Looking for a diet plan

I’d like some help changing the way I eat. Four years ago, I lost a lot of weight on a low-carb diet, but failed to make a good transition from “weight-loss eating mode” to “every day eating mode”, and eventually gained it all back.

I now want to get in the habit of eating well for both better nutrition and weight loss. You Are What You Eat was on BBCA this morning, and while I think Gillian McKeith is kind of a crackpot, I like the look of her food and her diet plan. Unfortunately, signing up for a diet plan on her website is expensive (for what it sounds like you get), and I’m not convinced there aren’t other free or less-expensive resources out there.

So what I’m looking for is
[li]a meal plan with at least a couple of week’s worth of different recipes[/li][li]with a weekly grocery list[/li][li]composed of more-or-less natural foods (no low-fat or low-sugar “diet” foods)[/li][/ul]
Any good resources, or thoughts on what I’m trying to do here?

Easiest solution I know:

(1) You already touched on this, but stay away from as much processed food as possible. Eat whole foods when you can (whole grains and the like) and go for whatever the least amount of processing you can.

(2) Quit thinking of it as a diet plan. This is just how you eat. Period. It’s only a diet in the sense of a diet being what you consume, not a restricted variation on what you would normally eat. This is normal now.

(3) Go running and lift some weights.

(4) My time tested method, handed down from generation to generation of women in my family and I’ve mentioned it on this board before: put the fucking fork down. Harsh? Yes. But it works. Search online (I will do it for you if I can quickly) for what a real portion is and get that in your head. Make sure you are not eating healthy only to be consuming 2 portions worth at each sitting. Eat slowly until you are starting to feel full, then put the fucking fork down.

ETA: I meant to say that I know this isn’t exactly what you are looking for but anything that is going to involve you creating a special food plan can overwhelm you and if you do get that way and hit too much of it at one time you’ll eventually walk away because it’s too much work. This is not you, you - I meant the abstract you. Also wanted to add that (4) is meant to be a bit humorous. I’m serious, but not trying to be mean. You are doing a good thing for yourself.

I can not recommend Weight Watchers more. It’s cheap compared to a lot of other diet plans, you don’t need to buy their foods, and you can do it online or at meetings.

I don’t know if they’ll provide grocery lists, since I eat normal food. The same food I always ate, just in different amounts. Their eTools on the website may be able to help you there.

Here’s a handy dandy calculator that tells you how to amend your daily intake based on how fast you want to lose. Be honest!

Cannot stress too highly getting rid of processed food. If nothing else, the extra time spent walking around your kitchen preparing meals is time you aren’t sitting around doing nothing. Double or triple your fiber intake.

Go vegetarian three or four days a week, it’s a cheap and easy way to drop pounds. Good for the environment, too.

Whatever exercise you get now, double it. Then triple it. Either by spending more time doing what you already do, or by doing it harder or faster. Find other methods of exercise that get along with your body type and fitness level. Bicycling and swimming can be done by almost anybody and are excellent methods of burning calories. Bikram yoga is good for your body and your head–highly recommended.

There is no such thing as a “diet.” Either you eat right or you eat wrong. End of story. There is no time period aside from “the rest of your life.” Get used to this concept and make it an integral part of your mental furniture. You don’t eat something because you’re “on a diet,” you don’t eat it because it’s bad for you.

There you go–pretty much all you need to know in order to lose weight and keep it off. The only variable is how committed you want to be.

I’m going to sound like a dick. I know I am.

But, why do you need a weekly recipe plan and grocery list? You’re still heavily into eating, for its own sake.

Eat for fuel, not fun. Go out once a month to eat for fun. The rest of the time, eat for fuel. Lean, steamed or boiled chicken breast or fish, steamed veggies with some lemon & herbs. Add some pasta or rice if you’re exercising, which I’m guessing you’re not.

Snack on celery.

It really sounds like you want to eat. A lot. But, you want it to make you lose weight. Ain’t gonna happen. You don’t have time to make wonderful, healthy, lean meals that will magically make you lose weight while making you feel pleasurable. It’s like smoking a cigarette that isn’t, you know, a cigarette. They’ve tried, but they haven’t made one yet.

Food doesn’t equal, “this tastes great!” Not until you relearn your eating habits. A glass of water tastes great, but only after you kick your Mountain Dew habit.

I came in to recommend Weight Watchers as well (I hate bookkeeping so I’ve been doing their “Core” program for several years and it works great for me. No counting, no points, no noting stuff down). Pretty much what everyone else has said so far I agree with, particularly ShelliBean and especially her point #2. All of my friends who have gone on a “diet” meaning that they temporarily alter their eating habits have lost some amount of weight which they promptly put right back on when they abandoned that diet and went back to their old eating habits. It’s all about the mindset.

Think of it as a permanent lifestyle change, both on what/how much you eat as well as how active you are.

FWIW, Weight Watchers has tons of recipe books, menus, weekly suggestions and so on. If you go to the meetings you’ll also get many ideas from the other folks.

ShelliBean, you understand what I’m looking for. I eat whole foods when I can, but it takes more time than eating whatever’s convenient. That’s why I want to minimize my own excuses for not eating right (it takes too long; I don’t know what to make) by having recipes at hand, and the ingredients in my fridge and pantry.

I totally agree that thinking of a new way of eating as a weight loss diet is the wrong approach. I mean “diet” as in “what I eat” not as in “scheme to lose weight”. It will be what I normally eat.

levdrakon, settle the fuck down. I’m not sure how you deduce my being a emotional glutton from the OP. And I’m sorry you’re convinced that changing the way I eat has to be an ultimate test of will, devoid of any pleasure. I’m not looking for magic calorie-free food to ram down my gullet while magically shedding pounds. I’m looking for a way to formalize the way I want to eat, but often find myself without ideas and a good set of recipes.

Valgard, GingerOfTheNorth, thanks for the Weight Watchers recommendation. To be honest, I thought that was just eating their packaged meals (“and a sensible snack”) and going to meetings. But I’ll definitely look at it more closely.

Consider becoming vegan. Recent studies on the effects of vegan diets on type II diabetes revealed a surprising benefit—namely that 95% of all vegans can eat whatever they want and not become overweight. They don’t have to make any effort whatsoever to count calories or monitor portion size. I’ll see if I can dig up some cites for you if you’re interested.

I immediately start losing weight every time I just adhere to the following simple restrictions: no mammal’s meat, sucrose, or alcohol, and eat to the satiety point and stop. This alone I feel is sufficient for a sizeable percentage of the population, particularly active men under the age of forty.

I apologize. I really do. I knew I was going to hurt feelings. I’ve just lived with so many people who’ve struggled with weight. Planning meals is like me picking a different brand of cigarettes.

As someone who likes food and likes to eat well, I disagree with “food=fuel”.

As someone who lost 50 lbs. and have kept it all off for 2-1/2 years now and counting, I will say that you do not have to sacrifice good food in the name of getting and keeping trim.

What you need to do first and foremost is learn how to maintain your calorie balance. This means learning about calories counts, and figuring out what your body needs to stay the way it is. Eat less, but not a ton less than that if you’re losing weight, and eat just about that much when you get to where you want to be.

A corollary to being able to do this is to learn what hunger is, and only eat when you’re hungry. Not because it’s time to eat, and not because you’re bored or because something sounds or smells good. Only eat when you’re hungry, and then, eat something you like that keeps to the calorie profile you are trying to maintain. You’ll know you’re doing it right if roughly every 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours you find yourself wanting to eat. At that point, eat just enough that you don’t need to eat any more.

The way I trained myself to do this was to take a normal (American) portion sized meal that I would eat for lunch, such as a hero sandwich from a deli plus a bag of chips, but only eat half of it at one sitting and then to busy myself with something absorbing. I found I’d totally forget about eating the rest of it in about 15 minutes, but about 3 hours later I’d be pretty hungry. Bingo!

A corollary to this corollary is that you need to find likable substitutes for high calories foods you routinely consume. For example, 1% light cheese instead of regular, full-fat cheese, and egg whites instead of whole eggs, and whole grain bread and pasta instead of white. Diet soda instead of sugared soda goes without saying (learning to like to drink mostly water, or seltzer if you like fizzy drinks like I do, is even better). Mustard instead of mayonnaise. A drizzle of olive oil instead of a pat of butter. Baked potato chips instead of deep fried ones. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how much an impact simple, barely noticeable food choices like this can make on your net calorie count.

It’s also much easier to eat a normal amount of food, and get away with the occasional rich or processed food, if you exercise more. Walk/run at least 30 minutes at a time 3 times a week, make that 5 times while you’re actively trying to lose weight, and do some kind of weight training to maintain muscle mass (I find that just doing pushups, pullups and ab crunches “to failure” 3 times a week is enough – plus you’ll be surprised how quickly you can do a lot more pushups than you ever have in your life!)

Finally, while I let myself eat “cheat foods” all the time while losing weight (potato chips, french fries, ice cream, etc.), I made sure my weekly calorie balance always netted to what I needed it to be, and more importantly, never “pigged out”. You should never violate Rules #1 and #2: keeping track of your net calories, and not eating when you’re not hungry. Add in an increase in exercise and the rest will likely take care of itself.

My feelings aren’t hurt, you just misunderstand the situation.

I know how I want to eat (the diet I’ve been describing). I know how I need to eat to be healthy. I know there are no quick fixes or shortcuts. All I’m looking for is some tools to help me, nothing magic.

Given unlimited time and ingredients to experiment with, I could come up with my own recipes, my own nutritionally balanced meals, and my own grocery lists. I don’t have unlimited time, and for me, this makes a convenient excuse to put it off for a while longer, and eat right (whole, natural foods) less often than I eat conveniently.

So, I’m going to eat a diet based on natural, whole foods. Probably vegetarian-leaning, probably not totally vegan. All I’m looking for is a set of recipes and meal plans to get me started.

The only thing I can’t handle about her show (other than her odd obsession with “poo”) is how unhealthy she looks. I’m not sure I want her to tell me what I should eat, but she definitely gets results. I know I couldn’t live with her diet for more than a week, though; I hate most vegetables and fruits.

Have you checked out the South Beach Diet? It’s a considerably modified low-carb diet developed by a cardiologist that includes fruit and vegetables and some grains. You can also just buy the book (which is probably in a lot of secondhand shops or on clearance tables by now) and not have to pay for any prepared meals or website fol-de-rol. I believe there are supplemental books (recipe books, glycemic index books, and so forth) that you can get by without. It’s healthier and more realistic than Atkins IMO but still pretty strict.

I am completely in sympathy with your struggle. I actually love whole foods, but I rarely have the time or interest in preparing something that takes longer than 10 minutes, so I end up eating whatever is easy and/or portable. I usually eat when I’m working, and it’s hard to type and eat a salad at the same time.

The CSIRO, the main government funded scientific body in Australia, have produced 2 books that are based on their dietary research. You can download the original 16 page brochure here. It contains most of the gist of the programme and a two week meal plan and a few recipes.

I think this is a depressing way to live. I love food. I’m a total foodie. I love eating, cooking, drinking, everything. Yet I still lost 20 pounds over the last three months simply by being a little more careful with what I eat, drink, and, most importantly, adding weight training and running into my regimen. You can still eat food that tastes good and lose weight, but you have to teach yourself proper portioning, and you do have to learn to say no to your junk food cravings.

Bolding mine. I totally agree with this. Obviously, every individual is different and will respond differently to various foods. I’m one of those people seriously affected by carbs. When I experimented with a low-carb diet, it really worked for me. IMO the best way to learn what affects you is to keep a food diary. It doesn’t have to be overly detailed. Just jot down what you eat, and rough portion sizes. Weigh yourself frequently (every day or other day) and try and correlate it to what you’ve been eating. You’ll get an idea of what foods affect your weight. Once you know what foods to avoid or to eat little of, you can plan recipes accordingly. There are recipe books for all kinds of ways of eating. Don’t be extreme or it will be tough to maintain.

Sparkpeople is a great way to track calories. They have tons of recipes and daily meal plans. It’s helped me more than I can tell you, and it’s free. Just look at it, try the food tracking for a week. It’s more realistic than a regimented plan, and more maintainable in the long run.

Better not to think about weight loss as a diet. Others have said it, but when losing weight you can’t restrict the things you eat or you’ll feel deprived. It’s mostly little changes and substitutions. I’ve lost 50 pounds since April but I’m not on a diet, it’s just the way I live now.

I agree with Robardin. I love food and love to eat, food is a source of pleasure to me and can never simply be fuel. And that’s okay - for me. I really feel like everyone has to find their own “right answer” for weight loss, there is no one size fits all plan.

I lost 70 lbs and have kept it off for nearly 4 years and I eat a lot of food that I like every day (I eat about every 2 hours). My approach was a combination of calorie counting (portion control complete with a food scale and measuring cups), volumetrics (high fiber foods with low calorie value) and whole foods (eating foods with powerful nutritional properties and avoiding food with minimal nutritional value).

I like to cook but it has been a challenge to find healthy recipes. I would recommend the Cooking Light website, there is a lot of good stuff there. The internet is a really good research, there are literally thousands of good, healthy recipes at your fingertips!

I did like the Superfoods Rx book (the first one), several of the recipes from that book have made it into my rotation of “favorites.”

Now that I’m maintaining my weight loss, I still eat very carefully (still food journal, calorie estimate, meal plan, measure) but I have a weekly treat meal where I drink a glass of wine and split a dessert. I might not eat fast food or chips, but my life isn’t deprived.

Weight Watchers. I’ve lost 16 pounds over the last 8 weeks on it. You don’t have to go to meetings. You don’t have to buy their special food. In fact, I’m not even eating “diet” foods at all. I’ve just been eating less of what I normally do and cutting out a few things that are particularly bad (french fries, for example).

Regarding exercise (and there is no point discussing diets, eating, and maintaining weight without it) - exercise is a chore to me, and it will never be anything else. If you are like me, forget everyone telling you, “Just find something you like and you’ll enjoy it.” Not gonna happen. Exercising is like flossing my teeth - I don’t like it, but I have to do it. I don’t give myself a day off - I try to find some exercise every single day (usually taking a walk). I just do it and get it over with and get on with my day.

Precisely. I started calculating my points on the Weight Watchers plan on 10/14; I’ve already lost enough weight that it’s noticeable (I don’t weigh myself, so I can’t get more specific.). Like Pochacco, I eat “everyday” foods, which is great. I feel that’s what makes it a lifestyle change rather than a diet; I’m not denying myself any tastes. The key is portion control & the fact that you’re forced to make choices.

For example, a burger made with regular beef & a bun is around nine points; I may want to eat half & store half so that I’ll be able to use 4.5 points on other food, or I may want to eat the whole thing & have steamed veggies instead of fries as a side so I can have a few cookies later that night. I wouldn’t stick with a plan in which I wouldn’t be allowed certain foods.

If I’m out at a restaurant I try to both make healthier choices & box up half the food. As for special food: I have a box or two of Weight Watchers brand cookies in my cupboard, but that’s just for when I don’t feel like calculating points.

Another change that I made is that I get off my behind & actually exercise - mostly weight training. I try to do at least a half hour every other day.

Good luck, whichever road you take!