I started a meal plan and exercise routine three weeks before Christmas and lost 5lbs. I gained some back over the holidays but am back at the plan once again. The plan is from Spark People and it's a lower fat, higher protein, higher calcium version of my usual way of eating. Believe me, I'm very much a rookie when it comes to dieting and planning meals. But I'm responding well to tracking my food and following the meal plans prescribed by Spark. It's a free website and so far so good!
A typical meal plan for a day for me will be:
Breakfast: glass of milk (1%), oatmeal, blueberries, coffee/tea, and egg or egg substitute
Lunch: Tuna melt sandwich, grapes, a tea and/or water
Dinner: Pork tenderloin, peppers, sweet potato, applesauce, dinner roll and milk with decaf coffee
Snack: Cauliflower or carrots with hummus dip
Essentially, I have learned to make sure there's a veggie or fruit (or more than one) with every meal, up my intake of dairy and other calcium-rich foods, watch my fat intake and have realized carbohydrates aren't that bad after all. AND I've learned not to mindlessly pour cream into my coffee, snack junk food at my desk, or steal fries from a friend's plate without thinking about it first. At the end of the day, whether my food is on my meal plan or I enter it manually, I see the total amount of calories, fat, carbohydrates and protein that I've consumed. It's a way to keep me on track and doesn't take that much out of my day.
The site encourage at least 8 glasses of water a day and discourages additional snacking...especially the kind of snacking that is mindless. By tracking my food, I am aware of what I am putting into my body even if I stray from the plan.
I don't necessarily intended for this to be an endorsement for Spark but it's helped me discover a new way of planning my meals in a healthy and mindful way. There are other online sites and weight watching programs out there they do very much the same thing. In short, there's a program out there for everyone. I don't know if I'll stick to this for a long time or just try it short-term but for now I like it.
One of the most fascinating things I've learned is how much food I can eat to stay full and fuel my body if I'm aware of what I'm consuming. For example, for the same amount of carbs, calories, fat and protein, I can eat 1.5 tbs peanut butter and 2 stalks of celery...or I can eat a whole veggie burger (without bun) and a small sweet potato. And there are plan options for different preferences such as heart-smart, vegetarian, low-carb, etc.
It may sound cliche, but here's to a new year and a new start. I'll still be found in the junk-food isle every now and then but at least now I'm educating myself on what's in all that food (good and bad) before I consume it.