I’ve been asked a few times recently how I lost a few pounds so I think I can fill you in on how I did it. Spoiler alert: it is not rocket science.
*Also disclaimer: I am paraphrasing from what I learned from my nutritionist. So definitely don’t use any of my references as final fact.
I elicited the help of my amazing sister, Stacy, as she is a registered nutritionist. She had me track my food for a week. I used myfitnesspal.com (and there’s an app too) to capture every little thing I put into my body. Turns out some of those little things are the biggest calorie offenders.
Stacy wanted to get an idea of quantities, where I was getting my calories and if I was taking in too many of them. From her analysis, she surmised that I was snacking too much. She told me something to the effect of “Do you know your snacks are the equivalent of another meal?” I was eating A LOT of dried fruit and nuts. She pointed out that raisins, for example, have potassium but otherwise eating too many overrides the nutritional value, and yet I was treating them like a staple in my diet. I had them with almonds for one of my afternoon snacks as well as in one of the veggie dishes I was eating for lunch.
Here is what my typical diet was:
Breakfast: Paleo oatmeal (egg whites, full egg, almond milk, flax seed and banana cooked with a little almond butter)
Morning snack: Grapes/berries
Lunch: Cooked broccoli dish with sundried tomatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic. Cauliflower pilaf with almonds, raisins, coconut flakes and dried apricots
1st afternoon snack: a whole lot of almonds with raisins and occasionally coconut flakes
2nd afternoon snack: vegan protein shake
Dinner: Salad (with carrots, sun dried tomatoes, onions, avocado, dates and oil with pepper and salt as dressing)
Stacy quickly saw I was getting a lot of unnecessary calories not just from the almonds and raisins but also the coconut oil I was cooking it with. Dates (oh how I love them) are hundreds of calories. So having a few of those in a salad was adding to my dried fruit downfall. She suggested making a few tweaks and said that if I am snacking that much that I am not getting full from my meals.
Here is what she recommended tweaking:
- For lunch, no more of that cauliflower pilaf. Replace it with something like carrot sticks and homemade hummus. (which I now make just using low sodium garbanzo beans, a drizzle of EOO, squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper)
- Ditch the 1st afternoon snack. Meals should keep me full for 3 hours so I only need one. I could stick with the protein shake
- For dinner, as much as I want those dates, they are not going to help me lose weight. Instead of using the olive oil as dressing I could mix less than half an avocado into a paste and combine with sun dried tomatoes (it’s in a jar with oil so that replaces the EOO). I use that to coat my lettuce, onions, carrots, tomatoes or whatever veggies I have on hand
Stacy told me she rather I eat as much veggies and fresh fruit as I want as opposed to the dried stuff. Eating 10 dried apricots is the equivalent of 5 whole apricots and really, who eats that in one sitting?
Another great tip she gave me is that people often mistake thirst for hunger. So before I go grabbing for a snack, I should drink water.
Every body is different. I am by no means an expert on nutrition (I will leave that to my sister and other professionals). I am the type of person that will stick with the same foods for years and not get bored. Ask my friends (aka the Lunch Girls) back from my Jersey City working days. I ate a veggie burger religiously every day. The thing though is when I got to the point (aka when I got the body scan results) I realized that my diet was not working for me anymore. I was getting into bad habits and doing them daily. I needed to change them. I don’t miss the offenders as much as I thought I would. (although I confess I do snack a lot more than I should on almond butter. Someone please take me to Almond Butter Anonymous!) Sometimes the best things are good things in moderation. My sister, my very own nutritionist, threw a few dried cranberries in my salad for dinner once and I was appalled. “A few cranberries aren’t going to kill you.” So I also realized the importance of balancing a healthy diet with not having to live it 100% of the time.