My weight loss journey has entered the hard phase, where nothing is going as I would like for it to, particularly the number on the scale. I’ve been actively, even somewhat feverishly, experimenting over the past several weeks with different foods and eating schedules and so forth to try to find a way that I can both lose weight and be happy.
I know what doesn’t make me happy:
- Feeling hungry, ever, even for a short period of time. I get very cranky.
- Eating “diet” food, such as fat-free and sugar-free foods that SHOULD contain fat and/or sugar (milk, cheese, salad dressing, etc.).
- Eating high-carb, high-sugar foods, such as cookies, which give me tachycardia for an hour and a fuzzy head all day.
I also have learned, through trial and mostly error, a few things that are helpful.
- Rice is a really diet-busting food, for me. So is pasta. Both cause nearly instant weight gain, and neither delivers any real satisfaction.
- Exercise, even the low-intensity little bit that I do, is essential. Neither the dogs nor I have benefited from skipping our walks.
- Eating meals while I’m fixing them, standing at the stove or counter, is not really in my best interests.
- I can’t control what I don’t track, and careful measuring works better than guessing every time.
- Three substantial and balanced meals a day eaten at regular intervals works better for me than several small meals and snacks scattered haphazardly around the clock.
- Trying to think of something to eat at the end of the day and then having to cook it when I’m hungry leads to bad choices (see first bullet point in list above). Prepping a variety of healthy foods in large quantities at the start of the week makes it easy to put together a good meal quickly.
In addition to trying to find the right balance of when and where and how much to eat, there is the fundamental question of WHAT to eat. I am seeking the Holy Grail of healthy, simple, inexpensive food that tastes fantastic and is good for me (meaning, won’t bust my diet). So far, I have found two recipes that show tremendous promise, and am actively seeking new ones as well as developing my own.
First, chia seeds. These are kind of a trendy thing now, and I’m not usually a fan of trends, but now I’ve tried them and I think they are actually really great. They look like poppy seeds, and have the quality of creating their own gelatin when wet. A one-ounce (28 gram) serving of chia seeds (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams of dietary fiber, 5 milligrams of sodium, 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium, 27% phosphorus and 30% manganese. Whether they’ll help you lose weight is still an open question, but they make a delicious and filling small meal or snack. You can get them in most supermarkets, sometimes in the bulk food section.
There are a thousand variations on the basic chia pudding recipe, all of which can be found on Pinterest, I’m sure. My recipe is very simple:
1/2 c milk (you can use regular, 2%, skim, almond, coconut or soy; I use almond)
2 Tbs chia seeds
1 Tbs agave syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
1 tsp unsweetened coconut
Mix well and refrigerate overnight in a covered container. Serve topped with any fresh fruit.
You’ll be picking the seeds out of your teeth for an hour and the slick texture can take some getting used to, but I really like this recipe, which tastes great both before and after the pudding “sets.” You can, of course, adapt it with any ingredients you like. My version adds up to 5 Weight Watcher points.
The second great thing I’ve discovered is sofrito, which is a salsa-like flavor base used in Latin American cooking much the same way that mirepoix is used in French cooking. Everyone has a unique recipe and you can buy it bottled as well (Goya is one brand I’ve seen), but making it from scratch is a snap, especially when you have all the ingredients already prepped in the fridge.
My recipe for this is pretty simple, too:
2-3 Tbs olive oil
8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 c white or yellow onion, diced
1 c green bell pepper, diced
8-10 peppadew peppers, roughly chopped
2 c tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
Sauté the garlic and onions in the oil over medium heat for a few minutes until onions are translucent before adding the rest of the ingredients. Cook, stirring, for about 5-7 more minutes until tomatoes soften and mixture turns orange. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, or other seasonings to taste if you want to use it as-is, or leave the seasonings out altogether and use as a flavor base in other dishes.
Purée in food processor to desired level of smoothness. Makes about a quart.
I mix this stuff with rice and beans, put it on scrambled eggs, pour it over grilled chicken, even use it as a sandwich spread. I’ve made it with a bunch of cilantro added to the food processor (not cooked), and that was pretty good, too, but I don’t always have cilantro on hand and it’s still plenty good without it. The best part is, it’s all vegetables (which have no point value in WW) but it tastes fantastic! The fat content in a quarter-cup serving is hardly worth worrying about, and it’s a healthy fat anyway, so I don’t worry about it.
My guiding principle right now is that I want to eat what I like and like what I eat, every day, so having a recipe for a delicious, healthy, low-point snack, as well as a recipe for a delicious, healthy, versatile condiment that makes everything it touches taste better, has been very helpful to me in getting a handle on my eating plan so that I can, I hope, start turning things around. It’s been so frustrating to keep crossing and recrossing the same ground, never going beyond the familiar old boundaries and not (yet) able to make peace with my body so that I can finally lose this weight and keep it off.