I will say this until I'm blue in the face - "Healthy Food Does Not Taste Bad!!!"
Cutting down to 1200 calories a day is a challenge, no doubt! I say that's what I ate, but in reality, some days I went over. But for the most part, I stuck with it, and here is how...
I absolutely love to cook. If you haven't noticed, I have a cooking blog as well. That's my real baby, this one is just to keep myself motivated, and for you to hold me accountable to hitting my -100 lb. weight loss goal!
I have always loved to cook, and that has been very beneficial to me in the weight loss process. When I was 12, I decided to become a vegetarian. And while my mother cooked for me most nights, sometimes she just told me to look up vegetarian recipes and make them myself. Thanks goodness for that, because that's when my love of cooking really developed.
If you're not a good cook, or you don't like to, stop and think about why.
Is it because you aren't confident? You're not creative with food? You don't know much about it? Those are all great reasons, but they can be overcome!
You don't have to be creative to be a good cook. Some people follow recipes to a T, and that makes them a great cook. I like to learn about ingredients and then find others that will contrast or compliment, I like to experiment.
If you are truly going to lose weight, it's going to be very hard to do it without spending some time in the kitchen! Restaurants are great, but they find ways to sneak fat and calories in the most seemingly healthy foods. When you cook for yourself, you control it all!
My #1 recommendation - subscribe to Cooking Light.
Every month it's chock full of recipes that vary from quick and simple to a little more intense, but could be used for entertaining or holidays.
Magazines are also great because they're seasonal, so you're able to cook with tons of produce that is in season, which means it's cheaper and fresher.
-ALWAYS measure, until you know exactly how much 1 tbsp. is, measure it
I still measure my oatmeal every morning, rice at dinner, etc.
-Pay attention to serving sizes!
-Fat free doesn't mean low-cal, since I don't eat much fat anyway, I count calories!!!
Here is how I spend my 1200 calories on an average day:
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
Splash of skim milk
1 tbsp. sugar free maple syrup
2 c. of coffee with a splash of fat free/ no sugar added creamer
Total Calories: 200
1 piece of fruit (apple, banana, pear, mango, whatever is in season)
2 servings of veggies (carrot sticks, snap peas, cucumber)
1 tbsp. fat free sour cream mixed with 1 tsp. ranch dip seasoning
1 yoplait light yogurt
Iced tea with a splenda
Total Calories: 250
4 chicken meatballs, 6 oz. of meat
2 servings of asparagus
1 serving of pasta
Total Calories: 700
1 serving of fruit
(2 c. watermelon, 1/2 c. sliced strawberries, 1/2 c. frozen raspberries)
Total Calories: 50
Dinner is done a little differently, I change it up every night, obviously, but I stick with a certain plan, which is 1 protein, 1 starch, and 2-3 veggies. Of course there are add-ins, like cheese, sour cream, sauces, condiments, etc., but make sure you account for those calories, as well!
Most important - eat your veggies, and make sure your protein is lean! Also, whole grain starches are best!
You can find many different dinner ideas in my blog, but here is one pictured above
Now I'm sure I break some sort of diet rule by eating the bulk of my calories at dinner, but this is what works for me. If you're super hungry at lunch time, you can move the calories around, but I need a big meal when I get home from work. I also choose to exercise at night (around 8pm) that way I don't feel like the food is sitting in my stomach when I go to sleep.