Many nutritionists and dieticians recommend eating several small meals throughout the course of the day. It helps to keep your metabolism running and also keeps your body from going into starvation mode which totally defeats any plan (losing weight or weight maintenance).
I’ve decided that my new LIFESTYLE (not a diet!!) needs to include a meal plan that I can stick with and one that will show me results. Over the past 6 months I have been eating 400 calories or less for each meal (3 main meals and a snack) and seeing great results. I am losing weight and I just plain feel better. I know that in order to maintain a healthy weight, I need to stick with this plan. So I have created recipes and meal plans that ensure I am not feeling hungry all the time and truthfully, I rarely feel deprived (except for when I see people eating multiple slices of pizza when I can only have one – ah, pizza !!) . This plan combats cravings of all sorts because I can eat a little bit of just about anything.
Now, I could sit and eat 400 calories worth of cheese doodles as a meal (my dear friend told me this actually worked for her at one point in her life), but the better thing to do is make sure you are eating balanced meals.
I make sure that my day includes proteins (meat, fish, beans), veggies and fruit, high calcium dairy and I could not live without carbs. I now eat whole grain breads and pastas, but they are still in my meals in smaller amounts – I could not live without them.
I also add in monounsaturated fats (these are the good fats) with several of my meals each day…the theory being that they a: help bad fats retreat from your body and b: they help you feel more satisfied. Examples of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, olives, avocados, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate – – and while high in calories, I do notice that when I skip them to add in extra pasta or bread instead, I don’t see as good weight loss results that week.
And finally, here are a few things that I have learned along the way:
Drink lotsa water: I am not good at this – I have to struggle to get down 3 glasses of water a day. I try and entice myself by adding stuff to a pitcher of water and giving it a bit of natural flavor. One day I add lemon or lime slices (orange is nice too). The next I add some sliced fresh ginger. The next I add some spearmint leaves and a few drops of mint extract. If I keep it changed up, I find I am more apt to want a glass.
Sit and savor your food: Taste each bit that goes into your mouth. Smell it. Look at it. Don’t just woof it down in front of a TV because before you know it, it’s gone and you’re wondering where it went and you are still feeling hungry. I know it sounds corny, but it is sooooooo true !
Split up the snacks in a different way each day and according to how your body feels: I always try to eat my 3 main meals the same times each day. But my snacks….times change and so does how I split them up. One day I may be hungrier in the mid afternoon and have a 200 calorie snack before I start cooking dinner (so I am not picking while cooking) and then have my other 200 calories in the evening. Some days I have a lighter dinner and then want a heavier snack in the evening. Some days I am dying of hunger at 10 am even though I ate a good breakfast at 8. Be flexible with yourself and divvy up those snacks thoughtfully and they will help you get through the day !
Cheat day: Everybody needs a cheat day. I plan one in once a week. I have gone hog crazy and eaten wings and several slices of pizza on the same day – and then I end up paying for it. After months of a healthy diet, my body does not know what to do when bombarded with a lot of fat and I end up with stomach distress. So I have learned and now I try and keep it a little more sane. Instead of going crazy, I use my cheat day to have a glass of wine (or 2 or 3) without having to put it into my calorie counter. And since I often go out on cheat day, it is more just a day to give myself a break from cooking, but I try to order sensibly and not stuff myself.
Eating out: It is very hard to find a place out where you can get a meal that fits into 400 calories. Asian restaurants are a good bet, especially if you stick with fish dishes and stay away from fried egg rolls. You can find calories counts for many chain restaurants and it’s very discouraging. If you’re a restaurateur and want a partner for a ‘healthy food’ restaurant, let me know !! 🙂
Count your calories: I use a mobile phone app. A plain old notebook and pencil will do just as well, though ! When you are actively counting your calories, you are much more apt to stay within them. Yes, even that one bite off your kid’s plate has to be accounted for in the log 🙂