For the past few weeks I have been changing my eating habits to try to lose some weight. So far it’s working pretty good. But as a result, I haven’t made a whole lot of new things that could be used for a Recipe Friday post. As I thought about what to post, I decided that I would share the two big things that I changed that I believe have helped me most in my weight loss efforts.
First, I’ve begun writing down everything I eat and how many calories there are in each item. My goal is approximately 1400 calories per day. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but if you choose the right foods you can actually feel pretty full and satisfied on 1400 calories per day. And that is where writing it down helps. You start to get an idea of what things fill you up with fewer calories, and what things don’t make you feel full at all but have a ton of calories. For example, vegetables are very filling but don’t have high calorie counts. Salad dressings, butter, and other sauces, on the other hand, are not filling at all but can be very high in calories.
The other benefit of writing things down is I have to really think about whether I want to eat something, knowing it will be recorded in my food journal. It makes me more mindful of what I eat and helps with combatting my habit of eating when I am stressed or bored, and then not even really remembering that I ate something. If I have to write down each cookie and its calories, I am less likely to eat one at mid-morning, another in the afternoon, and a third and fourth after dinner, each time saying to myself, “It’s just one little cookie.”
Second, I’ve begun eating fewer breads and other starches and more fresh vegetables. My typical lunch consists of a 3 ounce piece of chicken, steak, or pork chop (depending on what we have leftovers of), or a half sandwich without cheese and light Miracle Whip, together with a big pile of vegetables with no dressing. I find that there are quite a few fresh vegetables that I like raw without dressing, as long as there is no lettuce along with them. As soon as you add lettuce and make it a salad, I feel like it needs dressing. But I can happily eat a whole red pepper (25 calories), a half a cucumber (20 calories), and a cup of jicama (46 calories) without a drop of dressing and be totally stuffed.
So you might be wondering how I know the calorie counts for the food I eat. Well, I use a web site called NutritionData for most of my calorie information, but I also consult restaurant web sites for their calorie information before I dine out. The cool thing about NutritionData is that if you register for a free account you can enter your own recipes and it will calculate the nutrition information for you. It also tells you more than just calories. Go here to see the complete nutritional information for jicama. I particularly like the chart showing the overall nutrition and fullness factor of each food.
My biggest challenge in losing weight, though, is dinner. If it was just me, it would be easier, but I have my husband and son to think about, too. But even there it is just a matter of being mindful of what I eat, cooking more vegetables so that the largest portion on my plate is vegetables and not potatoes or pasta.
As I embarked on this plan to change my eating habits (being resolved that this is not just a diet, but a new way to eat for life), I keep thinking of a story in Daniel.
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. Daniel 1:8-16 (NIV).
This story is a good reminder that eating more vegetables and fewer starches and rich dressings will not only help me lose weight, but will also help me to feel better over all. I will be healthier and better nourished by fresh vegetables and fruits than by eating lots of cookies and rich foods. And I don’t have to feel like I am starved in the process because the foods I am eating are wonderfully filling and satisfying.