September 20, 2021

What I've Been Eating As I've Been Losing Weight

Several people have asked me to do a "what I eat" post recently. I don't normally like to post these because I get a lot of criticism for my food choices. But as I'll explain below, I just do what works for me. I'm not at all saying that this is how other people should eat!

I still feel like posts like this are premature because I am not at my target weight (goal weight, comfortable weight, happy weight, call it what you like). I'm still in the process of losing the weight I'd gained over the last few years.

Thankfully, it's going very well! I've lost just over 30 pounds in 16 weeks, going from a 10-year-high weight of 197 to 163.8 at my most recent weigh-in.

To lose the weight, I've just been counting calories (something that has never failed me in the past). There is no cookie cutter weight loss plan for everybody; we all need to find out what works for us (that took a lot of trial and error for me).

I've learned quite a bit about my body over the last three decades of dieting! Here are just a few things I've learned:

I lose weight very consistently when I reduce the number of calories I'm eating. If I just try to eat less food, I still tend to eat too much; that's why I count the calories.

My body likes to run on carbs and fat. Whenever I tried to get the recommended-at-the-time ratio of macronutrients in the past, I was miserable. It caused me to binge eat and quit altogether. I don't even look at my macronutrients now; I just trust that my body will crave what it needs.

I feel best when I eat a small volume of food, but still keep the calories at a "normal" number. In other words, I prefer calorie-dense foods. When I eat a large volume of lower-calorie food, I just don't feel good. Eating smaller, higher-calorie foods satisfies my appetite and hunger without making me feel overly full and bloated.

I do best without a calorie limit. This is always hard to explain, but I don't have a particular number that I aim for each day. I find that when I do, I don't listen to my body's cues. Some days, I have no appetite and I eat very little; other days, I'm ravenous and I eat a lot. I find that if I have a target, I'll continue to eat until I reach that number whether I'm hungry or not. Or if I have already used my calories for the day and I'm super hungry, I'll binge eat. So, I choose not to have a calorie limit. I find that I average anywhere from 1300 to 1900 a day. But still, sometimes more and sometimes less.

Finally, I much prefer to use my calories on a meal that I really look forward to (which is dinner). So, I save the majority of my calories for dinnertime and a snack a few hours later. I eat dinner very early (between 3:30 and 4:30 ish). So I'll eat very lightly until dinner.

Okay, I just wanted to explain all that before I get into what I tend to eat day-to-day. To someone who is used to eating 5-6 times a day, it would sound like I'm starving by eating only 2-3 times. Or to someone who likes 3 square, balanced meals, my food choices seem odd.

Note: My serving sizes may vary from what is shown here or listed in recipes. I base my serving size on how hungry I am--I just make sure to measure it and count it.

Breakfast

For a while last year, I got into doing intermittent fasting and I skipped breakfast and lunch. I really liked that, because I found it freed my mind from thinking about food all day! I don't do fasting (deliberately) anymore, but I also don't mind missing meals if I'm not hungry or I'm just busy.

Breakfast is the same for me every day. I have black tea with a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of heavy cream. Most days I don't eat anything with it, but when I do, it's fruit. I'll have a big bowl of grapes or a couple of plums or peaches. Whatever I have on hand. I love fruit!

Asian Pear (These are my very very favorite fruit! But I can never find them and when I do,
they are $2-3 EACH. I'm hoping my Asian Pear tree will give me fruit one day!




Lunch

I've never enjoyed lunchtime. It seems so inconvenient--it's always when I'm busy doing other things, and I don't like to cook just for myself. Also, I never know what to eat for lunch.

If I'm really busy, I'll just skip it. Otherwise, I almost always have a couple of pieces of string cheese and either crackers or fruit. I can't remember the last time I had something other than that, actually!

The jalapeño string cheese is my favorite!



Dinner

I'm always hungry for dinner, which is how I like it. If I'm not very hungry, then the food doesn't taste as good. By 3:30 or 4:00, I'm definitely ready to eat. Since I eat very lightly throughout the day, I like to plan a satisfying dinner. Satisfying doesn't always mean "big" (as in volume) but it's almost always something high in calories. I don't skimp on using oil or butter, cheese, pasta, rice, etc.

Also, I don't like eating a typical "meat and side dishes" type meals. I almost always make one-pot meals, skillet dinners, and casseroles. Clearly, I don't eat enough vegetables. I like to mix them into whatever the dish is that I'm making. If I was to cook a side of veggies, I'd be the only one in my family to eat them!

Here are some examples of dinner (I've linked the photos to my recipes, if they are posted on the blog):

Chicken Fajita Bowl


Fried Rice


Gnocchi and mushrooms with pesto cream sauce



Some sort of Asian chicken with rice (I can't remember)


Chicken Taco Soup


Spicy Chicken Taco Pasta


Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein


Pork Bibimbap


Mushroom Stroganoff (I give the family beef, but I prefer just mushrooms)



I'm not sure what this is, but it was good! Some sort of Asian-flavored skillet meal.



Meatball subs on garlic bread


Spaghetti Pie


White Chicken Enchiladas


Sesame Chicken


Tortellini with pesto cream


Chicken Pot Pie Bubble Up


Margherita Pizza


Spicy Peanut Noodle Bowls


Steak, green beans, mashed potatoes, and mushrooms


Hawaiian Fried Rice


Spicy Black Bean Enchiladas


Jerry's Favorite Pork and Rice with applesauce


Grilled cheese (muenster) with bacon


Chipotle chicken and cheese quesadillas (the kids like me to make this when they have
friends over for dinner--it's a teenager favorite!)


Ground turkey and cabbage with peanut sauce


General Tso's Chicken


Smoked sausage hash with a runny egg

Pesto Cream Gnocchi (we LOVE this! I usually make it with tortellini now, though)


A lot of the dinners are deceptively high in calories. Like the gnocchi above, I think it's something like 800 calories. It has heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and pesto sauce, which is a lot of fat. So even a small portion is very filling. That's what I am referring to when I say "calorie dense" foods. My dinner is almost always 700-1,000 calories. If I want to have less calories for dinner, I'll just eat a smaller portion of whatever I'm making rather than try to alter the recipe.

Snack

Since I eat dinner so early, I like to have a good-sized snack at around 8:00 or so. And this is where I basically just eat anything that sounds good. From a big bowl of grapes to a piece of homemade dessert to a couple of ounces of cashews to salami and string cheese. Anything goes--it just depends on my mood. But here are some examples of snacks:

Almonds and dried cherries


A candy bar of any sort--I love candy bars!


A Larabar with chocolate peanut butter and strawberries


Chips Ahoy cookies and milk (Chips Ahoy cookies are a vice of mine--
I like them more than homemade cookies a lot of the time! ;) 



Animal crackers and salami slices


A cookie sampler... I ended up not liking these ones, so I didn't finish them.


Cashews and string cheese (cashews are a go-to when I need more calories;
most of the time, I'll have 2 ounces, which is 340 calories; shown above is only 1 ounce).


Peach cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream


Imitation crab in butter with applesauce (yes, this is weird--it was a craving!)


Popcorn with fake butter (you know that butter flavored oil? That.) and salt


Cheez-its and string cheese


Marshmallows and cashews (marshmallows only have 25 calories each!)



Apple with cinnamon raisin peanut butter


Cap'n Crunch cereal (or any kind, really--I love cereal!)

As you can see, my snacks are a big smorgasbord of stuff. Sometimes I have as many calories as a full meal, other times just a couple hundred. Again, it all depends on how hungry I am and/or how much I ate during the rest of the day.

Drinks

As far as drinks, I only drink tea and water. I quit drinking alcohol in February and I don't like to spend calories on other drinks like soda or juice. If we have friends over or something, I might have Heineken 0.0, but other than that, I just stick to water. Occasionally a La Croix if I can get them on sale for cheap! Haha.

So there you have it. My diet is far from perfect, but it's a million times better than it was when I was 253 pounds. I eat what I enjoy and I don't obsess about getting in the perfect numbers. I eat too much sugar, not enough vegetables, too many processed foods, and all the other things that I've heard before. But I eat how it works best for ME. And I'm cool with that.

Also, my tastes change over time. I usually go through phases for months at a time, or even a year or more. (In 2015-2016, I probably ate 2,000 packs of fruit snacks! And in 2017, I ate probably 400 bowls of cereal. In 2012-2013, I ate oatmeal probably 700 times. One time, I even went through a salad phase--and I don't even like salad, for the most part! Lately, it's been string cheese, pickles, and crackers (Goldfish, Cheez-its, animal crackers, or plain old saltines).

Like I said, there is nothing special or exciting about my diet. I just eat whatever sounds best to me :)

13 comments:

  1. Your meals look delicious!

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  2. I had no clue there was jalapeno string cheese!! Your meals look good to me (minus the mushrooms 😁). I love reading all the recipes you post.

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  3. I sometimes like to think of it as the food has enjoyment/taste points and you maximize those while minimising calories. Experts talk about empty calories from a nutrition view but ignore the enjoyment. You great to be flexible, no two days are the same. The expert do however say that different diets work better for different people and it the number of calories eaten that is in the end the only important number so as it works for you, keep going!

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  4. I always love seeing what others are cooking for dinner! Gives me some cooking inspiration. Especially what real families eat, not the perfect Pinterest recipes that take about 3 hours and 10 pots and pans to make. I ain't got time for that! ;)

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  5. I can appreciate your reticence to do this post. Seems like in this social media age that people have become so judgmental and free to criticize other people openly and rudely. I think what your post shows for sure is how the key to losing weight is figuring out what works for yourself. I do something similar - not in the eating most of my calories for dinner but in eating what I like. I eat muffins, chocolate, all the "regular" stuff that I never would have let myself have years ago when I was "dieting". As long as I count calories and stay in a certain range I lose consistently. It's when I stop counting and try to wing it that I start gaining weight back. Knowing that doesn't make me perfect at it though lol. Someday hopefully I will actually hit that goal weight. I've gotten close a couple times and then I start relaxing and gain 10 or 15 pounds back and have to work my way down again. It's a never ending battle haha

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  6. This is a wonderful post!!! Thank you SO MUCH!! Your eating preferences are so much like mine--I love carbs and fat and definitely can't seem to completely give up sugar. I'm trying to just "eat like a normal person," and I believe that is actually what you are doing. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your very thorough post. I'm hoping to lose 30 lbs. and I believe this will help me stay motivated. I know myself well enough to not restrict any foods (result: binging!) and I seem to share your fondness for carbs and fat...but now I won't feel as bad about it. I'll just enjoy my favorite foods and count calories without restrictions.

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  7. This was such a helpful and inspirational post, thank you!! You've inspired me to get on track with counting calories. I have the same issue with binging if I limit myself too strictly so I decided to try your approach for a while. Counting and tracking without a strict limit.

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  8. I completely agree that everyone needs to find what works for them, but with the focus on weight, I think you miss some of the reasons for recommendations to eat vegetables, protein, and in general a broad range of foods. It's not just about weight - food is about overall health too, and getting adequate protein and the range of micro-nutrients can play a huge role in managing chronic pain, fatigue, insomnia (adjusting my way of eating was huge for me in improving my sleep), and so many other health issues. I do not subscribe to the belief that food cures all or that you can eat your way cure of cancer, for example, but there is ample research demonstrating its role in so many aspects of our health and daily lives. Just something to consider.

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  9. I always appreciate your food posts! We have similar palattes. :)

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  10. Love the post Katie and thank you. Everything looks delicious and I so agree eat what you love and what your body is craving. You look fantastic and you are proof it works!

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  11. Thank you so much for posting this Katie! I’ve read your posts many times about counting your calories, but until today I didn’t actually “get it”. I mean I know how to count calories, but in my mind, I needed to plan out my day based on how many calories different foods contained and track it beforehand. Does that make sense? Sometimes I’m amazed at how my brain works. All of that said, this post was truly eye opening for me! Thank you! Tracie

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  12. I want your recipe for gnocchi and mushroom in pesto sauce!!

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    Replies
    1. Mmmm, I'm going to have to make that ASAP! Haha, the gnocchi with pesto cream sauce is SO GOOD. For the one with mushrooms, all I did was sauté some sliced button mushrooms in butter, set them aside while I made the dish per usual: Pesto Cream Gnocchi.
      Then I just added the mushrooms to the dish at the end. Let me know what you think :)

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