Eat to Lose: Foods That Helped Me Shed 100+ Pounds*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)

I always had viewed dieting as a punishment for being overweight. I don’t anymore. Dieting is a punishment to anyone who tries it because it is bound to fail eventually.

The nutrition part of losing weight for me this time has been more about what I do eat than what I don’t eat. I try to focus on eating healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, lean proteins, low fat organic dairy and healthy fats. By the time I get these foods in, I have less room for junk, so I always make sure to have something good for me before I indulge.

Discovering and adding healthy foods that you like into your diet can be fun and exciting. Even if you aren’t a cook, there are simple things to try that take only a few minutes to make that include very healthy fare. Here are some tips that have helped me lose more than 100 pounds using SparkPeople:
  • Buy yourself or your family a fruit or vegetable tray. They are already made, taste great, and make you feel pampered. Personally, I used to feel they cost too much, but wouldn’t think twice about spending that same amount on something unhealthy like a fast food meal.
  • Once a week, add one new healthy food into your basket at the grocery and have your family give it a try. One summer I challenged myself to try a new exotic fruit each week, and I found some--like mango, papaya, and passion fruit--that were so sweet and delicious that they were like dessert. Throw a healthy food party and have everyone bring a new healthy item from the store or that they made. It can be that simple.

    There are some debates out there about what is healthy. Food closest to its natural state and unprocessed is deemed the healthiest by many, including myself. The term for this kind of diet, that would include fruits, veggies, grains, lean proteins and healthy fats is “clean eating.” While I cannot eat a totally clean diet, I do eat cleaner than I used to eat. This is a big step in lifestyle change. The middle ground, where I’m not stressing over being perfect and I’m not sabotaging my efforts, is a crucial part of my journey. My goal began to be eat better (healthier foods), not perfectly.

    Now I shop for products with more whole grains, look for ways to add fruits and vegetables, and make sure I get enough lean protein and some unsaturated fat. You can cook them or prepare these foods how you like within reason (I mean, deep frying would be a bad idea). Tossing things in the oven with a spritz of olive oil is much healthier.

    I learned to make healthier popcorn by popping it in a small amount of canola oil, then lightly spritzing with sunflower oil instead of butter. It still has a buttery flavor, but is heart healthy. You could go even further by air popping the corn. I also use spray oils on vegetables instead of butter. My slow cooker has become my go-to cooking method because I can cook vegetables, meats, and soups with minimal fat. Oven cooking is my second favorite method to prepare food, using a pan with a raised grid that allows fat to drip off. Then there is steaming. A good steamer can make crisp vegetables in a jiffy and fluffy grains perfectly.

    It can even be fun to look up your favorite restaurants and create menu plans on the food tracker around days when you might want to enjoy a meal out. The trick is to fill up on healthy food before you go out if it is an unfriendly food environment. Why? Well, you will still eat some of your entrée, but you’ll have the strength to eat less of it and box the rest up for tomorrow.

    The moral of the story? EAT! Eat healthier each day and add foods that keep you satisfied and fulfill your body’s needs. Eating within your body’s needs of healthy foods will keep you fuller longer and less likely to do as much damage when you stray.

    Here is a list of some of my favorite snack, breakfast and lunch items to have in the kitchen:
    • Fruit or veggie tray
    • Natural peanut butter
    • Spray olive oil
    • Organic low-fat milk
    • Oatmeal
    • Whole-grain bread
    • Whole-grain gereal
    • Lean Cuisine entrees
    • Healthy Choice entrees
    • Smart One entrees
    • Nature Valley granola bars
    • Kashi products
What healthy foods are staples in your house? 

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program. 

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KATHYJO56 9/23/2019
Great article Report
KHALIA2 8/7/2019
Thanks! Report
THETROUT 7/27/2019
My new thing is greek yogurt mixed with fresh berries.

Almond Milk with FiberOne cereal for breakfast. Report
DGRIFFITH51 7/5/2019
Thanks Beth, I try to eat clean too. Some things I do for quick meals include cooking a whole bag of brown rice and divide it into freezer bags holding 1 cup or two cup portions. I flatten the rice out in the bag making it easy to stack in the freezer and quick to thaw. I also cook meatloaf in a muffin pan. I use a quarter pound of my meatloaf mix per cup, bake it, cool it then wrap each muffin in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag. They warm up quickly in the microwave. Report
RUNNNERR 6/26/2019
I cannot do frozen meals. In the past I would buy them for work lunch a few days a week & the sodium content caused my fingers to swell so much my ring was tight. I do like your suggestion of "splurging" on a veggie tray. Yes, if it's the time that is causing you concern then it is wayyyyy better than the alternative of running through a drive-thru. Report
Sounds like a thoughtful,livable plan. Just be careful of the processed “diet” entrees like lean cuisine,etc. High in sodium and chemicals. Save the trays and put left over home cooked healthy food in them and wrap in foil or freezer zip bags. More good, family friendly suggestions are whole grain pastas, whole wheat couscous cooked in broth with herbs andzz Report
ANHELIC 5/17/2019
Thanks for the information Report
I love freggies in their rawest forms. I do steam when needed. It’s just easier and I feel healthier. I try to cook simple less processed recipes as not to destroy the nutritional benefits of the veggies. Report
FISHGUT3 4/27/2019
thanks Report
GETULLY 4/6/2019
I love the idea of splurging on a veggie tray! Report
REGINAMJ 2/7/2019
Great post but papaya is not sweet. It tastes like old socks Report
RAPUNZEL53 1/18/2019
Great. Report
always have apples on hand. just purchased an air popper for in the microwave. Report
Some great ideas and suggestions Report
Slow cooked oatmeal, air popped popcorn, and herb flavored rice cakes are my go-to snacks. They are very filling and chewy! Report
I love my airpopped popcorn with a little sprayed on olive oil and salt as well. Report
thanks. Report
Im a vegetarian so the oven ready meals are a bit tougher to get excited about... some aren't too bad but far less options for me. I have been experimenting with cottage cheese. Mixing, blending and adding all sorts of fun flavours together. Currently my go to! Report
Still great tips... so many more options in the frozen meal section available now - 7 yrs later. Report
Thanks for all the great tips. We always have fresh fruit in our house. I put grapes in the freezer it's like a dessert! We eat a lot of salads, chicken & fish. I have found out that if you eat more protein & fiber it really does make you feel full longer. Report
Loved reading your article. Great writing I must add... Thank you for the hints and the motivation. I have often felt the way you described yourself when you were discouraged. This helps me realize I am not the only one who has struggled. Thank you and good luck :-) Report
I found this article most helpful but when eating for only one it is hard to buy most things like veggie trays so I cut up all my veggies my self and split the batches in half and eat some raw and freeze and cook up the rest in casseroles or to put with meat garnish Report
Sylv from Oz. Great article, but beware the muesli that contains dried fruit. Buy a fruit free one, always look at the sugar part of the nutrition panel, and don't buy foods that have more than 5% sugars. It's the fructose that is making you fat, lovely people. Read the research for yourself. I started with a book called Sweet Poison, the Quit Plan, it was the authoprs 2nd book. Then I found all the other research out there. Have lost 7.2 kilos since Sept 2010, with a 4 kilo gain after Xmas, (no, I wasn't 'bad', just eating too many carbs!). Now back on track & my 'appetite control' has kicked in, so I don't feel so hungry any more. Always eat whole fresh fruits, check out the low sugar ones. It's the fructose that dulls down your natural appetite control. Yay for me....haven't been this light for 20 years!!!!! Happy Happy Report
This is great, I always love spark people, can't go wrong with fruits and vedgies!! Also put this on my FB Report
Excellent blog and so true! I am literally eating more that I did when I was overweight but now I am eating healthy! Of course exercise is a big part of my weight loss success but eating more veggie and fruits has helped me tremendously with getting over the diet trap. As I tell anybody who asks, I am not on a diet, I am now embracing a healthy lifestyle! Report
Because, of my change to a healthy lifestyle, I've embraced new foods like Kashi, Nature Valley bars for snacks, and the whole wheat flour based products. So I am with you on a great list, Beth. Thanks, Report
Great information! Thanks for sharing with us. Report
All kinds of veggies & fruits (fresh or frozen, preferably), fat-free milk, 2% cheese, oatmeal's OK, homemade whole grain bread (I love to bake it!), & I agree with the Lean Cuisine, Healthy Chooice, & Smart Ones dinners. Don't forget the fat-free yogurt! I use my slow cooker a lot & tonight when I get home from work, there will be a great white bean soup. So I wanted to add dry beans. They are full of protein! Report
Apples, grapefruits, and bananas. Report
I keep leafy greens, fresh fruits, whole grains, nuts. Report
I buy veggie trays because I don't like cooking but I like eating! Report
Thanks very helpful article,and all the comments.I will be saving this article for reference.Healthy day all! Report
I never thought about the veggie tray/fruit tray thing that way. We got a fruit tray one week and loved it. But then i realized it just cost too uch. But you know it was like $7 and sure I say "I could save if i cut them up myself" But I dont have time to do that . Who am I kidding. And yes a hamburger meal at a fast food place cost that much amd is gone in 15minutes! ALSO the frozen meals you talk aout..are sooo SOOOOOO BAD for you. You shouldnt eat or promote that junk. Its highly processed full of sodiium..and fraankyly IF I CANT PRONOUNCE IT I DONT EAT IT! I really think you should be telling people to make their own easy to cook meals. I canmake a spinach egg white omlette faster than your "diet" entree can cook in the microwave. Report
Great ideas! Report
I've always avoided buying the veggie and/or fruit trays because of the cost.'re right, I would have probably spent that much on unhealthy choices and never thought twice about it! Report
I think eating whole foods is a key to success and have been trying to follow a clean eating plan as well. I have to say though I am concerned that 3 out of 12 of your "go to" foods are processed. Not only are they processed but on a Good Morning America report a couple of months ago, they did a study on the calories in these "diet meals." The study pointed out that these meals can have up to 30% more calories than reported on the nutrition label. So for me, cooking from scratch, and eating foods as close to their original state is the way to go. That's not to say that I don't love my reduced fat/salt peanut butter, but I try to keep my foods as nature intended them. Report
Good Info.. I have been eatin g more fruits and veggies as well.. Its much cleaner eating than me in the porevious months or shoul ievn say years.. I must agree those veggie dishes are expensive.. I always bypass them in the supermarket.. But I will do it every 2 weeks, cuse I do not have the time to cut the frsh veggies when I get home.. I'm so tired.. whew.. Nonethless- I am still moving forward in this path to weight loss..It feels great!!! Report
I've been trying to eat this way since October. Healthy, and as clean as possible. Well, a couple of weekends ago my husband and I had this MAJOR craving for fried foods sooooo we fried EVERYTHING we had in the house! You name it, if we had it, it went in the fryer (pickles, fish, onions, potatoes,string cheese). By the time we got done with the frying we were feeling alittle "off" but we still hadn't eaten anything, just tastes of the food as it came out of the fryer. Well, when we did start to eat, YUCK!!! We ended up throwing most of it out (big waste I know, but sometimes you have to sacrifice to have a learning experience). So now we know that we actually LIKE eating healthy and even in just this short amount of time (since October) our bodies can really tell the difference!
No more "fried" weekends for us! Report
That is what I have been doing basiclly ..trying to change little by not fry at all like I use to..did take out my slow cooker been using it more often...great aticle...motivated me to continue... Report
Loved this article. Basically this is the mind set I have now...eating healthier MOST of the time. That's something that I can stick with...down with dieting! LOL Report
Good ideas! I especially like the tip of spraying oil on veggies instead of butter. I drizzle it on but it doesn't really get evenly distributed. I'm going to try spraying.
I just discovered Greek yogurt. I use it on baked potatoes, home-made tortilla chips, and as a dip for fresh veggies. So indulgent! Report
I really like the article. I liked your list of must haves, but I have found a "granola bar" that is wonderful. Fiber Plus has 3 varieties, dark chocolate almond, peanut butter chocolate, and chocolate chip. I always put one in my purse as I am walking out the door for that emergency snack. Report
Great information! Thanks for sharing ! Report
I think the idea about the veggie tray is smart. The article pointed out that people feel no remorse about buying some junk (like an $8 ice cream cake for example!) but won't spend ten to fifteen dollars on something healthy and certainly convenient. I'm going to try to buy one next time I go to the store. If I can eat it all before it goes bad then I'll make that a regular part of my grocery budget. I'm sure I can cut back somewhere else! Report
I wish I could eat more. Knowledge does not seem to help my power. When I eat, it is hard to force down a plum, I take a bite every 15 min or so. I know eating boost your metabolism the more frequently you do it. Does anybody know a hypnotist... :) Keep the fight going Sparkers Report
I have been trying new veggies and fruits at the store. I see a new fruit or veggie and then I buy it. I then go home and research recipes until I find one that I think I will like. I have introduced about 4 new fruit and veggies in the last 5 weeks.

Surprisingly, my kids have liked trying the new ones and they are excited to track down the next one we will be trying! It really makes it more fun for all of us! Report
I have been trying for the past three years to get my hubby to try new fruits and veggies. He has a problem with what country the food was grown in. I say you only live once and I want to experience as much as I can. I was 45 years old before I ever tried a mango or kiwi. I eat them often now. Report
I was happy to see that you included Samrt ones and Lean Cusine meals on your list. I pretty much live off of those for dinners. I also enjoy soups and salads. I think on my next shopping trip I will dare to put natural peanut butter in my cart. Report
I love all of your healthy favorites too! My personal go to snack is sliced cucumbers with onions in vinegar and water Report
My fave part of your article, Indygirl: not to stress! So true. Thanks for sharing what's worked for you! Report