My favorite foods on a d-d-d-d-diet

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I know the D-word (diet, not this) is a bad word these days. As a feminist, I follow all the blogs and Facebook posts about how you should be happy with your body and not fall into the diet cycle trap.

I fully agree with the notion that you should be proud of who you are and what your body has to offer. Nobody should feel shame about they way they look. I’m all too familiar with that shame and wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.

But I am overweight. And despite all my attempts, I still struggle with the desire to be thin and attractive. (Again, I know thin does not necessarily mean attractive, and that fat does not mean unattractive, but it’s imprinted in my brain.)

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I have been on the same yo-yo most of my adult life, and it recently came back to bite me in the ass. Last summer, I visited my doctor for a check-up. He had me do a fasting blood test to check that all my innards are in working order.

I was shocked to see the results: I was pre-diabetic and had elevated cholesterol. Throughout my adult life, I’ve always been proud of the fact that although I was overweight, I never had Type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. Now that I’m 44, my body says, “Get yer shit together!”

 

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My levels were not high enough to warrant medication (thank goodness!) but they were warning signs. I started trying to loose weight right away, but my struggles with arthritis medication made exercise nearly impossible. I finally got my meds and began feeling human again. Once Thanksgiving was over and I had successfully gorged myself on whatever was put before me, I jumped back on the wagon. I’ve logged my meals daily on MyFitnessPal, and began seeing a personal trainer. I do want to lose weight to look better and fit into cuter clothes, but I also want to be healthy and fit, and to be able to do the things I want. Plus, I’m planning a trip to Europe in May, and I’d like to be able to fit somewhat comfortably in a coach-class seat (though that’s unlikely for people of any size).

Since Thanksgiving, I have lost 12 pounds. That seems like a lot, but to me it’s going sooooooooooo slow! All my personal trainer friends tell me I’m losing it at a very good pace and that losing too quickly is bad. But it’s still frustrating!

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Note: I don’t believe in fad diets. If you’re counting carbs (obsessively) or doing the paleo or any other nonsense, you might as well stop reading. Weight loss is about calories in, calories out. There are other aspects to nutrition and health, but for losing fat, you’ve got to burn more calories than you can take in. Fad diets DO NOT WORK. Often, they are dangerous.

The first two weeks of counting calories were difficult. Changing habits often is. But now I’m in a groove and I don’t struggle much anymore. I also don’t deny myself the foods I like. I just keep track of what I eat and enjoy those “bad” foods in moderation.

I also don’t have time to prepare foods in advance and portion things out like they say I should. Maybe I could make the time, but I’m scatter-brained and would forget to bring them anyway. So I rely on quick and easy foods to get through the day.

Here are some of the foods I enjoy on this journey

Disclaimer: I absolutely DO NOT claim that these foods are the best or are any type of “superfood” or any resemblance thereof. I am NOT a dietician, and I never intend to be. Please read the writing of more learned people before you depend on me. Also, I count calories, so if you want more info, read the label.

 

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Orville Redenbacher’s Naturals Simply Salted

I LOVE popcorn. It’s my favorite snack, ever. It’s whole grain, full of fiber, crunchy and delicious. And if you drown it in butter and salt, it’s like heaven. My problem is that butter and salt issue. I prefer to make popcorn at home on the stove (as the lord intended) with real, European-style butter and salt. But when I have to make do with microwave popcorn, my preference is “movie theater butter” or “butter explosion,” “BUTTER APOCALYPSE” or something like that. Just on a whim, I decided to try this Naturals version, Simply Salted. I couldn’t believe how tasty it was, and it actually tastes buttery to me. My co-workers might hate me for the smell, but I eat this almost every afternoon.

Calories: 30 popped = about 65 calories per bag. Also, deciphering calories on microwave popcorn is like deciphering the Rosetta Stone with no knowledge of ancient Greek writing. This number may be way off, but I still eat it.

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Green tea

I’ve cut back on my Diet Coke addiction, not because all the paranoids think that aspartame is bad for you (in moderation, it’s not), but because it’s kind of an expensive habit. I must have 1-2 ice cold Diet Cokes every morning, then I usually switch to green tea.

Green tea is believed to help with everything from weight loss, depression and even prevents tooth decay! I tried One-a-Day vitamins with green tea extract and it made me vomit about 30 minutes after I took it, which was in the morning. Gave me a pretty good pregnancy scare! I don’t know if they still make them, but if they do – stay away! Just drink your tea.

My absolute fave is Starbucks green tea. I could suck that stuff down all day! There is a Starbucks in my building at work, but it doesn’t have the green tea (also, it’s expensive!), so I make my own. I bought this box of Kirkland Green Tea tea from Amazon because a Google search told me that Japanese green tea doesn’t have arsenic in it like other types can. At work, I steep it in hot water then add a packet of sweetener. Then pour it over ice. Viola! Ice cold deliciousness.

Calories: Nada

Apples and peanut butter

This is an old-school treat that I enjoy greatly. I prefer Granny Smith apples because they are sour, and I prefer Skippy peanut butter, just because (probably it’s the saltiest). Apples on their own are boring, and for some reason they make me hungrier. My boss makes her own peanut butter with one of those super blenders, but I haven’t gotten that into it yet. Maybe I’ll get a badass blender and try it eventually. I have an apple divider I keep at work, and a jar of PB in my drawer. The peanut butter is a good fat and the 7 grams of protein helps keep me full and build muscles. Apples, of course, are a healthy fruit

Calories: Apple, 80; Skippy PB: 190.

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Oatmeal

This is my go-to breakfast. I prefer Quaker Real Medleys, but the apple walnut is the only flavor I like of these. If those aren’t available, I buy a box of Quaker Instant and keep it in my desk drawer. Pour it into a coffee cup and add hot water and you’re good to go.

Calories: Medleys, 290; Instant, 130

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Almonds

Almonds are an excellent snack for so many reasons, not the least of which is that they’re yummy! They are high in calories and fat, but it’s the good kind: monounsaturated fat, which can reduce your risk of heart disease while keeping you full. According to this website, almonds are good for your heart, can reduce the risk of diabetes and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. I chomp on Blue Diamond Roasted & Salted, and Blue Diamond Wasabi & Soy Sauce. They make loads of other flavors (even Sriracha!), but these two are my faves. I keep a big bag of each in my desk and if I get hungry too soon before lunch, I nosh. A serving is 28 nuts. For the first month or so, I counted out exactly 28 nuts, but now I can eyeball a serving and be OK.

Calories: 170

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KFC

I know KFC gets a bad rap as a fast food place that is high in fats and calories. But if you know what to eat, you can eat like the queen that you are and not miss a thing, and I’m not just saying that because I’m from Kentucky.

It’s the perfect post-workout meal when I’m in a hurry and I just have to have a drive-thru meal. I get a grilled chicken breast or a two-piece all-white grilled. If you’re a fan of dark meat, it really doesn’t make much of a difference calorie-wise, so go ahead. Just make sure you get the grilled chicken. I always get sides of green beans and mashed potatoes and gravy. If it comes with a biscuit, I just total up my calories for the day and determine if I have enough leeway to indulge. The KFC grilled chicken is some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s not bland like fast-food grilled chicken sandwiches often are. (Also, Buffalo Wild Wings Naked Tenders are a good option.) I usually have a bottle of BWW’s Medium sauce at home to add to my chicken, which adds a few calories, for sure, but I’m kind of addicted to it.

Calories: grilled breast, 180; grilled wing, 60; mashed potatoes with gravy, 120; green beans, 25; biscuit, 180. Total: 565. Total without biscuit, 385. BWW medium sauce, 40.

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Skinny Cow

In my household, ice cream is a food group. I even bought Boyfriend an ice cream maker for Christmas, though he hasn’t used it yet (ahem).

The best option out there for low-calorie ice cream treats is Skinny Cow, in all varieties! Skinny Cow’s products are usually right around 100 calories, though some can have more.

Second place goes to Weight Watchers Giant Fudge Bar. With either of these products, you can satisfy your ice cream craving without breaking the calorie bank. Every evening, Boyfriend and I ask each other, “Is it Skinny Cow time?” They should hire me as their advertising copywriter (ahem).

Calories: Skinny Cow Caramel Truffle Bar, 100

Well, that’s all for now. Hopefully, I will know the joy that this guy does:

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