People have asked me “What did you do to lose weight?”. Many people seem to be expecting some big, secret answer that magically took my weight off. They seem disappointed with my answer: eat better and exercise. I thought I would give a little more detail when it comes to what I eat.
What diet did you follow?
I didn’t follow a diet, per se. I’d heard of diets like Atkins, South Beach, Slim Fast, etc. I’d been on diets before. I’d tried Slim Fast in high school and just before my wedding. They worked, but the weight obviously came back. I decided I wasn’t going to go on a “diet”. I was going to make a lifestyle change.
What did you do when you first started?
When I made the conscious decision to start eating healthy, I had only two tools: my knowledge and a Biggest Loser Family Cookbook. My knowledge came from things I heard constantly: eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and dairy. Don’t eat a lot of sugar. Watch your calories. So,I started counting calories using My Fitness Pal, and I looked for ways to eat better.. I searched online to expand my knowledge so that my family and I would have healthy eating become a way of life.
I made simple switches. I switched white bread with wheat. I switched my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for salads at lunch. When I did have a PB&J, I switched what I thought was a “tablespoon” of peanut butter with an actual tablespoon. I switched my milk to skim. I switched sugary, chocolate cold cereal with cereals made from grains (like Frosted Shredded Wheat and Raisin Bran) or oatmeal. We switched “fruit snacks” for real fruit snacks (meaning we had apples and oranges for a snack). These simple switches have made all the difference when it comes to my family eating better.
What about money?
Money is a factor with many things. We try to eat the best we can with what money we have. For example, I many times can’t afford fat-free or low-fat cheddar cheese. So, I choose the cheese in my budget that has the least amount of fat.
When Josh and I decided to start eating healthier as a family, we realized that a lot of healthy food costs more. For example, extra lean ground beef can sometimes be $1 per pound more than another type of beef. However, we decided we could either pay a little more now on the food, or a lot later with medical bills.
What does my family eat?
We eat whole grains. Whole wheat, brown rice, and even quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”, not “kwi-no-uh”). I’ve also started incorporating other things made from whole grains, such as pasta, bread, and desserts into our diet.
We drink milk. Milk is a major staple in our house. I’ve switched to skim, but Josh and the kids still use 1% or 2%. I try to use my milk when cooking or baking.
We eat fruits and vegetables. I look for the best deals at our grocery store, and get what fresh produce we can afford. This usually leaves us with some bananas, red delicious apples, and berries when we are lucky. We buy tons of salad mix for my daily lunch. We’ve made meals out of zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, and/or tomatoes. We buy almost a bag of spinach weekly to be used in smoothies or other meals.
We eat beans. I love to throw kidney beans into a taco salad, or make desserts out of garbanzo beans and black beans .
We eat meat. Chicken breasts, lean ground beef and turkey, fish such as salmon and tilapia, and turkey bacon. We don’t eat meat every day (and sometimes not every week), but we do eat meat.
We eat sweets. We still go trick-or-treating, have cake on birthdays, eat popsicles on hot days, etc. The sweets are just given occasionally, or I look for healthy desserts on Chocolate Covered Katie.
What recommendations do you have for me?
If you are looking to lose weight, or just be healthier, don’t go on a “diet”. A diet is something temporary. Instead, make a lifestyle change that you can stick with. Recognize things you know are not good for your body, and stop buying them. Replace them with things that are good. I didn’t go from loving Honey Comb cereal in the morning to craving oatmeal with apples and cinnamon. It was a slow process that took time with little, simple switches.
Also, be patient with yourself. There are still times I indulge a little too much, especially around holiday weekends. But I can’t throw in the towel! I just need to resolve to do better the next meal.
Realize that changing your lifestyle will be something you accomplish over your lifetime, not overnight.