First of all, let's talk about food! Enjoying food is very important to me. I can't stick to something when I constantly feel hungry or am battling cravings or feel deprived of foods that I love.
I already covered some basics in my previous post, but here are some great meal ideas - all of which are tried and true here at our house!
Eggs and Bacon
Cottage Cheese with Apple slices or a few grapes
Apple slices dipped in nut butter
Grain Free Pancakes
Bacon and Egg Stuffed Avocado
A variety of frittata recipes.
Eggs with tomato and avocado (or homemade guac)
Poached Eggs, Over Greens, with Hollandaise Sauce
Egg, Avocado, and Tomato Salad
"Sandwiches" made with thinly sliced apples instead of bread.
"Sandwiches" made with cucumber slices instead of bread.
Chicken Salad wrapped in Lettuce
Various meat/cheese/veggies wrapped in lettuce
A salad with deviled eggs on the side.
Chicken salad with a small serving of cheese cubes and a small serving of grapes on the side.
Avocado Egg Salad served on spinach (or any variety of greens)
Dinner + Sides
Portabella Pizza Bites
Naked Chicken Fajitas
Stuffed Pork Chops
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Balsamic Marinated Tomatoes
Grain-Free Almond Flax Bread
Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Wraps
Spinach-stuffed Chicken With Bacon
Spaghetti Squash, Sundried Tomatoes, Peas, Broccoli, and Grilled Chicken
Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Apple Skillet
Mozzarella and Goat Cheese stuffed Turkey Burgers
Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash
Crispy Coconut Chicken
Crockpot Chicken with Vegetables
Crockpot Chicken Soup (leave out the noodles, add more veggies)
Meatloaf and Fried Green Tomatoes
Celery and nut-butter
Avocado, egg, and tuna salad (Spread on cucumber slices or on a bed of greens.)
A small serving of almonds, blueberries, and cheese.
Peanut-butter Yogurt Dip (serve with fresh fruit)
Apple slices with cheese or peanut-butter
A small bowl of low/no sugar ice cream (or Clemmy's) with a drizzle of almond butter or "Magic Shell" usually fits the bill, but not always... ;)
Lily's chocolate is another go-to for me. Sometimes I just need a few squares of delectable dark chocolate.
Chocolate Cranberry Pie
Grain-free Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Two-Minute Blueberry Muffin
Low Sugar Hot Chocolate or Chocolate Milk
Pecan Pie with Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Fudge-y Brownies
Chocolate Frosting Shots (Just have to say - SO so good!)
Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Hazelnut Pie
Chocolate Mug Cake
Do I count calories?
Yes and no. (I'll get to the 'yes' later...) In general, I have not counted calories at all; but I am also generally aware of a guestimate of calories at times. I know that the foods I eat are nutrient-dense (which is great!), which also makes them generally richer and more calorie-dense and those add up very quickly. Luckily, I've also found that while eating such healthy real whole foods, I do not need as much food! Quality over quantity really rings true in this case. I do watch portions as it is very easy to overdo portions.
This is a dirty word in my life. I hate plateaus with an endless burning passion. HATE. Yet, having lost 85+ pounds in the last year... I've had many of them. MANY. How do I deal with plateaus??? (Besides constantly hating them...) I have found some tricks to get over plateaus that generally work, even if I have to try all of them at one time.
- More Water - just being more conscious for a while about drinking more water. A glass before every meal, and having a water bottle handy throughout the day and making myself drink whenever I can. Sometimes this has gotten me through a plateau.
- Counting Calories - ah, there it is. The dreaded counting of the calories. (Another thing I hate.) On occasion, I found it useful to really strictly log everything I was eating to meticulously account for all calories and make sure I wasn't overdoing it. Sometimes that also got me over a plateau by showing me clearly where I was overdoing it on calories. Usually it was as simple as keeping my portion sizes in check!!
- Eating more frequently. Sometimes I'd get stuck in a rut of breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12:30ish, and dinner at 6pm. That meant there were many hours between these meals when my metabolism would slow because of a lack of energy to use. Just as a clear example: I found that if I had a smaller breakfast at 7am, and then a small serving of almonds at 9am, cucumber "sandwiches" at 11am, chicken salad over spinach at 1pm, apple slices with peanut-butter at 3pm, and then a moderate dinner at 5pm - it kept my metabolism up more and I'd get over the plateau.
- A combination of, or ALL of the above. If I got really desperate, I'd do all these things (more water; count calories; and smaller, more frequent meals) until I got over a plateau and then I'd resume to my "normal" routines. It took some effort, but it was always worth it to bust through a plateau.
When I first started really trying to get some of the weight off, I set aside a few specific "cheat" days. It was really good for me to have a date in mind and it helped to alleviate any random temptations or cravings. I could tell myself, "Well on the 4th of July I can have that special treat. I can definitely wait until then!" My allowed "cheats" were typically no more frequent than once every two weeks. But quickly (within a few months of starting this) I found that I actually really enjoyed and loved all the food that I am "allowed" to eat and that I hated the way I felt after a cheat day (or even just a cheat meal). Then I realized that because of liking what I usually eat anyway, and because I hate the way I feel after cheating, I didn't need to cheat at all! (The only exceptions being times like Thanksgiving or Christmas. I did loosen up on those two days, but other than that, I never felt like I needed it!)
On one such cheat day, my husband and I stopped at our favorite dessert spot and I decided to get whatever I wanted and picked a long-standing traditional favorite of mine- a pecan bar. An ooey-gooey confection that I had always loved. One bite in and the sweetness was overpowering and honestly, rather disgusting. I couldn't even finish it. I was a little disappointed as I remember having used to love that treat and be easily able to finish the whole dessert; but more than that, I was so happy to find that my tastes have drastically changed and for the better! Now I have absolutely no desire for the ooey-gooey pecan bar and I'd rather have my dark chocolate mug cake with some vanilla Clemmy's melting over top of it!
I love to eat out. (Who doesn't!?) Fortunately I have found it quite easy to eat right even in a restaurant! Most restaurants have great options for grain-free/sugar free/paleo eating. It's pretty simple! "Low carb" meals usually work for grain-free/paleo as well so look for low carb options on the menu. Just watch out for things like sauces and salad dressings. Those often have hidden sugar. I have sometimes brought my own sauce/dressing. One trick I found to be extremely helpful--at many restaurants (depending on what you order) you can ask for half of your meal to be boxed up in advance for you to take home with you. Because the portion sizes are out-of-control in most places, this has become a great option for me and then I get two reasonable (delicious!) meals instead of just one over-sized meal! Plus, when it's boxed up in advance I can't accidentally eat too much or be tempted because "there's more food on my plate!" I am REALLY good about cleaning my plate, so having half of it taken off is the perfect solution for me! I also happily discovered that many of our favorite hot dog/hamburger-type places have the lettuce-instead-of-a-bun replacement option! This is true of Good Dog, Red Robin, and Urban Stack!
This is just an overview touching on some important tools that helped me tremendously. One last (somewhat random) item that I also think is often overlooked.... TV commercials! Most of the times when I was suddenly struck by a near-irresistible craving, it was instigated by seeing a TV commercial! They are so effective at making their food look OH so good and appealing! I found that whenever possible, avoiding commercials was the best thing. Mute them if you are watching a TV program and while they are muted use your laptop or smartphone or read a little bit- distract yourself! It sounds silly and insignificant, but those commercials are seriously out to get you and kill your hard work, willpower, and resolve!