old stuff!"
The newly-rich Navin Johnson should've learned a bit about wine before sending back the bottle of 1966 Chateau Latour in The Jerk. It's an old school comedy, but still provides a good lesson: Some things aren't better when they're "fresh." In fact, freezing your bread turns it into a resistant starch and frozen fruit is considered more nutrient-packed than fresh fruit since it's frozen at its peak season and the ice crystals can help penetrate the skin (like on blueberries), making some nutrients more easily absorbed by your body.
Don't Drink Butter
From Julie & Julia
Listening to Amy Adam's character describe cooking makes us hungry. "I cooked artichokes with hollandaise sauce which is melted butter that's been whipped into a frenzy with egg yolks until it's died and gone to heaven," she says, "and let me say this: is there anything better than butter? Think it over: Every time you taste something that's delicious beyond imagining and you say, 'What is in this?', the answer is always going to be, Butter. The day there's a meteorite heading toward the earth and we have thirty days to live, I am going to spend it eating butter. Here are my final words on the subject, you can never have too much, butter."
While we agree from a culinary perspective, "butter is, and will always be, a saturated fat which at this point has proven to be more of a con than a pro for overall health and weight management" according to Lisa Moskovitz, RD CDN.
Don't Cut the Protein
From When Harry Met Sally
As my friend said, before she fakes her orgasm, Sally takes ¾ of the meat off her sandwich, losing all that valuable protein, and left with mainly carbs. She'd be better off to ditch a piece of the bread. (And she might want to read this essential list of 7 Best Foods for Your Orgasm.)