Sodium, fat, and sugar: Three sins restaurant and take-out meals are famous for. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost: Personal finance experts estimate that many American households could save thousands each year by simply eating out only once a month. We won’t even discussaverage portion sizes of most prepared foods. While it’s fine to eat out once in a while, we all know it’s something we shouldn’t do very often, especially on a medical weight loss program.
There’s just one problem with that scenario: It relies on your ability to prepare your own food. Cooking is a concept that strikes fear in the hearts of many an adult — especially ones on a weight loss program. Much as we may have complained about home ec classes in junior high, they did attempt to impart valuable skills. Now, as you stare down that frozen chicken in the poultry aisle, you may find yourself wishing you’d paid closer attention in seventh grade.
Cooking Can Be Easy!
The truth is, important as knowing how to cook is, it doesn’t have to be difficult, or time-consuming. The first perception shift you must make is to stop thinking of yourself as a cook, but rather as an assembler. As an assembler, your job is not to spend three hours whipping up a delicious spinach soufflé, but rather to quickly combine a few healthy foods into a dish you and your family can eat —tonight. Here are the basic components an assembler needs to have at her fingertips:
Protein: Boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breast, lean ground beef, tofu, fish, even just a can of beans or some egg substitute is fine.
Vegetables: Fresh or frozen spinach, baby carrots, asparagus, broccoli, peas, green beans, eggplant, fresh salad greens—the list of delicious produce you can throw into a meal is endless.
Starch: Potato, couscous, whole-wheat pasta, beans (yes, they are a starch and a protein), brown rice, or tortillas.
Nutrients Should Be Personalized to Your Weight Loss Plan
Your Center for Medical Weight Loss doctor will discuss the best combination of nutrients for your meals to help promote weight loss as well as weight maintenance. These recommendations will vary from person to person depending upon underlying medical conditions and what type of program someone best responds to.
To get you started, here are some easy and delicious ways you can make a meal if protein, veggies, and starch is your recommended combo:
Egg substitute + sautéed asparagus and spinach + sliced potatoes = Egg frittata (15 minutes)
Lean ground beef + canned tomatoes + a can of black beans and kidney beans = Chili (10 minutes)
Goat cheese + sauteed mushrooms and avocado slices + flour tortilla = Quesadilla (7 minutes)
It really is that easy. As you become a champion assembler, you’ll find yourself experimenting with different combinations and will invent even more dishes. You’ll also start to get more exotic with flavorings and seasonings—adding a dash of hot pepper, some curry powder, or other herbs like rosemary, basil, and cilantro. These will take your dishes to an even more delicious level, and will give you added health benefits as w ell.
As your confidence grows, one day you may realize you’re no longer an assembler, but rather a chef —and that it feels pretty good.
Learn how to make the healthiest food choices when dining out.
Get tips for smart food shopping at the supermarket.
Find a center near you to schedule a consultation with a CMWL physician.