When I started counting my calories and losing weight, my only goal was to eat LOW CALORIE FOOD. It was a lot of processed foods. If it came out of a box or a can, I was able to accurately count my calories. It worked for me. After losing the weight and keeping it off I realized there was more to life than eating diet food. There were REAL FOODS I could eat that tasted much better. And they were better for me. I slowly started to eliminate the processed foods from my diet.
This past year there’s been some major changes to my diet. Having a garden with fresh veggies radically changed what I ate and how I looked at food. I realized I prefer a simple, “caveman diet.” I want the steak with veggies, or chicken with salad. I don’t miss eating potatoes or pasta. In fact I rarely crave it now.
You know how I feel about the word “diet.” I dislike the word and the concept of a diet. However, if you’re trying to learn to eat healthier there are better foods that you can eat that will pack more of a nutritional punch.
Instead of eating LOW CALORIE diet foods, try eating healthy foods that will fill you up.
I’ve always been a fan of eggs. We eat scrambled eggs for breakfast Monday through Friday (most of the time). I have no issues with cholesterol and no, I’m not sick of eggs. Eggs are awesome because they are low in calories (70) and high in protein (6grams) and fill you up. For awhile during the summer I was taking hard boiled eggs with me to work to eat at lunch with a salad, or to eat as a snack. I found on days that I snacked on hard boiled eggs I was rarely hungry later.
You can do lots of things with eggs. It’s not just a breakfast food. What about grilled peppers with eggs? It was a great dinner!
Cottage Cheese is an awesome food. It’s low in calories, low in carbs, high in protein (15grams) and sits heavy in the stomach like beans do. Protein is pretty magical that way. I think that’s why diet programs like Atkins are successful (even if it’s just temporarily).
The cool thing about cottage cheese is that you can eat it at any meal. Have it for breakfast with some fruit on top. Have it as a snack. Add it to salads instead of dressing, or have a scoop of it as a side with dinner. It goes with everything. It’s a good substitute for sour cream on potatoes, ricotta cheese in lasagna or add it to smoothies instead of yogurt. There’s a million ways to eat it.
Cheese gets a bad rap. It is a bit higher in calories, especially for the SMALL amount you get in a serving. But it’s packed with calcium–which we need lots of, and it’s beneficial to all the bones in our bodies (even our teeth). The thing about cheese is that the protein in it far-outweighs the “negatives” in my opinion. Don’t let the high calorie count scare you off, there are alternatives you can do.
For example, string cheese is 80 calories. That’s NOT bad for us calorie counters. Eating a string cheese with an apple will fill you up without breaking the calorie bank. Another option is the Babybel cheeses or Laughing Cow. The Babybel cheese are between 50-75 calories and they taste good. Eat one of them with a few nuts and you’ll be good.
Cucumbers are a big fat zero in my book. They are hardly any calories–mostly water. You can make a cucumber relish to put on food, add it to salads, eat sliced cucumber with hummus (now THAT will fill you up!).
Or try this Japanese Cucumber Salad the next time you want a low-calorie side dish. Yum!
Oatmeal sticks to your ribs, just like mom used to say. I think that’s the fiber in it. You can get oatmeal that does have protein in it too–I like Scottish Oats and Steel Cut Oats.
There are a lot of ways to enjoy oatmeal–a little milk and brown sugar, fruit, peanut butter…the list is endless. I like adding protein powder to my oatmeal for a little bit of extra something. I eat oatmeal a lot in the winter time. It’s quick and easy and warms me up.
Dinners in our house are frequently the following: a protein, a salad, and a vegetable. As a single girl trying to eat healthy I ate a lot of salads. Before Michael I didn’t really cook. I ate a lot of Lean Cuisines. I did, however, make big salads for dinner a lot.
Salad is an easy food to make. Get creative! Add some cranberries or sliced strawberries with a little bit of Gorgonzola cheese to it. Add a bunch of your favorite veggies (I used whatever was in my garden). Or, add protein: beans, eggs, cottage cheese, or leftover shredded chicken.
I eat a lot of fish. Always have. My favorite is salmon. Salmon is so healthy for you and it’s relatively low in calories. A healthy, filling dinner of baked salmon with a salad is under 500 calories. It’s the perfect meal.
A lot of people are iffy about fish. Maybe they don’t like the flavor or smell, or they don’t know how to prepare it. Most fishes are pretty versatile and there are so many delicious recipes to try. I feel more comfortable with baking fish.
Shrimp is a good way to get protein. Shrimp helps your body process fats, lower blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar levels, plus a myriad of other health benefits. The best part: a serving of 9 shrimp is about 100 calories. And trust me, eating nine shrimp in a salad will fill you up. Those little suckers are good at that.
Finally, if you’re looking for a healthier option when eating out: try sushi!
With the Slow Carb Diet experiment we did in Spring, our breakfast became: 2 scrambled eggs, turkey sausage links (or bacon), salsa and black beans. At first it was a lot of food. I reduced the amount of turkey sausage links I eat (Michael eats 3 and I eat 1) and that helped. Adding beans to our eggs made a HUGE difference. I was no longer hungry in an hour, even on days I rode my bike to work. I was full longer and I think adding beans to our daily diet helped Michael lose over 20 pounds.
A coworker recently complained to me that she was starving by the time she got to work. She was an early riser, went to the gym, then ate breakfast before coming to work. She said she was hungry all the time. I suggested our breakfast and she tried it and LOVED it! She said she felt better, more alert, she felt less run down, she wasn’t hungry until lunchtime.
Beans are the secret. They sit heavy in your stomach and the last thing you think about is eating more food. Beans take forever to digest. Next time you want to add more fiber and slow-digesting food to your diet, make a bean soup or add beans to a salad. You’ll be converted.
Soup is one of my favorite filling-foods. There’s so many varieties to choose from. If you make the soup from scratch you can avoid high sodium levels too. Tomato soup is a fairly low calorie choice and paired with a salad it’s an easy and healthy meal.
Broth-based soups are obviously healthier than creamy ones because they don’t have all the cream in them. One of my new favorite soups is French Onion. You wouldn’t think it’s a healthy soup because it’s got a ton of cheese and bread in it but it can be made in a healthier way.
QUESTION: What are your favorite “diet” foods?
About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.