Today we are going to cover setting yourself up for success with flexible dieting, namely some shopping tips.
I love the freedom flexible dieting gives me. It allows me to fit darn near every food I want into my week. So first things first when shopping, choose food you want to eat, will eat, and like to eat. That being said, there are some macro hacks that you can play with to make things much easier.
The first thing for me is cheese. I love cheese. Like, seriously love it. If polygamy was allowed, I would be married to my husband and a block of cheddar. When we buy cheese, we buy whole fat cheese, reduced fat cheese, fat free cheese, and fat free singles.
Choosing different macro options is important. Here’s why: By having the different protein to fat ratios available, you can be flexible and fit any numbers you need. Regular cheese is roughly 9 g fat and 8 g of protein. Reduced fat is usually 5-6g fat and 7-8 g of protein, and fat free is usually 0 g of fat, 2g of carbs, and 9 g of protein.
Various combinations of two servings give you everything from 18 g of fat and 16 g of protein, 6 g of fat, 2 g of carbs, and 16 g of protein, or 0 g of fat, 4 g of carbs, 18 g of protein. If you have a salad with dinner, you can finish off your numbers for the day quite easily, no matter what they are simply by choosing the right blend of cheese.
The next variety of things we get are tortillas. Corn tortillas, flour tortillas, and usually some high fiber/protein wrap, (I think flat outs are what we have in the pantry right now). Again, by having options, you can be flexible. If your family is having tacos for dinner but your fats have to be a little lower, you can use corn tortillas instead of flour. We use flat outs for quick pizza crust too. Somedays, you just don’t want to eat any more chicken. With the cheese options above and the protein in the wrap, its easy to get upwards of 30 g of protein in one pizza.
Part of the importance of this flexibility is moving away from feeling deprived. Everyone loves tacos. I know I do. There’s a reason its Taco Tuesday and not Tilapia Tuesday. Sure you can put the taco meat on lettuce, call it a salad and eat with your family as a “Healthy” option. But why not have different options and be a part of your family, and enjoy a taco.
Regardless of your view on it, when you eat with other people , they judge what you eat. People will apologize when you are on a diet. How many times have you heard “oh, I’m sorry. Can you have X or Y?” By planning and having options that you can partake in and be a part of a communal meal, you can eliminate this constant reminder of a restrictive diet.
Next is dairy. I love Rockin Refuel protein chocolate milks. We get a variety of these as well. They have 3 options: Full power at roughly 4f, 50c, 20p, a “light” one at 4f, 20c, 20p, and a high protein one at 6f, 9c, 30p. By keeping a few of each in the fridge, it’s a very easy, very tasty meal on the go when you run out of time and you can fit whatever numbers you have to hit. We also keep cottage cheese and greek yogurts, both flavored and plain. I don’t mind the taste of fat free Cottage cheese , so I try to save the fat for elsewhere. You can take cottage cheese either sweet or savory. You can mix it with fruit, yogurt, or pudding (sugar free rice pudding and cottage cheese plus a little cinnamon is amazing) or you can add it to chili or pasta. With greek yogurt, most are 0f, 15c, 15p. The plain is lower carb, and is a great substitute for sour cream (remember those tacos above?). Low fat string cheese is easy protein as well, and a great way to make up those numbers to hit things dead on.
Are you noticing the trend here? Different macro options of foods you eat are a good thing.
We also get whole eggs, and either egg whites or egg beaters. Like everything else above, you can enjoy the foods you want, eat with your family, and be flexible enough to still hit your numbers by blending the options. We do the same thing with ground turkey/beef, usually having 93/7 and 99/1 in the fridge to give you choices. If your family is having cheeseburgers, how nice would it be to know that you could have one too, and make it fit guilt free? When you add mushrooms, grilled onions, and green chiles as toppings you realize you wont miss out.
Hungry Days & More Volume
The other thing we try to do is have different options for hungry days. Some days, despite your best planning, you find yourself starving. Its 2 pm, and you have poverty macros left. This is when those macro hacks come through. We love strawberries and raspberries. These are great fruits. A quarter pound of strawberries has 9 grams of carbs. In a QUARTER POUND. This is less than one single gummy orange slice.
We also keep salad greens on hands. I fell in love with Bolthouse dressings. They are greek yogurt based, and even the ranch only has 3 f, 3 c, 1p per serving. I usually will use one serving of dressing, then drizzle a little vinegar over it if it wasn’t enough for the amount of greens I’m eating. If you are still hungry and close to the end of your numbers, these are good options. I have found that cream of wheat and grits do a great job of filling you up. You can add one of your cheese options to grits with something like a little green onion if you are looking for something savory, and can have meal type macro numbers.
The last macro hack for you is to have fun with it. It’s your life. Enjoy it. I’d advise against the bulk barrel of licorice, but opt for a pack of fun size candy. We have one chocolate option or chocolate chips, and then some low/fat free option like gummy bears. I also put sprinkles on everything. A lot of dieting is mental. If you think you are having fun, you will have fun with it. Put sprinkles on. Put fresh herbs on things. Make it look pretty. Make your food fun. I keep Lenny and Larry’s cookies around (snickerdoodle and double chocolate), and Icon Meals protein popcorn. When you have a craving for that, you can address it, make it fit, and get on with your day guilt free. The sodium is high, but I keep a frozen pizza or two in the freezer as well. With a machine making them and the facts posted on the side of the box, I think it’s easier and more accurate to track then grabbing a slice somewhere.
I love pizza. Look at different options. Thin crust, rising crust, etc. Don’t be afraid to add fat free cheese and cooked chicken to a frozen pizza if you need to get your numbers up. If you can track it and make it fit, you can eat it and enjoy it!
I hope these tips help you reach balance. We tend to fall into patterns of foods we eat, and there is always a week or two learning curve with new numbers to figure out your meals and find satisfying foods. There are also unexpected days, cravings, and overages that are going to happen. With a little bit of pre-planning and keeping the right options close by, we can maintain our balance.
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