January 7, 2016

What I eat now

The year when I lost my weight, I kept a very rigid schedule:
Get to work by 8. Drink water. Eat a Yoplait Light yogurt (90-100 cal). Teach. Teach. Drink more water. Eat a Lean Cuisine for lunch (240-330 cal). Teach. Drink more water. Eat a snack - usually a single-serve pack of Teddy Grahams (130 cal) and a single-serve container of peanut butter (250 cal). Leave the office by 4:30. Go to the gym and exercise. Go home. Make/eat dinner. Drink more water. Blog. Sleep.
On weekends, I stayed active - Saturday was generally my rest day, but I'd walk 1 mile to the grocery store (and walk home 1 mile carrying a week's worth of groceries) so there was still movement. I'd still have the light yogurts for breakfast on weekends but I'd make something for lunch, similar to my dinners - meat, veggies, maybe rice or pasta.

Except for the very beginning, I didn't obsessively count calories - once I knew generally how many calories I was eating during the day, I knew that as long as dinner was reasonable, I didn't have to weigh or measure ingredients, didn't have to nitpick the exact calories.

That may be one reason why I always struggle with MyFitnessPal and other trackers. They make me fixate and obsess in an unhealthy way. If my goal is 1500 calories and I log 1501, MFP shows it as red, as if going one calorie over is going to upset the entire thing.

Right now, I'm keeping track of my days on a big poster board calendar I made and attached to the fridge, where I keep track of each of my January goals with a star of a different color. I keep track of calories during the day, but don't obsess about dinner. I try to keep my counted calories around 900-950 (a bit more than when I first lost the weight), then estimate 300-500 calories for dinner. Whatever, I eat to my hunger, but not to over-fullness. 

I am trying to stay as close to my original food plan as possible - but with a few modifications, to reflect what I've learned about my body and about nutrition since starting.

Breakfast is yogurt, but instead of the light Yoplaits with the artificial sweeteners, I have store-brand Greek yogurt. It's 120-130 calories, and 13g of protein. Papaya passion fruit is the favorite in our house, though I also really like cherry pomegranate. 

Then for lunch, a Lean Cuisine. They've seriously come a long way in 5-6 years - some of the varieties available now are crazy good. I try to be mindful of the labels, but at the same time, I am not too worried about the sodium levels. First of all, because there's very low sodium in everything else I eat (and none in what I cook for myself for dinner), so it's balanced out that way. And second, because I'm never considering how much sodium is in a pizza before I binge on the entire thing. It's not perfect, but it is what works for me right now. I like having the individual portions - and not having to prep/cook lunches is nice, too.

Dinner is as it always was: something pretty big to hold me over in the evening since I know that's my worst time for snacking/overeating. I don't count the calories too precisely (I'm not weighing or measuring lean protein or veggies). Some dinners I've had recently:
  • chicken breast with Spanish rice and green beans
  • homemade broccoli potato soup
  • homemade curry cauliflower pumpkin soup
  • tuna sandwich on Flat-Out wrap with coleslaw
The soups are very easy to make, especially since I have an immersion blender. For the broccoli potato, I simply roasted some fingerling potatoes, steamed broccoli, threw it all in a pot with half water and half low sodium chicken broth, added some spices, and blended it up. The starch in the potatoes made it very thick and creamy, and since the potatoes weren't fried or topped with butter/sour cream, they actually aren't too bad calorie wise. 500 calories of potatoes, 100 calories of broccoli, plus broth made four servings of soup at about 160 calories each.

During the day, I have a variety of snacks. Instead of having just one snack in the afternoon, I've been spreading them out during the day. In the morning, I have a high protein snack - lately, it's been a ThinkThin bar.

I discovered these when I was pregnant and couldn't stomach the look/smell of meat (raw or cooked, didn't matter). They're not bad, way better than Quest bars, in my opinion - not as artificially sweet.

In the afternoon, I have another snack - so far, I've been digging sugar free jello (I make it in individually portioned containers) ...

... and these veggie straws ...

... which, again, are cheaper to buy in a large bag and portion out myself, but right now, I am struggling with portions, so this is what works. Something about having them pre-portioned keeps me in control with them. 

I've also been having an after-dinner snack, which also helps keep me focused. If I get hungry after dinner, I know I have allotted for another small snack - and lately, my go-to has been Chobani flips.

They have some great flavors - my all-time favorite is the almond coconut chocolate one, but they just came out with a ton of new ones, and PB&J is seriously good - it tastes EXACTLY like it should. They also have a few spicy ones - chipotle pineapple and sriracha mango, which I haven't tried yet, but am super excited to. In Chicago, I lived in a Mexican neighborhood and loved the spice mix they sold in the grocery store to sprinkle on fruit. It's a delicious combination.

Again, right now, it's pretty regimented, and it might not work for everyone, but it's what I'm able to stick to without feeling bored, deprived, or triggered.

What about you? Do you tend to eat the same things, or are your meals more diverse? Do you meal plan before grocery shopping?


Denise said...

I think having meals that are the same is great. It takes guesswork out of calories consumed, it's easier to buy, there's not a whole lot of decision making. It kind of gives your brain a rest from having to decide what to eat.

I meal plan before I shop, and most of my meals tend to be the same. Most recipes I use are for four people, so I have leftovers for lunch for two days.

Do you have a crock pot? I crock potted a chicken for dinner, ate some that night, and then the rest I threw in a tupperware with some mayo and spices for chicken salad for lunch, but you could use the leftover chicken in a stir fry, tacos, soup. The thing I hate the most is thinking of a protein and then having to cook it, so I always get a little thrill when I can come home and only need to roast veggies or whatever.

Amy said...

Great plan - I need to meal plan more with my Whole 30 - and I also work really well under super repetitive eating.

Taryn said...

I was just talking about this with my husband. I eat the same 15 or so things on repeat with a few different things sprinkled in here and there. I'm all for whatever works! Yes a lean cuisine may not be the healthiest, but is being overweight? Nope! So getting th weight off is the most important thing right now. You are doing great!

Wii Fit & A Bet said...

I use an app to "count" calories, but I use it more to monitor what I eat in the morning. I rarely log dinner. I tend to be "exacting" anyway and this exasperates it :). Yesterday was not so good, my car is having issues, son is sick, work is stressful (teaching second graders is not a walk in the park some days) and I had a cupcake and then chips and then something else. I really tried to acknowledge the stress eating for what it was and make sure that my dinner could balance out my stress binge. I'm a work in progress, one day at a time. Just like AA :)

Amanda said...

Looks like you're doing great! Just this week I went to some frozen meals to help me keep my portions in check as well. Amy's Bowl meals are great and tasty!

Just out of curiosity - how does Noah do at dinner time? I find that it's hard to make a healthy dinner that Reagan will eat too. So I usually end up making one thing for John and myself (or just me when he's out of town for work), and then something else for her. It's probably my own fault since that's basically how I did it when I was first losing weight (smoothie for me, a pre-packed toddler meal for her), but I was curious how or if you're getting Noah to eat what you do.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

The almond coco loco is the favorite flip in our house too! I have never heard of the spicy varieties! I would love them. I eat a lot of the same things because I love the taste and I know they satisfy me. Scrambled eggs and a lite english muffin are a go to for breakfast of lunch and I eat a lot of protein bars. Right now Atkins pb and pb pretzel are in my cabinet since they were on sale at Walgreen's!

Jill Walker said...

I eat five meals a day, and do best when the first four are always the same every day. The fifth is my dinner, and it's the only one that's flexible. Depending on whether it's a run day or not, I'll either eat very light or have something a little more substantial. Eating regimented meals doesn't work for many, but it sure works for me!

Debby said...

I thought of your post today when I went grocery shopping and got some of the flips for breakfast. We don't have quite the variety you do, but I did notice they added some more since I last bought some!

Sara said...

The biggest thing is to just find what works for you, and if not being super strict with tracking calories works then don't change anything :) I'm in maintenance now and I don't track calories at all, but I have other checks n' balances in place to keep me focused and within my maintenance range. If the need arises I'll start counting again, but right now what I'm doing is working, so no reason to change things :)

Unknown said...

Love this. THANK you for sharing.