Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eating Regular Food on a Diet

When I used to think of dieting and watching what I eat, I always thought that you had to have basic simple foods to succeed. But, I always knew that for me to succeed at losing and maintaining my weight, I needed to be able to eat what everyone else was eating, including casseroles, pasta dishes, lasagna and other recipes. I wanted to continue to provide flavor and variety for my family and not wind up cooking two meals.

The hardest part for me on any diet is figuring out how many calories (or in the case of being on Weight Watchers, Points) are in a dish. You know, it's easy to determine the calories in a piece of chicken or in a cup of pasta, but what happens when it's all blended together and cooked? I have tried on my own to count up all the component calories and divide it into the number of servings to estimate the calories in what I am eating and I can tell you that it is very difficult to do. Not only do you wind up with thousands of calories, plus if you are looking at fat grams and such, there is even more to track, but you also spend a lot of time looking up how many calories are in things like 2 Tbsp flour or 1/4c sugar or in a banana - items where there's not normally a label to check readily available.

One trick I found for figuring this out are recipes sites, like Recipe Zaar, and recipe software, which will provide some nutritional information for you. For long recipes, this was easier than trying to do it on my own.

With Weight Watchers, when I started using the eTools, I found another tool that works and that I really like. It is the Recipe Builder on eTools. With Recipe Builder, I am able to build a recipe by entering each ingredient and the amount, enter a number of servings and it provides the point information per serving. That makes it so much easier for me to succeed.

I also like how easy I can adjust the serving count on the Recipe Builder. If I build a recipe of a favorite dish and split it into 6 servings and I find that the Points are higher than I would like to eat for a meal, then I can adjust and make it 8 servings. This way, I can still enjoy all of my family favorites, in healthy portions that fit into my daily/weekly points.

Another great feature is that it provides substitution recommendations. Now, I have already done this with many favorites, replacing the cream with milk, using a little lemon juice instead of oil when I am cooking up the dish, etc. in an effort to reduce the calories and make the dish healthier. But, if I haven't or I have and still would like to reduce the Points in my dish, I can reference this list for ideas on how I might be able to reduce the Points.

Knowing that I can prepare a normal menu for my family and eat with them, works for me.

For more tips and tricks, check out Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.

I received no compensation for this post. I did receive complimentary online access to eTools so that I could experience it and share my experiences.


Melissa said...

Great tips on where to figure out recipes. Thanks!