Hello Scarlet! Thank you for your honest and open responses to our questions. Your diet history reveals a number of areas for improvement. Your daily food intake is about 3,000 calories and about 100 grams of fat. In order for you to lose weight, your calorie intake should be 1,800 calories and 40-50 grams of fat. A goal weight by the charts may be unrealistic for you, so I suggest you aim at 150 pounds and assess your body fat at that time.
Since you have a very physically demanding job, you may not need to cut calories harshly in order to see your weight change. I don’t think that a structured diet plan will fit your lifestyle. You have eating and food habits that greatly impact your calorie level. If you focus on these specific eating behaviors listed below, you will eat less fat and calories.
Week 1 Plan
- Cut out the sweets — You have quite a sweet tooth! Tastykakes or donuts for breakfast, candy for snacks twice a day, ice cream at night. You can significantly cut calories if you limit yourself to one sweet a day. This might sound generous for a weight loss plan, but it is better to slowly pull back from sweets than to quit “cold turkey” and then binge after four days.
- Improve your breakfast choices ? Given your job you probably get up and leave home early, and stop by a convenience store for breakfast. Your “junk food ” choices could be replaced by a bagel topped with a small amount of cream cheese. Buy a banana and carton of skim milk to snack on during the morning break. Better yet, eat breakfast at home, such as a bowl of high fiber cereal, with skim milk and fruit. Or, make an egg and toast sandwich to hold you for the morning.
- Pack your lunch — You can save a lot of money and fat calories by getting organized about your lunch. Those tuna sandwiches, hoagies and fries pack a lot of fats! It’s easy to join the crowd and eat like the men do – but a female’s body just can’t burn off all those calories.
I realize you may be quite hungry by lunchtime from working hard outside all day. Plan to have a selection of healthy foods for lunch — to fill you up and not plump you out. Make two turkey sandwiches (or low fat ham or roast beef, with low fat cheese) on whole wheat bread, using low fat mayonnaise or mustard. You may not eat both sandwiches at lunch, but you have some fall back if you are stuck at work later.
Include two pieces of fruit and some vegetables, such as baby carrots. Take some low fat yogurt, and a small bag of pretzel nuggets. You could prepare some low fat popcorn at home and take some to work every day. Don’t buy the bags of popped corn in the store. Their fat content and type is outrageous. The main point here is to start the week with plenty of food items at home to pack your lunch for the whole week. Don’t forget to take it with you as you rush out the door.
- Keep a food diary ? Please record your food and drink intake every day on the daily food diary form provided. Be careful to describe the portion size and any condiments you use that have calories. Every so often I will ask you to track something in addition to the actual foods.
- Track your hunger level — Please refer to the instructions on the food diary about “Hunger Levels.” Before you eat or snack, check in with your stomach to determine how hungry you really are. On a scale of 0 to 10 — 0 is starving, 3 ready to eat a meal, 5 neutral, 7 satisfied- not hungry, 10 overstuffed. After you’ve finished eating, record your level again. You may find you are more hungry for the first week or two, because you are cutting back, and you are also just thinking about food more often. This will settle down. We will be using this information later to make some other changes.
- Plan a reward — Every day you pack your lunch, you save a few dollars. How about putting $2 in a jar to save for a non-food reward. Is there something you need to buy yourself?
This is plenty to work on for now. Send in your questions, and I’ll review your food records next week and make more suggestions.