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In times past, I tended to always use a lot of every ingredient that I ate whether it's in a recipe or a snack.
In my head, that would seem like the normal amount for me. It wasn't really the last couple of years when I started trying tweaking things purposefully when I noticed that my satisfaction level with certain dishes was exactly the same if I use less of the same ingredients.
The reason that this is important is because it really made a difference of how easily I've maintained my weight loss. The first few years was a bit more rocky than it is today. I had to correct a lot more frequent because of eating a lot whether it's low carb or not.
To be honest, I started making these tweaks to try to find ways to eat more of what I wanted and it worked out well. These days I rarely have to make purposeful corrections to fix my weight. In the past I would have to intermittent fast frequently or be aware of my eating for a week. These days, sometimes I only fast once in a month or once in two months. So it's very few and far in between that I have to make actual corrections to my weight now and I do attribute it in part to this tactic of tweaking ratios and ingredients.
3 Tactics I Will Discuss In This Section
- Tweak Ratios
- Use calorie dense ingredients
- Track and measure just for a while these more calorie dense ingredients.
Tactic #1: Tweak Ratios
The standard grilled cheese sandwich at my local shop uses 4 slices of cheese on their sandwich. I found out simply by asking. That's a lot of cheese- it was like 420 calories JSUT for the cheese, never mind the actual bread and butter to grill it with. But I REALLY wanted a grilled cheese Sammy! I decided to try the sandwich with 2 slices of cheese instead of 4.
GUESS WHAT?! It literally tasted like almost no different. Then I tried it having grilled without butter. NO GO. That tasted significantly less satisfying. So now I always get my grilled cheese (actuually every day at the time of this video) with 2 slices of cheese. This keeps my overall calorie intake balanced for the day and frees me up to have more food choices later in the day.
Now I'm going to be really honest and it will either make you a little jealous or inspire you to work on improving your metabolism:
I do eat sandwiches on gluten free bread, every day for lunch. For a little bit I start getting 2 sandwiches - the grilled cheese (with the 4 slices at the time) and this turkey/bacon/avocado/cheese club type sandwich. I was kind of hoping that Crossfit was enough to make up for it. Well it wasn't. I could feel my waistline gettin' a bit bigger. But I would have a hard time deciding between the grilled cheese sandwich and this turkey/bacon/avocado thing- obviously both of these sandwiches are high in fat which means high in calories.
One day I was like HOW can I still have both without it being a problem?
I tried asking for my grilled cheese with half the cheese they normally use- 2 slices instead of 4, and got 1/2 of the turkey/bacon sandwich thing and asked for half the cheese on that as well. And that's been fine! I eat that every single day actually.
So look for ways to adjust the amounts used in your favorite foods where it still tastes pretty much the same but reduces how many calories you are consuming to create balance. Like I said, the grilled cheese grilled dry was like ick. So keep trying new ideas until you settle on some that work for you.
Tactic #2: Use calorie dense ingredients
Use calorie dense ingredients IN a recipe where there's lots of other healthy lower calorie or less calorie dense ingredients to make a sizable meal- don't eat calorie dense ingredients by themselves.
I mentioned the 10 pecans thing. If were to eat these ingredients just by themselves (which I occasionally do, but if it I did it everyday I'd be in weight trouble fast, even WITH my healthy metabolism and higher than average female daily caloric intake).
But rather than just NOT eating them at all (which is also an option and I have periodically done that as well), I have found that much smaller amounts than I would have THOUGHT actually totally suffice when used in an actual RECIPE.
So a couple examples:
The banana nut smoothie has a topping with, no joke, HALF an ounce of walnuts. It looks so tiny in the pan it almost seems like WHY BOTHER - go find a mouse and give him a treat sheesh. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that when added to my actual phase 3 smoothie- it added a LOT to the texture and feel of the whole thing that was definitely lacking without it, and it honestly didn't need more than I had used to be satisfying.
The apple spice morning mug muffin- has only 1/4 cup of apple in 1 serving mug muffin. That's like 1/4 of an apple. Who ever eats a quarter of an apple right? If you're EATING an apple you definitely wouldn't. That would be like 15 or 20 calories- a pointless snack. BUT in the combination with the other ingredients- the flaxseed meal which is filling and high in fiber, the melted BUTTER for yummy fat, the cinnamon and Erythritol sweetener that makes it tastes like a dessert, not just an APPLE - this combines to make a REALLY satisfying food that you've eaten and even though I have big appetite, I'm pretty full after one of these mug muffins (whereas I'm totally not full after an entire apple, let alone 1/4 of one) and the satisfaction level is THERE.
There's a 1 tbsp. of coconut cream to create this little creamy chewiness throughout the double chocolate desert smoothie. Now if I hadn't experimented with this I would have probably dumped in 1/4 cup. And I'm not saying it isn't GOOD with 1/4 cup, but again, I found is that it's not actually NECESSARY to creating the feeling of satisfaction you get from the meal.
Remember, this is not to say that you should always use at little as possible of ingredients or track every calorie or eat less calories- but what this process made me realize is that I could have MORE freedom with what and how much I ate by KNOWING about these little tweaks, so that sometimes if I have French fries at my local grill and the burger patty which is 20% fat, and the salad with the 2 tabs of salad dressing, I don't have to come home and feel like, WELP, I BETTER not eat another thing tonight or I'll gain weight. Instead, I MIGHT not eat if I'm not hungry, but I also am aware that if I FEEL like having a snack, I can make my double chocolate smoothies for like 60 calories, and I can add 1 tbsp of coconut cream for like 40 calories and have a pretty nice sized snack and not be worrying and have it actually BE in balance with what my body can handle without storing fat. Not every thing we make to eat for ourselves has to have a TON of every ingredient is I guess what I'm saying. This was something important for me to learn so that I could eat within the balance of what my body needs and not do lots of mental trips on myself for wanting to eat something at 10 o'clock at night.
It just gives you more choices.
Tactic #3: Track and measure
Measure things out for a bit and see if you aren't satisfied - this is coming from a person who HATES feeling confined when it comes to food and has resisted measuring or counting something to check it's calorie content of years. I did this recently as part of the development of the Phase 3 program as well as for my own experiments with my body and fitness and the desire to grow as a person (I was avoiding the measuring and counting purely out of fear which wasn't really logical so I wanted to see if I could work through that fear)
So it turns out 1/4 cup of feta cheese crumbles on a salad or soup is like a balanced amount - it will fit with the other ingredients to make a balanced calorie meal. But again, in the past, if I hadn't measure, I would have eyeballed at least a half cup if not more- you might think oh that eels like a lot but if you look at a measuring cup, it actually doesn't look like that much- at least to me. But when I put that 1/4 cup in there and eat my little dish, it's like, wow you know what? This is actually enough. I taste it. I feel that crumbled feta cheese creamy texture in my mouth. It is enough.
One little warning here: This tactic doesn't apply when we're talking about sweets and sugar addiction or depending on if you have a food addiction of some sort that's different.
In this case, you may need to go through a detox period FIRST where you don't eat ANY of that type of ingredient to overcome the cravings for it where you can't necessarily just " control" how much you eat of something, even IN a recipe, as I described - at which point you might be able to have those sorts of ingredients in moderation again and feel mentally in control of that.
There might be some ingredients you just really can't keep a handle on - so like for me, I have some foods like this in my life- in my discussion on trigger foods, I talked about how ice-cream and cookies specifically- really any type of BAKED good, is a trigger for me, so that even to this day, years after not eating them, and not craving them- literally I never spend even a second of my day thinking to myself, "MAN I wish I could have cookies" even if they're right in front me- but if I TASTE one- OMG. It's like you threw a firecracker in a cave - my whole brain lights up and says "Woah, give me more of THAT FAST!" So it' just one of those things that I can't be like, "Okay, I'm going to have 1/4 cup of these cookie crumbles on my smoothie and be satisfied" - that just doesn't' HAPPEN for me.
So this is a tactic to use with foods that aren't triggers for you and if you are in the throes of sugar or food addition at this moment, please don't feel discouraged and think you will never be in this place- it took me awhile where even fruit made me crave to eat a lot more, but these days I just have those few trigger foods but I can eat all sorts of other things and be content with what I've eaten.
2 IMPORTANT NOTES
This is almost a totally subconscious thing but our culture has created kind of a standard amount of ingredient used in meals or recipes that we just assume is required to have a pleasing meal. A lot of times this has way excess of calories that if we eat frequently, is going to cause weight gain problems. What I found was that I could have the basic meal I was wanting but ask for a few adjustments using less of an item or two and it would still taste basically the same to me!
Another example I mentioned in the meat discussion is that I REALLY love fries. Like really. And it's not a trigger food for me- watch or read the discussion on trigger foods to get more info about that. But depending on my activity level I can't always get away with having the fries, the salad with my favorite but also of course fat based dressing, and the 80/20 450 calorie bunless beef patty. So in these scenarios, instead of thinking, well I can't have any of that- I think about what do I like the VERY most out of that meal? For me it's actually the fries and salad. I could kind of take or leave the burger patty and it's a big source of calories. So I skip that and order fries and salad. But I don't skip protein entirely- I find a super lean source of protein so that I'm getting many protein I need for the day with the fewest calories, so that I can splurge my intake on these other favorite foods- so either before or after we eat at the grill, I will cook up some chicken breast super fast - my method for that is to slice it thinly and put it in a pan with an inch or two of water- it cooks up literally Lin like 4 minutes- and eat that with some salt.
And I feel super satisfied with this.
So the message I hoped to get out here, is that in many cases, less of 1 or 2 of the ingredients in an entire meal actually doesn't change the flavor or texture of the meal that much, and gives you more FREEDOM to choose what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat because you are now making simple trade offs that allow you have what you want but still maintain.
I'm all about getting to eat as much as I can without gaining weight- that's really my goal as far as my long term approach to living my life, which is why I Crossfit and do heavy weight lifting because I've seen that it lets me eat a lot more and I enjoy eating.
But I also enjoy having a healthy trim body.
This is one tweak to be aware of that can help strike that balance.