I have a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition, a year of internship training, I’ve achieved advanced certifications in my field, and have years of working experience. So what do I do when I need to lose weight? Welcome to a simple diet plan. In future articles, I will go more in depth on some other pieces to consider. They are the parts I put into place after I get past the initial dieting sucks mentality.
How does a dietitian diet?
This is what I’ve used to build a simple diet plan for my preferences (a little lazy, a lot busy, and a social life I want to keep). You are welcome to try it out, or you may find there are parts you like and parts that don’t work so well for you. Take what you like, leave the rest, or implement it all if you are in a hurry. If you have similar priorities, hopefully this will help you too.
First the Simple Changes
(or at least simple to explain)
- No alcohol except Friday and Saturday night and special occasions
- Lots of water (1-2 glasses in the morning, 1 after exercising, 1 with meals, 1 before I drink anything else).
- Exercise daily, 30 minute minimum. This can be done in 3 bouts of 10-15 minutes each. 7-10 minutes strength, 15 minutes on the spin bike, 10-15 minutes yoga or all at once if the day allows. I also try to get in extra walking and movement throughout the day in addition to this. Working towards 10,000 or 15,000 steps a day.
- Sleep better. For me the best bedtime is 9 pm. I may plan to read another hour or so in the hopes it gets me sleeping by 10 pm. Getting up at 6 am gives me 8 hours sleep. I’ve read 7.5 is a better number, so I may experiment a little. I am not (NOT!!!) a morning person. (Editor/husband: she isn’t!!)
- Weigh myself daily. You can argue the benefit or not of doing this, but I’ve found it helps me to be accountable. I know my weight goes up and down throughout the week (especially if I go out to a restaurant the day before). I keep track of this and use it as motivation.
Now the Simple Diet Part
I like to keep it as simple as possible because I’m lazy. It’s an honest answer. I also like my freedom and refuse to follow an eating plan that would prevent me from enjoying my life with my friends and family. I also don’t believe in good or bad foods. Food is food. Some choices are healthier than others. I just don’t believe in the magic of eliminating entire food groups. I’ve known plenty of heavy people who ate (and swore) by different theories. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Most of the time it worked until they gave up because the meal plan was too restrictive.
This is what I do because it works for me. It will likely work for you to. But really, in the end any diet can work. Simplicity helps because the only diets that keep the weight off are the ones you can follow in the long run.
I like to do a daily Calorie Limit. Usually I would aim for 1200-1600 Calories per day. This isn’t much, but I usually prefer to be stricter to get results faster. What this looks like for me:
- Breakfast: 300 Calories
- Lunch: 400 Calories
- Snack: 300 Calories
- Dinner: 400 Calories
If I can keep dinner and lunch to 300 Calories too, I try to do that. On the other hand, if I am feeling really hungry another day, I may add 100 Calories to a couple of the meals.
If you are bigger, more active, or a guy. You may want to aim higher. Think 1800-2400, like below:
- Breakfast: 400-600 Calories
- Lunch: 500-600 Calories
- Snack: 400-600 Calories
- Dinner: 500-600 Calories
With each meal I have protein. I try to eat more vegetables and fiber to keep me fuller longer and I limit the amount of Carbs I have at dinner.
This is easy to do with packaged foods where you can read the label. For meals I cook at home or I have out, I eat half my normal portion. Or I keep the protein the size of my palm, grains half the size of my fist, vegetables the size of my fist. Generally any meal eaten out is lunch or dinner where I have the larger Calorie allotment. I go from there and adjust portions based on my results.
The reason I like to do it this way is that I want to be able to eat wherever life takes me. At home I can eat an egg, toast, and fruit with my kids (that was what my kids voted for breakfast this morning, plus some coffee mama voted for!). I still go out with friends and family, and can eat out at a fast food restaurant (I do have 3 little kids and a lot going on). I know going to restaurants elevates my weight the following day (they use a lot of salt), but to counter it, I just double up on my water. Even with these consequences, I want to live my life on my terms and not have it center on a diet.
I never keep detailed notes on what I eat. That goes to the lazy thing I mentioned earlier. At most I may keep a calendar: forward slash on a day means I exercised, backslash means I followed my eating plan, and “X” means I did both. If I’m focused, I just write my weight down weekly — usually on Monday morning to help with keeping me accountable over the weekend. If I’m not focused, I don’t even write it down. Those days, it just wasn’t my priority. If I decide to look back a month later, then empty spaces then become an “ah-ha” moment. Which also serves as a reminder to get my butt in gear if I want things to be different next month.
If I’m doing some specific training (running, weight training) I’ll keep more detailed notes on that to track gains. That is more about achieving training goals than it is about weight loss though. I like to train with purpose.
After the Start Gun Fires
Meanwhile… the hardest part for me has always been keeping myself busy once I’m just a little hungry and not feeding my fat cells. One thing I do know is that hunger will pass (see Dieting Sucks). My stomach will adjust and I will get used to the feeling of cutting down. It takes a week or so. I also know I’d rather do it fast instead of cutting back little by little each week. It’s my personality.
How to keep busy? Currently, I’m experimenting with meditation, a totally fascinating subject. Then there’s yoga, dance, reading, cleaning, painting my nails, reading to my kids. So much in this world to do…the funny part is that I actually started a paragraph with “how to keep busy”. I never thought I would actually utter that one aloud.
I look at starting an eating plan (or getting back on track with one) as similar to ripping off a bandaid; do you prefer slow or fast? Both ways work and there are benefits to each, but it’s still just a personal preference.