It sounds to me that what you are doing is a type of "food exchange program".
You are using food groups and deciding how many to have at a meal or snack. Since similar foods with similar portion sizes have similar calories---you are controlling your calorie intake without having to "look up and write down" everything you eat. I do this all the time with my lunch and dinner. I use a small 9-inch place and cover 1/4 with a lean protein/meat, 1/4 with a starchy item, and fill the other 1/2 with fruits, veggies, salad, etc. Thus most of my lunches and dinners have between 400-500 calories.
I think you answered your own question, with this: " I'm definitely liking this eating pattern I've started, and I'm finding I'm not hungry as often, and I don't need to eat as much to get full anymore. I had my smoothie at noon, and didn't eat lunch until 5pm today and I wasn't overly hungry which is a pretty big deal for me."
Always remember.. .it's finding out what works for you.
The best exercise in the world is to bend down and help someone up.
I've been struggling a lot with trying to get back on track, and in the process, I gained back more than half of the nearly 20 pounds I lost.
Try as I might, I cannot motivate myself to count calories or points, etc. So, I started maling some other changes. Last week, I started eating between the hours of 12pm and 10pm only. I did eat a little after 10pm last Wednesday (due to church; I finished dinner around 10:30), and Mondays are my free day, but I figured that setting these parameters would help me to eat on a more regular schedule.
Then, this week, I started adding in green smoothies for breakfast. I was already drinking smoothies a few days a week because of how my work schedule collided with 12pm, but I added MORE veggies, and I'm working on cutting back on fruit. Today, I made a smoothie with kale, spinach, bok choy, chard, banana, cherries (frozen), pineapple (frozen), vanilla extract, and cinnamon. I also threw in some carrots and the green tops from the strawberries I had with my lunch. All of my smoothies use a 2% plain Fage yogurt (7oz) though I will treat myself to a full fat yogurt on occasion.
So, I thought the next thing to tackle would be lunch. My lunch schedule is a bit sporadic, and depending on the day, I eat next to nothing- maybe a small snack. I'm realizing that this could be a problem because it means that I'm extra hungry when I eat dinner, so I figured I should try to make more of an effort to eat at least a small lunch around 3-4pm or so.
Since I am still not ready to worry about counting calories, I thought I would try following WW Simply Filling for lunch. Basically, I can eat lean proteins (boneless, skinless chicken breasts, eggs, wild caught salmon, tuna packed in water, etc), whole grains (brown rice, quinoa), fruit, veggies (including potatoes), fat free dairy (which I don't eat), and up to 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
Of course, I am still torn about possible exceptions. I don't eat "light breads" or fat free dairy. am considering allowing myself 1 serving of dairy during this time without counting points. The bread thing is less of an issue, so I will probably be ok with counting a couple points for the 100% whole wheat pita I like to have with my homemade hummus.
Obviously, the next thing will be to tackle dinner/desserts, but I figured I've managed to figure out breakfast (or lunch on Sundays because that's a backwards day due to work). With the lunch thing, I've basically cut out all junk during the work day or immediately after work. Dinner will definitely be hardest, so I may start working on dinner a few days a week unlike lunch/breakfast which I jumped right into.
So, is changing how I eat one meal at a time actually a good strategy? I'm definitely liking this eating pattern I've started, and I'm finding I'm not hungry as often, and I don't need to eat as much to get full anymore. I had my smoothie at noon, and didn't eat lunch until 5pm today and I wasn't overly hungry which is a pretty big deal for me.
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