I’ve been unsuccessful following other people’s diets. I get frustrated following point systems and I just don’t want to eat the kinds and amounts of food they suggest. I can’t determine the calorie count in most foods much less accurately estimate what makes up a portion. So I’ve been working on creating a plan that works for me, taking into consideration both my meal preferences and my exercise regimen. If I can’t be accurate, that’s no excuse for losing control altogether. This exercise is my way of being focused and intentional.
I created two lists that serve as my guide to eating healthy and controlling my calorie intake. The first list helps me make food choices. The second list helps me estimate the amount of food I should eat depending on my activity level.
A. Foods I never eat:
heavy animal fats (beef, pork, lamb, veal, pastrami, salami, ham, hot dogs and hamburgers, ice cream), dense starches (croissants, buns, coffee cakes, cereal), super sugars (sweet rolls, donuts, sugary soft drinks and juices
B. Foods I rarely eat:
chicken, turkey, duck, frozen yogurt, chocolate, popcorn, packaged foods of any kind
C. Foods I eat only once a week as an indulgence:
pasta, bread, potatoes, rice
D. Foods I eat regularly:
Mediterranean diet, vegetable oils, olives, avocados, nuts, fish, vegetables, yogurt, cheese, wine
So, I can choose to have the garlic bread at the Italian restaurant, or pasta (or pizza) at the pizza place, or sushi with rice, or a side of french fries once a week. Grains I include as healthy substitutes…whole wheat bread instead of white bread, sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, brown rice instead of white rice, whole wheat or spinach pasta, etc.
Limiting the amount of food I eat also requires a bit of creativity. I plan my days around an estimated 1500 -1800 calories and adjust those calories according to my workout schedule and my social calendar.
A. 500 + 1000 calories
I eat only two meals these days, the larger one being dinner. I save my calories for eating out.
B. 500 + 500 + 500 calories
I eat three meals, all about the same calorie count. This helps me to think about portion control and stop snacking.
C. 500 + 500 calories
To lose a few pounds, I exercise at least one hour in the morning or evening, and have an early lunch and an early dinner
Five hundred calorie meals normally consist of either
a. yogurt, fruit and granola
b. tuna, turkey or chicken salad or sandwich with lettuce, tomato and avocado
c. vegetable soup with cheese or croutons
One thousand calorie meals are based on a Mediterranean diet accompanied by a glass of wine.
This is not a diet, but my every day eating plan. I have to make choices and I have to estimate portion size and calories. I have to consider working out and eating out. It’s not a perfectly accurate accounting, but it’s a system I can manage every day. It guides my purchases at the grocery store or farmers’ market and my choices on a menu. It rewards me for working out and controlling my snacking. It keeps me focused.