I was reading the latest post from the Creative Junkie (Andrea Chamberlain), who recently lost 40 pounds while on Weight Watchers. Which inspired me to write about some of the things that I have been eating that have helped me lose 25 pounds (slightly less remarkable than her total, but still no tiny feat).
I should make a disclaimer first. To be honest, my weight loss wasn't really so much about what I ate, but more about what I DIDN'T eat. What I mean to say is, of course I (mostly) cut out the obvious high-calorie, not so healthy stuff like potato ships, ice cream, soda, and baked goods. And I tried to cook at home, making healthier meals with more vegetables and fruit. But mostly, I ate real food while maintaining some serious portion control (i.e. staying within my allotted Weight Watchers points).
With that being said, I know I have been posting recipes for meals here, but I think it might be helpful to list some of the snacks I have been eating while trying to lose weight. Oh, and don't expect me to be half as funny as the above-referenced post; Andrea is inappropriate and totally hilarious. But, here goes.
First, I did not drink a butt-load of water, as so many others profess to do when dieting. (By the way, I still dislike the idea of dieting, or at least calling it a diet. But, having spent the last three months on Weight Watchers and trying to live on only 19-21 points per day (my allotment went down as I lost weight), I must admit that I was sometimes hungry, and I cannot deny that I was dieting. But, as usual, I digress.) I realize that water is a healthy drink, and for some people, it may help them to feel less hungry. For me, it just helps me to feel bloated, which is not a pleasant state to be in. Besides, if you read this article, it talks about a review published in the American Journal of Physiology that found no evidence that people need to drink the often-recommended eight glasses of water per day. In fact, it dispels several myths, like "by the time you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated," "dark urine means dehydration," and "coffee, tea and soda don't count towards your hydration requirement." None of those appears to be true. Realistically, my 19-point daily allotment didn't give me much room to drink beverages with a points value. So yes, I cut out almost all other drinks besides water, and yes by default I ended up drinking slightly more water. But really, not so much.
I did, however, drink some diet drinks. I have always HATED diet soda and thought that if I had to resort to drinking diet, then it wouldn't be worth drinking soda at all. Which I still mostly agree with. But sometimes, you just need something other than water. Cue the Coca-Cola Zero Cherry. I think Coke Zero tastes the most like regular soda of any diet drink. No, it's not quite the same, and it tastes kind of flat in comparison. But the cherry flavor is the most drinkable diet I have tasted. How's that for a half-hearted endorsement? More recently, I have also started drinking some of the Sobe Lifewater Zero drinks, and I am definitely not in love with them, but they don't have the same gross STRONG artificial sweetener taste that most diet drinks do. And hey, a zero points pick-me-up is sometimes just what one needs to get through the day.
Yay, more for me!
Fiber One Bars Oats and Chocolate. The way that Weight Watchers calculates points involves some formula that takes into account the number of calories and grams of fat (more = more points), and the grams of fiber (more fiber = less points). No, the Fiber One bars aren't so yummy that I would eat them if I wasn't dieting, but at just two points each, they could fill me up for awhile. And for someone that never used to eat breakfast at all, they made an okay morning meal that I didn't get tired of eating everyday. Along the same line of adding more fiber to my diet, I found that it was super easy to switch to whole grain pasta and brown rice instead of white. Add more fiber, fill up your tummy, and bring down the Weight Watchers points values. It's win-win-win. But if too much fiber makes you gassy, then I can't help you there. Maybe not a win for everyone, after all.
Watchers Ice Cream Candy Bar. I suppose they can't call these Snickers bars for obvious reasons, but it's pretty much what they are. Made with a reduced fat ice cream substitute, of course, but so yummy that I could eat several a day. However, since they are three Weight Watchers points each (and not cheap, by the way), I can't really eat several a day, however much I would like to. These are a snack that I would eat even when not dieting. Some people also swear by Skinny Cow desserts (single-serve ice creams, sandwiches, cones, bars), and I tried several of those. They were surprisingly better than I expected, but in my mind don't hold a candle to the Ice Cream Candy Bar.
Unfortunately, I have to report that I never did not find a magic salad dressing, i.e. a low-fat, low-calorie delicious concoction that would make lettuce actually taste good. Although I tried several light dressings from Newman's Own (Balsamic Vinaigrette, Italian), a couple of different fat-free ranch dressings, and even Salad Spritzers (which taste like very watered-down salad dressing), at best they were just tolerable. My tastes run towards a full-calorie ranch dressing, but since those can be five to seven points for a two-tablespoons serving, I may never eat ranch again. So, I'm still in search of the perfect salad dressing, although I currently have about seven imperfect options in the fridge.
Now, I realize that most of this stuff goes against the advice of Michael Pollan's Food Rules (read my previous post for a review of sorts). Diet soda, reduced-fat foods, and anything that is artificially sweetened would be hard pressed to be counted as a "real food." Yes, I should be increasing the amount of fresh fruits and veggies in my diet, and I have. Significantly. In fact, one of my most frequent snacks was five baby carrots and/or a quarter of an apple at a time (which is the most you can eat and still count it as zero points. Cheating? Maybe.) But it's hard to change my junk food-loving ways. Baby steps.