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JDMAKEIT2HOT Posts: 8,458
11/18/12 6:24 P

I use to eat those for the first part of my weightloss. Then I tried teaching myself how to cook. I still suck at cooking so I keep it simple.

Boil a sweet potato, add some milk and butter.

have a veggie and a peice of fruit for lunch

chicken sandwich

a salad of whatever I have thats healthy.

a smoothie. milk and fruit.

MEG-NATALIA07 Posts: 679
11/17/12 3:01 P

Nice work on your weightloss! Shoot I certainly understand the convenience factorand knowing what a foods calorie weight is... my suggestion would be to trade in some nuts, veggies, and fruits for parts of your meals, or use as snacks. They are all real, and don't take much prep. Start with that, and have fun.

ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
11/17/12 1:05 P

I love anything prepared for me that lists calories, protein, fat, etc. This is where convenience foods are awesome. This is what makes dieting SO much easier.

But I get the point about wanting to have things that aren't prepared for you. Maybe it 'feels' more natural and fresh, but whatever you buy in the store is not fresh off the farm (depends on where you live and time of year and the product) so it's easy to lose perspective about that. What you buy that is frozen is pretty darned good, as long as you watch the sodium - which contributes to taste and is measured for you in the frozen meal. Do you measure every bit of sodium in your fresh food, as you cook it, as you eat it, and what's contained in the natural state of the food? Most people don't. At least food manufacturers do. I don't remember seeing anyone in my family or friends (or myself) using a teaspoon to measure out a fraction of that to season a meal at the table. Everyone uses a salt shaker.

That said, you can get down to fresh stuff and know what you're eating by taking the time to measure all that stuff (salt included) and have your 'go-to' meals. You know the food, you know the portion size, you know the preparation, you know all you need to know. Do that a few times for some 'go-to' meals and then use those meals instead of Lean Cuisines. You'll have fresh and you'll have reliable measurements. You don't have to choose one or the other. You can have both, it's just more work.

WHITLA011 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (2,857)
Posts: 63
11/17/12 1:03 P

I agree with the other posters, but I don't want to sound like a broken record haha.

There are a lot of quick and easy meals that you can throw together. Crockpot recipes are a great idea. If you like breakfast for dinner, scrambled eggs & omelettes are quick and easy. You could go to the deli and get some thick-cut chicken or turkey (low or no-salt if you can) and then add it to a salad. Broccoli slaw is GREAT because it's low in calories, super filling and already ready to go.

In fact, broccoli slaw is a great way to add veggies to a precooked meal. It also makes the meal a lot more filling.

READY2BFIT261 SparkPoints: (182)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 14
11/17/12 11:10 A

Do you feel hungry after the frozen dinners? I always did which led to snacks. My husband and I started a challenge in November to not go to the grocery store or eat out. Mostly to save money. Previously we would eat out 3-4 times a week and the other nights quick stuff at our house. I am not big cook, but it is something my mom always did and I thought it was something I should learn. So I planned out meals for the entire month and we went to the grocery store on Halloween to get all of the food. Naturally, I couldn't buy a month's worth of frozen dinners for my lunch, so I was planning to bring my leftovers.

Well, we have been successful so far. I only made a small trip to the grocery store for around 50 dollars. I have cooked 7 meals (several soups the lasted several days) and some crock pot dinners. I started trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, like apples and bananas. Easy to pack and take to lunch. If I don't have lunch I will make a PB and J sandwich. And I am finding that I am starting to to feel full!! I eat less snacks during the day. And I have lost 3lbs just this week!

So my recommendation is to buy some simple whole things for your lunch. Also, invest in a crockpot. Most of the recipes are very easy to throw together.,

Good luck on your journey.

Fitness Minutes: (20,400)
Posts: 2,704
11/17/12 11:00 A

You can train yourself to kick the picky eating habits. I found it took many months of eating fennel and red cabbage and buckwheat and m√Ęche and polenta and kale and not allowing myself to eat other foods, but eventually my palate changed. It's not fun, and you'll gag at first, but you WILL get over it.

In terms of convenience, I have pretty much the most convenient diet of anyone I know. On the weekend I spent three to five hours prepping and cooking meals and snacks for the upcoming week, and then I don't cook AT ALL during the week. Last weekend I made a batch of baked cranberry pumpkin spice oatmeal for breakfast, cooked up some quinoa and a curry of chickpeas and spinach for lunch, and made a pot of roasted vegetable soup along with some gluten-free dumplings for dinners. I had one extra serving each of the curry and soup, which I popped into my freezer beside other things I've cooked (I could grab a serving of lentil soup or a slice of fritatta from the freezer if I wanted to mix things up during the week).

SLASALLE SparkPoints: (264,893)
Fitness Minutes: (100,621)
Posts: 11,568
11/17/12 10:56 A

Check out the SparkPeople videos also. Chef Meg has some awesome videos on simple cooking techniques, as well as how to make certain easy dishes. One of my favorites is Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken ... VERY easy, makes a good amount, freezes well ...

And baby steps is totally right ... make a few small changes at a time, then just keep on rolling ...

Best to you!

11/17/12 10:03 A

As the others have already said...
You may want to start making some of your own meals and freezing them.
But, this is going to take training and time. Look for recipes and cookbooks on the topic of batch cooking, freezer cooking, bulk cooking.

So while you are adding this new technique---you may want to improve on what you are already doing. This can be done by adding fruits and veggies to your frozen meal selections, etc.

And if you are wanting more information on which "purchased" food products are the best, you may want to get this dieting book---that uses the approach you are doing with the healthiest options available. It is called:
The Simple Diet by James Anderson MD and Nancy Gustafson RD

Hope this helps
SP Dietitian Becky

ONLINEASLLOU SparkPoints: (73,365)
Fitness Minutes: (57,011)
Posts: 4,787
11/17/12 10:02 A

I would suggest "baby steps." Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps.

Some people just aren't cooks -- and if you are someone who doesn't like to cook, it may be a mistake to suddenly try to become one overnight. If like me, you are single, it can be difficult and impractical to have all the ingredients on hand to make the types of meals you will find in the meal plans here and elsewhere.

So I suggest you just try to make a few small changes to begin with. See how that goes, and then try one or two other things. For example, my grocery store sells pre-made salads -- complete with a little meat, greens, cheese, etc. and a small cup of dressing. They range from 210 to 350 calories. I figure they are healthier than a frozen, heavily processed meal and I often have one of those for lunch. I hard boil some eggs to take for breakfast ... combine with a piece of fruit ... or have some Greek yogurt ... etc. for breakfast. That type of breakfast is just as fast and easy as a frozen meal, but less processed and healthier.

For dinner, I often combine something pre-made (like a crab cake ... or some chicken) with some frozen vegetable (like broccoli or green beans).

My point is not to try to do "major cooking" if that is not your lifestyle. Aim for "half and half" at first by just trying a few things. See how that goes and then go from there. You might find that you really like the fresher food and learn to enjoy cooking and want to do more. But maybe not -- and you will find a "half and half" eating style that works well for you.

Edited by: ONLINEASLLOU at: 11/17/2012 (10:31)
11/16/12 8:37 P

I also agree with Nererin about making your own. This is what I do and I portion it out for the rest of the week. It helps that I'm also cooking for my 11 month old and since she needs real food, well, I might as well double it and make some for me too.

JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
Fitness Minutes: (86,286)
Posts: 2,489
11/16/12 7:54 P

Congrats so far on your success!

Ack, going to sound like a broken record here but high sodium intake does pose a bit of a problem in just how successful you *could* potentionally be.

I'm usually pretty good at keeping my sodium levels within my rec. range but 2 weeks ago I was pretty high above that range for the entire week. I actually gained 2 lbs when I've been experiencing nothing by steady weight loss for the last 4 months! So I cut back my sodium for the last week and almost right off the bat I lost those 2 lbs and another 1lbs 2 days later and another 1 lbs today. It was crazy! Because ever since I hit 135 lbs I've slowed down to 1 lbs/week but I went down 4 lbs this week from 127 lbs to 123 lbs. Obviously most was water bloat, I doubt it was all fat loss but I feel thinner and less bloated-feeling.

So it certainly does make a difference to cut back on the sodium found in conveinence foods, at least in my experience.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 11/16/2012 (19:58)
COTTERR SparkPoints: (11,658)
Fitness Minutes: (7,487)
Posts: 112
11/16/12 6:04 P

I agree with NIRERIN. I used to eat Lean Pockets because they were fairly healthy, cheap, and easy. However, I realized they weren't 'real' food after reading the ingredients. So I started making my own using flat out wraps, or ww tortillas, real meat, cheese and sauce. I'd then freeze them 4 to a gallon bag. One day I just took 5 lbs of ground beef, a few lbs of chicken, and beans and made about 30 burritos with sauces, cheese, and veggies.

As for breakfast, not sure what kind of frozen meals you are eating, but if they are sandwiches they are super easy to make and I can guarntee it will be cheaper if you make your own. I keep eggs, cheese singles, and lunch meat on hand at all times and keep either bread, english muffins, or bagels stocked in the freezer. It's a little more difficult than warming it up in the microwave, but it really doesn't take long once you get the hang of it and it's nice to know what you are actually eating.

HEZZYLUNA Posts: 129
11/16/12 5:12 P


used to do the same exact thing, it was so much easier to have one of Jimmy Dean D-Lights sandwiches for breakfast, a Healthy Choice for lunch, and so on and so forth. But what the previous poster said about the sodium is a valid point for sure. Those things have really high sodium and if that's pretty much all you're eating, I don't think that's very healthy. When you track it, do you include things like sodium and carbs and stuff, and make sure you stay within range on those as well? If not, I suggest you start doing that. There's so much more to health than calories alone.

Also, the problem I ran into with eating mostly those frozen processed foods, is I found I felt like I was breaking all the rules if I ate *anything* else. And doing something spontaneous like going to lunch with the office or something was a virtual impossibility. Basically what I'm saying is those "healthful" frozen foods aren't even 0.0000000000001% of all the delicious and healthy foods out there in the world, so you're really making your world very small if that's all allow yourself to eat. Even at your favorite restaurant, you can find something that will fit your needs. One of my favs is Longhorn Steakhouse. I can get the filet, and even be able to have a couple bites of the appetizers my friends or family ordered.

If you're just trying to diet and lose weight for some sort of special event in the future, and then have every intention of just going back to your old weight afterwards, there's nothing wrong with being so strict about only eating frozen processed foods. But if we're talking about losing the weight and keeping it off for essentially the rest of your life, then you need to be making lifestyle changes to help correct bad eating/exercise habits, and help ensure you stay healthy for a very long time, even after you reach your weight loss goal.

Like I said, there are so many delicious, healthy foods out there. Picture this, wood fired sea scallops and 3 oz. filet, brocolli with grated parmesian cheese, and a side of brown rice. Sounds delicious, right? Under 400 calories. Or how about this: a BLT using wheat bread instead of white, turkey bacon instead of regular bacon (although really, you could use real bacon because this is so low calorie), tomatoes of course, and smash up some avocado to spread instead of mayo (I love avocado so much more than mayo anyways! And that's the GOOD kind of fat!). Now THAT is a good sandwich, and quick! Try making all your lunches ahead of time; or make a little bit too much for dinner and immediately box up half of it to save for lunch the next day. Or depending on your schedule, you could make one big meal in the crockpot Monday while you're at work, then you'll have dinner that night and probably lunch the next couple days (you get the idea).

You just have to *learn* (key word is learn, which means you may falter a few times, it may take some time) to think of food as more than just calories. After all, your body needs food for fuel just like your car does. (I could be wrong about this next part because I don't know cars but) if you've got a big ole diesel truck but you only fill it with regular gas- it'll run, sure, but it won't be a healthy truck!

Anyways, sorry if I busted your bubble, I wish you all the success in the world!

NIRERIN Posts: 14,234
11/16/12 5:06 P

have you tried making your favorite healthy choice meals at home? in other words, if you like the teriyaki chicken, make sure you have rice or orzo on hand along with frozen veggies and perhaps some cooked chicken that you keep frozen and teriyaki sauce. so all you'd need to do to make that meal is start the water, add the orzo and cook until almost done. then add in the cooked chicken and frozen veggies, and once everything is heated through the teriyaki sauce.
you could also make a goal that the next few weekends, you do some batch cooking of foods that freeze well. you might make a large batch of chili/lasagna/stew that you eat a little of for dinner, then portion out the rest to be frozen so that you're making your own frozen dinners.

SLASALLE SparkPoints: (264,893)
Fitness Minutes: (100,621)
Posts: 11,568
11/16/12 4:52 P

I agree that if it's working for you in weight loss, the benefits you're already getting are huge. With that said, there are other things besides the sodium content of packaged foods that cause me concern. The big one right off the top of my head is NO fresh fruits or veggies, meaning potential nutritional deficits. If you can't do fresh, then frozen is the next best thing, but I doubt you're getting 5-9 fruits and veggies in with mostly packaged meals.

Then I think about all of the preservatives, saturated fats and potentially trans fats (though they have improved) used in making the frozen meals.

For me, and you might not feel the same, as I've gotten more and more into a healthy lifestyle, I've moved to more basic eating ... lots of salads with raw veggies, lots of fresh fruit and plenty of cooked veggies too - of course, along with plenty of low fat proteins.

I've also moved toward what I have phrased "the art of eating naked." No, not what it sounds like!!! :-) I'm referring to whole foods without sauces and other enhancements. I've enjoyed learning the REAL taste of a fruit or veggie and how good it is and that it doesn't have to be loaded with butter, cheese sauce or any of the other sauces they often put into the frozen meals.

As you get closer to your goal, your weight loss will slow down. That, combined with a natural progression toward even more healthy changes, will likely lead you to make some additional changes to your lifestyle.

Best to you on your journey.

STEPHEN_NANNY SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (16,232)
Posts: 385
11/16/12 4:30 P

Overall, if it is working for you and you are losing weight but still have energy, then it can't be that bad, oui? The main problem with those frozen meals is the sodium levels. At some point, to really get healthy, you'll have to tackle the excess sodium, and managing restaurant food is so much easier to do when you aren't used to so much salt in your meal.

11/16/12 4:11 P

I have been rocking along on my diet for the last 3.5 months. I've lost almost 30 pounds, and I couldn't be more delighted with the pace (little under 2lbs/week) and the results of my fairly intense exercise program. However, yesterday I reached the end of the day and realized I had eaten zero raw, unprocessed food. I had frozen Healthy Choice type meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes I will grab a protein shake or bar as a snack, but this is actually a fairly typical situation to find myself in.

I don't dislike what I am eating, so I'm not complaining that I'm bored or feeling like I'm going to cheat. Clearly whatever I am doing is working from a weight loss perspective. But it can't be good to eat this much processed food. I think laziness is a factor - it's so easy to both prepare and accurately track the pre-packaged food. I'm also a very picky eater, so choosing things that I like is always tough (I have a set of 4 or 5 frozen meals that I really like, so I just eat those).

Any advice? Is it the end of the world if I keep on with my convenience "diet"?

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