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6/17/13 11:05 A

I'm writing this to address the fact that you are having trouble losing more weight, that you are eating processed food, and that you think cost is a big concern. I'm an advocate for eating less processed foods, and maybe the chemicals, hormones, msg, sodium, high sugar content, etc. of processed foods is prohibiting you from losing more weight.

I think that many people in America (and other developed nations) have some assumptions that come with our diet that we would be better off without. Some of these things are going to be hard, but something has to give.

Assumption 1. We should have variety in our diet. From a nutritional standpoint we should be sure that we aren't eating all protein or only one type of fruit but beyond that we don't need much variety. People dislike eating the same thing every day. They think that they have a "right" to eat a variety of foods, and make this a priority in our budgets and lifestyles. You don't need to eat different foods everyday. You can live more simply, cheaply, healthfully, and quickly if you decide variety isn't a priority.

Assumption 2. Every meal should be tasty. Now, I'm not saying that every meal should be unappetizing or disgusting, but not every meal needs to be enjoyable. You'll get over it. Many of your meals can be "okay". And that's fine. Don't assume that you NEED to enjoy your food. Yes, enjoying food is nice. I do believe that food is meant to be enjoyed and good food is important to feeling satisfied. But when you decide to consider the first purpose of food to be nutrition and the second purpose of food to be enjoyment, you can be satisfied when not every meal is enjoyable. Sometimes your food can be plain or cheap or boring, and that is okay. That's fine. If you accept that, you can be satisfied with less.

That said, we can look at the practical side of things. When I was very busy, I ate on a schedule. I was working as a teacher. I left my house at 7:30 every morning, and arrived home at 4:30 every afternoon. Monday-Thursday I had class from 6:00-9:00, and thankfully the school was close to my house. It was a busy time, and you know how much work a teacher can take home some weeks!

So this is how I dealt with it. I decided I would just make a meal plan and stick with it no matter what. no matter what. no matter what. I had the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and snacks everyday. For breakfast, I had oatmeal with a banana. For snacks, I packed a little baggie with a hardboiled egg, a cheese stick, carrots, and celery, and portioned out 100 calorie packs of pretzels. I ate these throughout the day anytime I could. For lunch, each Sunday I would make a meal in the crockpot, and save it in 5 portions. I made cheap, easy things that used up what I had in the house. Sometimes they were good, sometimes they weren't. Most of them were basically a vegetable stew type thing. For dinner, I would have some extra "lunch" meals saved that I would heat up, or I would eat a sandwich or pasta or really whatever I wanted to make that day. I usually cooked dinner. After class, I always, always had dessert. Even if I hated all the food that day, and didn't want to eat it, and it never tasted good, I trained myself to think "At the end of the day, I can eat something tasty". Sometimes it was sweet, sometimes it was savory, and it was always under 200 calories. I was satisfied with it because I told myself I didn't have the choice to eat more.

So. Maybe that's long, but that's what worked for me. I put myself on a schedule, and told myself I didn't have a choice. Financially, I spent MUCH less on food during that time.

My other advice would be instead of taking Saturday off, to track your food on Saturdays.

ALIUHOH86 SparkPoints: (172)
Fitness Minutes: (35)
Posts: 10
6/17/13 9:02 A

We buy the big 5 pound bag of Birds Eye frozen mixed veggies. It contains broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash and carrots. Depending on how much time we have (which usually isn't much at all), I either throw some in the microwave for a few minutes, steam it on the stove, or toss it with olive oil and spices to be roasted in the oven. They also make great filler in casseroles, pasta dishes and stirfry. It costs 5 cents an ounce... waaaaaaay cheaper than fresh veggies and way more convenient! Frozen chicken breast are great, because they are inexpensive, keep for a long time, and you can use as little or as much as you need at one time. If it's just you, you can easily pull out one chicken breast and cook it in a skillet or on a George Forman in less than 20 minutes.

Our big lifesaver is our crockpot. The possibilities of meals are endless and I never spend more than 10 minutes preparing whatever I'm cooking in it. I just toss the ingredients in either the night before or that morning, and breakfast/lunch/dinner is ready for us whenever we are ready to eat. And the best part is most things can be divided up between single serving freezer safe containers, frozen and easily unthawed in the microwave for a quick wholesome meal.

Edited by: ALIUHOH86 at: 6/17/2013 (09:04)
LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
6/17/13 8:30 A

Frozen fruits and vegetables can be your best friends. They don't go bad and take about 30 seconds to defrost in the microwave before adding to pasta sauce, casseroles or stirfrys (the veggies anyway, I don't defrost the fruit because I like it better frozen.)

SUNSHINE6442 Posts: 2,178
6/16/13 8:22 A

Look at the label and check the sodium, the sugar content and the carbs you are might be surprised

Smart One's may seem to have variety but the dinners are mostly pasta ..the Mac and Cheese dinner alone has 790mg of sodium, 5 sugars and a whopping 52 carbs.

Several days of fewer carb's and more protein can help push you off a plateau....skip all breads and pasta for a few days.... 3 ounces of protein at every meal stimulates the body to release fat burning hormones.... dehydration can also be the problem.

Here are a few easy ideas
The Hard boiled eggs are a good source of with imitation bacon bits for crunch
or make egg salad on thinly sliced rye toast

Low carb tortillas with low carb fillings

Sliced deli meats and cheese.....6 slices of Oscar Mayer Shaved turkey is 60 calories, 3 slices of deli roast beef is about 150 calories....make a wrap

Get some wooden skewers....make kabobs with chicken chunks, grape tomatoes, low fat cheese, green peppers...whatever you like

1/2 Avocado with stuffed crabmeat.... 4 ounces crabmeat with a tad of mayo on a bed of lettuce about 6 carbs

Stuff Celery sticks with chicken salad or tuna salad...

ERICADURR Posts: 243
6/15/13 5:02 P

What I'm about to say might seem a little harsh, but hear me out. I see a lot of excuses. Although you're eating 1500 calories per day, quality of the food really does matter, and nothing but processed junk is NOT the way to go. I'm assuming you don't work all days of the week, so on Saturdays and Sundays, you should be planning your meals and preparing them. I'm not saying to never eat processed foods, but if you're seriously eating them for every meal of the day, then no wonder you're not seeing progress. Planning and prep is important, and even though you're busy, how important is your health and diet?

As for prep: get frozen chicken breasts and cut them up and weigh them into bags. You can throw them into a pan and cook them with a few spices and have something to eat with minimal prep (you could also just cook all of this on Sunday). You can also do this with pork and beef--buy in bulk! Do the same thing with fruits and veggies--shop on Saturday and Sunday (once a week, bc you will get spoilage), then bag them up into individual servings. You can take them with you. I make a pot of brown rice that lasts me for about four days. Any meal you make, get your portion out and then FREEZE the rest into individual sized servings. Same as a frozen meal without all the preservatives, PLUS it makes things easier for you on super-hectic days when you're tired and would otherwise eat a TV dinner. Buy bags of frozen veggies and micro them or steam them. TV dinners are about 2 bucks a pop, and you can get a pound of apples for the same price, so it's all about priorities.

As for breakfasts, scrambled eggs can be made in advance then nuked. You could also take someone else's suggestion and do hard boiled eggs. could get up ten minutes earlier and MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. It's all about making time for yourself and your health. I wish you luck.

Edited by: ERICADURR at: 6/15/2013 (17:04)
MTULLY SparkPoints: (116,754)
Fitness Minutes: (88,798)
Posts: 3,064
6/15/13 4:47 P

I am trying to break out of that cycle as well. What I am trying now is eating more protein and less carbs. I am finding that helpful. When I was teaching, I found it challenging to find quick meals - as you said, there is not much down time when you teach! A half cup of Greek yogurt with a cup of raspberries (or fruit of choice) and a tablespoon of ground flaxseed was my go-to high protein choice for quick filling breakfast or late afternoon snack, and 1 oz of sliced cheese, 10-15 raw almonds, and an apple worked for a quick lunch. I hope these ideas help!

BITTERQUILL Posts: 1,639
6/15/13 4:24 P

First of all, I do hope you are in regular contact with your physician. I know you don't need me to say it, but heart surgery isn't something to mess around with. Second, if your diet is primarily packaged meals, what are your sodium levels like? If you don't already track it, I really recommend that you do. Just one or two packaged meals per day and there's a good chance you're already over your recommended maximum, which is really terrible for your heart.

Batch cooking is your friend. You can set aside one weekend afternoon and make homecooked meals for an entire week (or even the whole month), if you can streamline the process. Then portion everything out and freeze the whole lot so nothing goes to waste. Slowcookers are good, too, because you can cook a ton of food without having to babysit it, so you can multitask.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually just as nutritious as fresh unless they have added sugars or sauces. They are frequently cheaper, too, because they aren't seasonal. Canned products work in a pinch but they tend to be high in sodium.

As for eating while at work, you don't have to eat a fork-and-knife "meal" every two hours. A piece of fruit, a handful of nuts or a string cheese is all it takes. Your employer cannot deny you that, if your health is at risk otherwise, and you can always take the opportunity to turn it into a lesson on nutrition for the kids. Maybe it's not ideal, but sometimes that's how it works.

Good luck!

MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (11,923)
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
Posts: 3,691
6/15/13 2:21 P

some options, all cheap, easy, and prepare in advance (if any prep at all):

B: hardboiled eggs (prepare a batch on Sunday and grab 2 on the way out the door. Cheap, quick, no cooking.), banana, apple, orange,
L: green smoothie (make the night before and freeze), turkey jerky (goes on sale a lot), greek yogurt, string cheese
D: bagged salad, tuna, frozen veggies (watch for sales and buy generic), make and freeze a huge batch of veggie soup, frozen chicken breasts (microwave or foreman grill for speed)

Other options:
-talk to local farmers about meat. I prefer buying grass fed direct from farmer.
-join a CSA.
- talk to your boss; everyone deserves a break.
-ask your Church for assistance.

Edited by: MICHELLEXXXX at: 6/15/2013 (14:31)
6/15/13 1:49 P

Are you weighing and measuring "everything" you eat.
Are you tracking here at Sparkpeople?
Are you willing to make your tracker public---this will allow us to give more helpful tips.
Let me know if you need the steps to do this.

SP Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

CANDACE3000 Posts: 10
6/15/13 12:29 P

Hi all! I'm a 35 year old single woman. I work and stay very busy, seems like I'm always on the go. I have to be at work at 7am and often don't get home till after 7pm. I'm at 175 lbs now, down from 200 (I'm about 5'7"). I try to exercise 30 minutes, 4-5 times a week, but with a hectic schedule like mine it isn't always possible. I've had open heart surgery to repair the mitral valve and I've recovered beautifully, although I still take beta blockers.

My goal weight is around 145-150, but my weight loss has just stalled. I eat roughly 1500 calories per day. I track everything I eat and drink. On Saturdays, I don't track my food and allow myself an 'off' day. I eat mainly processed foods because (a) its cheaper and (b) I don't have the time to cook.

I'd love to eat fresh foods but I've encountered several problems. First, since its just me eating them, I often have food go bad before I get a chance to eat it, and that is wasted money (I'm on a VERY tight budget). Second, fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive and I'm on a VERY tight budget.

At breakfast, I have ZERO time to cook. At lunch, I have to eat on the go. I'm a teacher and I do NOT have a duty free lunch. My lunch is spent monitoring the lunch room and I stay busy, so I have to eat standing up. Dinner is the only time I actually have the time to cook, but cooking meals for one person is challenging. I've found a lot of food goes to waste, and I can't afford that. That's the reason I've turned to eat WW Smart Ones meals.

And my eating habits worked for a long time. I did lose weight. Now I'm just stuck. I've tried lowering my calories. I've tried increasing my calories to 1600 a day. I've tried Slim Fast (hate Slim Fast). I'm just at a loss. My doctor suggested I eat small meals every 2 hours, but that isn't practical. I work with kids all day and I don't get many breaks. I can't very well pull out a meal and eat while teaching, and tell my 3rd grade students not to mind me. I doubt very much the principal would appreciate that either.

After this HUGE post, I'm hoping someone might have a little advice on how to break out of this plateau. I don't know what I need to change, but I'm getting very frustrated. I hope someone can help. Thank you in advance.

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