Ok, for starters I don’t believe in “dieting” per say. I mean think about it… If you do the Paleo Challenge, 21 Day Challenge, Low Carb, or any other diet you are restricting your diet and often cutting things completely out of it. This deprivation might work short term, but unless you stick to that diet for the rest of your life you are technically yoyo dieting, am I right? The minute you break the diet you gain the weight back, and sometimes worse! I think this is why Weight Watchers works. Rather than dieting and cutting out foods, they teach people to portion food by counting points. The down side is a lot of people will lose the weight, but they could still be eating junk, just cutting down the caloric intake, which means inside the body- the machine isn’t working to it’s highest efficiency. If you’re athletic, like me, it can hinder results and progress.
If you want to try a diet, go for it. Sometimes I will for a couple weeks to cleanse my body and get back on track, but don’t expect miracles, is what I am saying I guess. Use it as a tool. Take what you learn and combine the diets to make something that works for you for life. So you can eat a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone and not blow up like a balloon.
So that being said, the most important thing whether dieting or making a lifestyle change is meal preparation (meal prep). Who the heck has time for meal prep? The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with a variety of quick and easy recipes and prep them at the beginning of the week so you can prepare a meal in 10-20 minutes time when it comes time to eat. Once you learn how to balance a meal out, you can do it without even thinking about it. And it won’t require as much time for “meal prep”.
Step One- Pick your meats and go lean! I usually go with whatever is on sale, but try to get a variety of chicken, beef, pork and occasionally a fresh piece of fish. Read the packages. How many calories, cholesterol, fat, saturated fat, protein and sodium does the meat yield? By comparing the cuts you will see how a pork loin differs from a pork chop, or how 93% lean ground beef or 94% lean ground turkey differs from 85% lean ground beef. If I am planning on having fish I don’t buy it until the day of because unless you are buying frozen fish, it’s not really something you want to be reheating (personal opinion anyway). …If you don’t eat meat, obviously this step doesn’t apply to you the same. But you would want to pick your proteins regardless.
Step Two- Decide how to cook the meat, and what you are going to have with it. With any diet, the key is going to be variety. If you eat the same thing 5 days a week, at the same time, your not doing your metabolism any favors. Your body becomes familiar with the pattern and it doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the foods, in essense, it could slow down your metabolism.
Next, my advice to you is to familiarize yourself with vegetables- what is starchy and what is not? Learning your veggies is really a great idea for everyone! It makes balancing a meal so much easier. If you are having a starchy vegetable, you probably won’t want to have a grain with it (like brown rice). If you want to have a rice or pasta or legume, you may want to choose less starchy vegetable as a pairing item. Catching my drift? P.S. Frozen vegetables are great! They are cheap, and sometimes have more nutrients than fresh vegetables because they are frozen at peak ripeness. If they taste bland, remember you can season them! 🙂 Stay away from canned vegetables if possible, as they carry the least nutrients. Check out the two links below for a list of veggies both starchy & non (as well as more information):
Now another thing you might need to consider is the fiber content of vegetables because if you are removing grains from your diet, you might not be getting fiber from that source, and they are typically a great source for fiber and carbohydrates. Here is a useful link with the top fruits and veggies and their fiber content. Try and incorporate these into your diet so you don’t fall short. A diet low in fiber can result in gastrointestinal issues… A fancy way of saying a problem with your poops.
Now for the fun part- Recipes!!!! 🙂
Here is a great website with tons of recipes for Paleo dieters or even people like me that just like to try a variety of different healthy meal options:
Now, the beauty of stretching a meal is to not just limit yourself to one thing. For example, say you picked up a package of steak tips.
Make a steak kabob adding fruits and veggies, and seasoning of your choice.
Serve some with a side of sweet potato and asparagus, or some with other veggies or even a salad.
Use some of it to make a Beef vegetable soup or stew
Grill it, bake it, sautee it- you can serve chicken a million different ways. Have leftover and want something different? Make a chicken salad, or shred it and make stuffed peppers with it. Cut it up and throw it into a soup with veggies of your choice. Toss it on a salad,
IF…. You still prefer to make one meal and have it for lunch 5 days a week, that’s okay, and I would recommend using the crock pot options for some easy hot meals because they will be easiest and don’t limit you to just soup. You can cook almost anything in a crockpot.
Cashew Chicken, Simple Salsa Chicken, Pulled Pork, Meatballs, chili etc. Check out the recipes on this website above for some ideas. I included a couple direct links below also:
I try and give myself a couple hours at the beginning of the week to meal prep. You can cook the meat at the beginning of the week, you can cook the whole meal and just reheat it each day. Or you can even just cut it up, and package it so you know what you are having on what day and just cook it on that day. It’s really up to you! Hope this helps!
Oh, last thing… Another great tool for learning how to balance your meal is Choosemyplate.gov. This website is what replaced the old school “food pyramid”. But also has lots of tips and recipes, etc.