Running the numbers.

I am not a nutritionist. I am not a dietitian. I am just someone who's been overweight to varying degrees most of her life, who has tried most types of eating plans, and who continues to try to get to a healthy weight. At the moment, tracking my food on Weight Watchers tells me I get somewhere around 1000 and 1200 calories a day. What does that look like in food?

A few notes first:
  • I don't drink soft drinks. I used to drink Diet Coke, but I've cut that out, too. I drink water, and I have two mugs (which equates to 4 cups) of coffee in the morning, before 11am. I've added a cup of green tea most afternoons, with one packet of splenda and some lemon. Basically, my liquid is water, since I've eliminated wine from the menu for the foreseeable future. (*sob) I measure out my half-gallon of water every morning and refill my water bottle from that.
  • If you're familiar with WW points, there's a bank of points for the week to be used for splurges. I try to avoid that bank at all costs. I will tap my activity points during the week, but I try not to deplete those either.
  • I tend to want salt more than sugar. That means my weakness is chips over chocolate.
  • I have to force myself to eat breakfast. It's just not when I'm hungry, but I know it's important. I don't usually eat until around 9:30am.
  • I work from home. That means making an actual lunch is an option. Snacking through the day can be a blessing or a curse, depending on what's in the house.
All this is to say that the following notes on using daily calories work for me, and may give you ideas. But it's really important to know what will satisfy you, or you'll just spend your day obsessing about what you can't have, instead of finding appropriate ways to use the calories/points you have.

Anyway, assume you're spending about 1200 calories a day. One option is to roughly divide that into three meals, skimming a little off each for a snack at some point. Maybe 350 for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 150 for snack(s).

For me, I know that breakfast is costing me 60 calories for coffee creamer, right off the top. It's worth it to me. Most of the time I keep breakfast under 300 calories, because it's just not really my thing.
Breakfast Example #1
Instant Oatmeal packet, lower sugar, with a tsp of honey = 140 cal
1/2 Grapefruit = 40 cal
Creamer = 60 cal
TOTAL = 240 calories (6WW points)
Tradeoff: I know I'll need a midmorning snack, probably fruit, before lunch.

Breakfast Example #2
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowl (see review here) = 230 cal
Creamer = 60 cal
TOTAL = 290 calories (8WW points)

Breakfast Example #3
Greek yogurt (5-6 oz depending on flavor) = 100 cal
Special K cereal - 1/3 to 1/2 cup mixed with the yogurt = 50-100 cal
Fruit of some sort = average 60 cal
TOTAL = 210 - 260 cal (4-5WW points, depending on cereal)

I am a carb junkie, so I try to not eat just carbs. Example 3 is when I'm really feeling carb-deprived. That one is also one of my favorite end of day snacks - I just keep the cereal amount down.

I usually base my lunch on how hungry I am and on what I have going on the rest of the day. If I've got a workout before dinner, or if dinner will be late, I'll often try to spread lunch out -- have a little at noon, then a little more at 2...sort of like snacking, but with less thought required. Often lunch will start with leftovers from dinner - if we grill chicken, for example, we always grill extra so I can have it in a salad or as my protein for lunch. Soups and stews make great leftovers, too. The WW vegetable soup is the best way I know to jump start any plan and fill you up for little or no point/calorie hit.

Lunch Example #1
Tuna, canned in water, 5 oz can = 165 cal
Mayo, 1 tbsp Light = 35 cal
Dill pickles = 5 cal
Pita bread = 60 cal
Cheese, 1 oz = 110 cal (optional)
TOTAL = 375 cal including cheese (8WW points with cheese, 5 without)
This is one of my favorite lunches, especially when I'm really hungry. The entire 5 oz can of tuna makes two hefty pita halves, or a seriously loaded sandwich on regular bread (adjust calories accordingly). Add some lettuce, cucumber, whatever veggies you like, and put it on a salad if you want to skip the bread altogether. This is an easy one to eat half at noon, and the other half a couple hours later.

Lunch Example #2
Salad variations, depending on how many points I want to use:
Romaine lettuce, at least a cup = 10 cal
Carrots, cucumber, celery, whatever is handy, at least a cup = maybe 30 cal
Cheese, feta is my choice, but an ounce of any cheese is roughly 75 - 100 = 100 cal
Croutons, about 1/4 cup = 90 cal
Deli sliced turkey, 1 oz = 60 cal
Dressing, 2 tbsp (light, adjust for yours) = 50 cal
TOTAL = around 350 cal (5WW points)
There is obviously a lot of variation here. Sometimes I skip croutons or cheese, as those have point values. If I have grilled chicken, I'll use that instead of deli meat. Sometimes I'll add a boiled egg (70 cal, 2 points). Just be aware of any additions that have calorie impacts, and measure your dressing - it's really easy to use more than you think.

I think this post has gone on forever. I think I'll do dinner another time. Hopefully there are some ideas here that give you ideas on how to break up calories or points so that you don't spend all day thinking you're starving!  

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