When you’re thinking about weight loss diets, just about any program will work, that is, if you use it. If you’ve made the decision to lose weight by “going on a diet”, by definition you’ll eat differently than you usually eat. You’ll be eating someone else’s diet! Most likely you’ll consume fewer calories, and hopefully, you’ll also burn more calories than usual, by doing more activity. That’s a pretty reliable recipe for weight loss.
If you’re like most people, you’re time-challenged, and although you may prefer to eat fresh foods daily, you may find it difficult. You may work full-time; often you have what feels like another full-time job taking care of kids, pets and home. Although we have precious few hours to make sure we eat well, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to. Restaurant drive-through is an option, but you’re almost guaranteed to overdo on calories, and sodium, and it’s not as convenient as all that, when you have to leave your office to get the food. It winds up costing you in time and fuel for your automobile! Quick-serve and even fast food will set you back at least $6 - $10 in most parts of the country. Fresh meal delivery? Too expensive, and doubly so if at the last minute you choose to dine out or cook at home…the food is wasted. Personal chef? Ditto.
That’s where frozen entrees come into play. And a few of the reasons that they work well for weight management are convenience, cost and diet fatigue.
And diet fatigue is high on the list of reasons for weight loss failure. Fatigue means, “a lessening in one's response to or enthusiasm for something, typically as a result of overexposure to it”.
If your food is boring, if you’re eating the same thing every day, you’ll quickly tire of the menu and feel deprived. The next thing you know you’re reaching for that cookie or donut, and moving on to burger and fries. As soon as you ‘go on’ a diet, do you start craving more? After “diet deprivation” for a few days or weeks, do you throw up your hands, and find yourself back at square one?
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with plain broiled fish, salads, and vegetables, and they’re very simple to prepare. But our taste buds yearn for some flavor…different flavors.
Explore the world of frozen meal entrées—some are extremely tasty, I’ve found some that I would call positively gourmet. From the familiar Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine, to Cedarlane, Kashi and delicious Organic Bistro, you get to choose from traditional favorites, or from different ethnic cuisines, seasonal vegetables and fruits, meats, fish and poultry.
Costs range widely—some are quite inexpensive (less than two dollars), however, the cheapest may also be quite ‘skimpy’ on the portions. Some may incorporate more costly, but potentially healthier organic ingredients.
Frozen entrées are reliably pre-portioned, and often contain a mixture of main dish, sides and dessert…all in one package. Portion size is the key to healthy weight management, and by paying attention to the portions in your frozen entrée, you can translate what works for you and practice portion control when you dine out or cook at home.
Shopping: As usual, read the Nutrition Facts panel to choose:
- Entrées that offer approximately 250-350 calories per serving.
- 3-4 grams of fiber per serving
- Lower in sodium: Less than 700 mg of sodium per serving, and better yet, less than 500 mg (upper limit for the day should not exceed 2000 mg).
- At most 3-4 grams of saturated fat (the type of fat that is linked to heart disease) per serving.
“Complete” entrees won’t supply the recommended servings of veggies and fruits daily, (minimum of five a day, combined) so add your own. Stay satisfied and healthy while you lose weight conveniently.
Start your day with a healthy breakfast such as low-sugar cereal, fruit and milk, and include at least one more fruit (not juice) daily. When you’re microwaving your entrée, don’t forget your vegetables, or enjoy a salad: aim for six or more green servings daily: easy to do: one serving is only a cup of salad greens or ½ cup cooked vegetables. Bon Appétit!
Registered and Licensed Dietitian, and Certified Diabetes Educator Susan Burke March is the author of Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally—a fun and informative book intended to liberate serial dieters and make healthy living and weight control both possible and instinctual over the long term. Her latest project is her new eBook for convenient weight loss, The Common Cent$ Diet for Busy Girls, www.thecommoncentsdiet.com
. Susan consults with individuals and companies to create personalized and practical weight management solutions. Email her at Susan@SusanBurkeMarch.com