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.
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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.
"The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of a proactive person."- Stephen R. Covey
"You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'-but not everything is good for you. You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'—but not everything is beneficial."- 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT)
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