Learn How To Cook For Better Success With Weight Loss

Kimberley is an awesome cook.  Here she has prepared a special yet simple low calorie meal that was absolutely delicious.

Kimberley is an awesome cook. Here she has prepared a special yet simple low calorie meal that was absolutely delicious.

I’ve been preparing my own food since high school

This is Roberta up first and I’m writing this with Kimberley; I’ve been preparing my own food since high school.  It’s just what I do.  I packed my food during my long career at Hewlett Packard, while working a stressful job, driving long commutes, finishing school, continuing to workout, and raising kids.

One thing I did not have a clue about was calories which is why I gained weight slowly over the years.  I know I’m aging myself here but they did not have awesome calorie counting tools back in that day, let alone computers and the internet.

When you learn to prepare your own food you learn what spices you like and what combinations of foods you like.  You learn that with the same basic staples you can create something simple every day and keep things interesting with spices.

I like to fill up with low calorie high volume foods like vegetables and fruits

People ask me why I eat so many vegetables, doesn’t it bother my stomach?

Or, if calories are all that matter why do I eat so healthy?

I like to fill up with low calorie high volume fruits and vegetables because it makes me feel good.  I pick vegetables that don’t bother my stomach.  Sometimes I just want to feel full.  High volume low calorie is the only way I can do it and stay within budget.

With such a small calorie budget I have to make the calories count. In order to feel good and perform well I need nutrient rich foods.

Learning to listen to your body is key on this journey.  Home prepared foods made with simple ingredients make me feel better.  One ingredient foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, chicken, or fish in various combinations along with different spices are best for me.

I eat a big salad nearly every day, and usually a fruit salad if my calorie budget allows it.

I didn’t eat fruit so much in my weight loss phase when I lost 60 pounds. This was because I am small and it was harder to fit it into my small calorie budget.  Like everyone else there is always a tradeoff on ingredients;  Do I have a higher calorie protein OR avocado, or a lower calorie protein AND the avocado?

I still have to consider the tradeoff while maintaining but I had to give up more when I had a lot of fat to lose.  In the weight loss phase if I planned well I might have been able to fit one serving of fruit or one serving of grain each day, sometimes both.

Spice it up

I never buy salad dressing and have found it’s super easy to make my own low calorie versions without all the strange ingredients.  I just look at the bottle and see what real ingredients are used and make my own version, usually without the oil.  I’ve experimented with spices and various ingredients and on occasion it might not turn out so well but that is how I learned.

Sometimes just fresh squeezed lemon or vinegar, water, and some spices are all that’s needed.  Sometimes water, a splash of tomato soup, and some horseradish hits the spot for a dressing, especially if seafood is on the menu.

Spice rubs for meat and vegetables are also a low calorie way of adding a lot of flavor.  You can get pre-made mixes from the supermarket and feel like you are eating in a different country every day.

The key is finding a variety of things you like so you can change it up when you get bored.

When you prepare your own food you have better control of your calories

The biggest benefit in preparing your own food when trying to lose weight is better control of what you eat.

Another benefit is making sure your less calories really count so they fuel your body both resting and working hard.

A friend recently told me about someone they knew who could prepare his own food for a fitness contest, a sort of boring contest diet of something like plain chicken and broccoli, but didn’t know how to eat when “off season” so sort of floundered with staying at a good maintenance weight.

First of all I refuse to eat a boring diet.  Spice and fun food combinations are what make my diet fun.  By cooking for myself all these years I have found what I like.

When it comes to my diet, for either maintaining or weight loss, I don’t really plan much except to purchase a variety of lower calorie foods, good protein sources, and only a small amount calorie dense foods (just enough to add richness and satisfaction). Then I eat whatever I feel like for the day, keeping in mind what I had during the last meal regarding carbohydrates or protein.

I eat just enough carbohydrates and protein to give me enough energy, and the fats just fall into place.  Others might want to focus on protein, fat, vegetables and fruits and let carbohydrates fall into place.  The key is to find what is sustainable for you.

It does not have to be perfect.  I don’t drive myself crazy worrying about macro levels.  I keep it simple.  By being aware of what I’m eating while making choices throughout the day it falls in place as fairly balanced and within my calorie budget.

Blissfully ignorant – the real science of food

Most of us can resist a food that is sweet, salty or fatty but combine the three in the right amounts and you find you have very little willpower to resist.  This magic formula is called the ‘bliss point‘ by food scientists.

Food manufacturers and restaurant chains are well aware of the bliss point of foods and deliberately design their products to give the broadest range of the population the greatest pleasure.

Foods based on bliss point act as drugs that stimulate feel good chemicals in your brain like dopamine.  It encourages us to keep eating, and it encourages to be addicted to certain foods.

If you have ever wondered why you cannot put down the peanut butter and are compelled to keep eating, it is because of the feel good factor we have from being in bliss.  This does not mean you should avoid peanut butter, packaged foods and restaurants, it is just a gentle reminder to be aware of what you are eating, and when you are focused on weight loss a better strategy will be to limit these blissful foods.

The perils of eating out

Most of us eat out frequently with an average American adult having over 1/3 of their meals away from home.  Eating out is quick, it is easy and it is mostly enjoyable.  However women that eat out regularly eat about 300 calories per day more than their home cooking peers.  That can add up to a lot of extra poundage over the course of a year.

Packaged food from the supermarket all come with calorie and nutrition data.  This should help with guesstimating calories.  However, often the weight of the serving size is significantly lower than the actual product.  I just recently I decided to weigh a box of 60 gram protein bars.  The 12 bars ranged in weight from 62 grams to 72 grams.  That means I could be eating 20% more calories that I expected.

Recently many chain restaurants have started to provide calorie data.  However spot checks have shown that while some restaurants are reasonably accurate, some are underestimating the calories by up to 60%.

This does not mean you should not keep enjoying a lovely meal at a restaurant.  Instead you may choose to do it less often and when you do, be aware that it may very well be more calories than you think.

Recipes are a great place to start

Using simple recipes is a great place to start.  I rarely use recipes anymore but Kimberley and some of the other ladies in the Venus Community have a beautiful collection of recipes and they love to share them with us.

Here are some very simple recipes.  Cooking at home does not have to be difficult, and making larger batch sizes for reheating can provide for multiple meals.

Kimmits’ Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

12 large prawns / shrimp

1/2 cup shredded Chinese cabbage (wombok)

1/2 cup beansprouts

1 small red bell pepper thinly sliced

1 small cucumber thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves

1 lime juiced

1 TBSP fish sauce

12 rice paper wrappers

Step 1: Combine beansprouts, cabbage, lime juice and fish sauce

Step 2: Place 1 rice paper wrapper in warm water for 20 seconds (until soft).  Place on clean tea towel to drain.

Step 3: Arrange 1.5 TBSP of beansprout mix, 2 slices of cucumber and bell pepper, herbs and 1 prawn in the middle of the wrapper.  fold in ends and roll to enclose filling.  Repeat with other 11 wrappers.

Serve with sweet chilli sauce.  Serves 4 as a starter or lunch.

Liss’s slow cooked Tex Mex chicken

2.2lb / 1kg of chicken breast fillet

1 large jar of your favorite spicy salsa

1 diced onion

2 diced green bell peppers

Optional: 1 tsp of cumin and smoked paprika / chipotle

Step 1: Place all ingredients in a crock pot on low

Step 2: Cook for up to 12 hours until chicken is ready to be pulled apart

Serves 6 and makes great reheated left overs for the rest of the week.  This can be served in tacos or tortillas or with a kidney bean and corn salad or even over lettuce.

Kimmits’ 5 minute berries with butterscotch custard

1 cup of low fat / 2% milk

1.5 TBSP Mr Bird’s custard powder

1 TBSP of Truvia

1 TBSP Joseph’s SF maple syrup

8 drops of butterscotch Stevia

Mixed berries to serve

Step 1: Prepare custard according to directions on packet

Step 2; Arrange berries in the bottom of a bowl and pour hot custard on top.

Serves 2.

Cooking for your family and with your family is beneficial to all

I love cooking for my husband.  I like it even better when I can get him involved in helping me cook.  When I have family members and friends over I love to get anyone who is willing involved with helping prepare the meal.

I love cooking for Randy.  Here I am preparing him an omelet for a TV documentary.

I love cooking for Randy. Here I am preparing him an omelet in a TV documentary.

I really do enjoy cooking for Randy although I will admit there were days when I was fasting that it was too hard to cook for him.  For the most part I’ve found that my willpower is stronger in the morning before I’ve taken on the stress of the day.

However many of us do not have the option of not cooking for our family so it may be helpful to think about aligning your food and fasting with family meals.  For example if dinner time is important and you typically have low willpower at this time, then fast dinner to dinner.

Learning to cook with lower calorie substitutes may also be useful.  For example a steak, broccoli and sweet potato dinner may be 450 calories, whereas the same volume of chicken, roasted pumpkin and french beans may be 320 calories.

I think most of the moms in the Venus Index Community understand the importance of teaching their kids about food and learning to have healthy eating habits for life.

By cooking for and eating with your family you are role modelling your new habits and behaviors.  You are teaching them how to make good food choices.

Happy cooking!




About Roberta Saum

Roberta is a 56 year young Elite Trainer at 1st Phorm. She achieved her fitness dream at age 50 here at The Venus Factor. She is a Fitness Consultant/Motivator for Hopelessly Romantic Media Productions, Venus Factor Coach, Product Developer, Brand Ambassador, Contest Administrator, Author, Editor in Chief for the Venus Factor, and 1st Phorm Ambassador.

More about Coach Roberta

Facebook comments:

Speak Your Mind