Are there free or less expensive weight loss programs that you can do on your own?
I have used the NutriSystem Weight Loss program and though I am not one to promote fast weight loss diet plans, was pleased with the how quickly I lost weight.
Because the program may be too expensive for certain people, ideas for less expensive alternatives to NutriSystem are provided on this page.
Some prepackaged meals that you buy in the supermarket or online are better than what I was eating when on NutriSystem. Personally, I can no longer eat their foods because there are too many things in them that I am sensitive too now...gluten, dairy, etc., so I need alternatives. I also am not thrilled with how much sodium is in prepared foods. Perhaps one day changes will be made to accommodate those of us who have food sensitivities. If this were to happen I may try their program again.
The most important aspect of any weight loss program is having an organized plan to follow, so I am attempting to put one together here, for myself and anyone else that might be interested.
Use a NutriSystem Meal Planner to Record Your Meals
Free online tools to track your progress losing weight
Sparkpeople has great tools to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you should, as well as exercise programs with videos, and much more, it’s a wonderful resource.
You can also use what I have provided below as a guide. You should have enough information right here to know how much you should eat at each meal, and between meals.
Free printable diet food exchange list, Meal Plan Checklist and Fast Food Guide
Don't be put off by the fact that the list is created for diabetics, in fact you will lose weight using the list, and who doesn't want to prevent diabetes...a very common disease that can be caused by poor eating? When one of my husband's doctors wanted him to lose weight years ago, he was given this very list.
ALSO if you aren't using one of the food trackers mentioned above this section, please feel free to print my meal checklist (please note there is a typo on the checklist, there should be only one section to record your lunch...until I correct you can cross out the extras.) to keep track of your foods as you eat them. A checklist for each meal and snacks between meals are included:
Click here to print the checklist in PDF format. All you need is the free Adobe Reader to view and print it...available online if not in your system. Most computers come with this installed.
- Food Exchange List System - This is a complete food exchange list. Don't be put off by the fact that it is a Diabetic meal planner, it is a wonderful list and will be very helpful with portion sizes, and provides guidance as well. I have this printed out and taped inside one of the cabinet doors in my kitchen.
- Fast Food Restaurant Food Guide - This link will lead to a guide that will help you as you plan eating meals out at fast food restaurants.
Book explains how the NutriSystem Program Works
Though it is not necessary that you buy this, if you want to learn more about the details behind this weight loss program, the book may be helpful.
There may be other books related to this featured on the same page when you visit this link for more information.
Image Credit - Amazon
How to Track the Diet Plan that Follows
You will want to print out the Meal Checklist PDF as a way of keeping track of what you eat, and the Food Exchange List discussed above as a way of knowing what foods you can choose from in each category, and how much equals a portion.
You will be surprised at how small a portion really is! This is the hardest thing to get used to in our "super size it" society, but it's worth it for your health and well-being.
REMEMBER, whenever I mention "free foods" below, it is one of the food lists to chose from on the Food Exchange List printout.
Breakfast and Weight Loss/Management
- 1 Meat or Dairy Portion (ie. 1 egg)
- 1 Starch (ie. 1 slice bread)
- Tea or Coffee (free foods if no cream/sugar/honey is added)
- "Free Food" okay anytime.
I do use a little sugar-free creamer. If you like your tea sweetened, you can use a natural no-calorie, no-carb herbal sweetener called Stevia. Visit this link and enter "Stevia" in the search field for more information. I do receive a little compensation for purchases made through this link, and some of the other links on this page.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Mid-Morning Snack Ideas
Before I learned I was Lactose intolerant, I would have a cup of yogurt or a cheese like string cheese. You can also have 8 oz. skim milk if you prefer to drink something. Lately I have been having my fruit and sometimes a piece of Lactose Free Cheese at this time of day.
- 1 Fruit (see food lists)
- 1 Dairy
Planning your Weight Loss Lunch
- 1 Meat or Dairy
- 2 Low Starch Vegetables (salad is what I like, feel free to use lettuce, celery, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes freely.)
- 1 Starch (ie 1 bread, 2 brown rice cakes, etc.)
- 1 Fat
- Any Free Foods.
Image Credit: Pixabay
BUT it is even better to learn to portion foods, this means reading what a portion is on the particular snack you want to eat. For example, if I decide I want corn chips, I count out how many it says a serving size is on the bag, which is usually much less than I would have eaten without checking what a serving size is. This is also helpful for foods that you have a hard time finding on the food lists I've provided above.
Weight Control Dinner Plans
You can have a nice big salad, in fact you can eat salad any time you like if you use fat-free dressing in moderation, or just squeeze a little lemon or sprinkle with Balsamic Vinegar for flavor without the extra calories. Avoid adding high-starch vegetables to your salad unless that is how you are using the starchy vegetables already suggested listed below.
Here are dinner suggestions:
- 3 Meat and/or Dairy (ie. 3 oz. meat)
- 1 Fruit or High Starch Vegetable
- 1 (or more) Salad with dressing as described above
- 1 Starch
- 2 Fat – could be a couple of teaspoons of butter on potato or rice, or oil in salad, or see food lists for suggestions.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Dessert or Evening Snack
If you prefer having something to eat between dinner and bedtime, you will want to save your mid-morning or afternoon snack until now...you should have 2 snacks a day.
I often spread out the foods suggested for dinner to make a 3rd snack. For example, the fruit can be saved and eaten as a snack.
Evaluating Your Progress
After you have been eating this way for a week or two, if you find that you are not losing, or heaven forbid, gaining, you will need to remove items from the menu.
OR, you should increase your exercise. You should be doing some form of exercise daily anyway, even if it is walking each day.
How much you lose is affected by various things...how much you exercise, your age, or how fast or slow your metabolism is.
Questions? Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below.
Portion Control Tools to Help Maintain Lost Weight
There are many inexpensive items you can purchase to help you maintain your weight after you have lost it, and even lose weight if you choose to use portion control dishes and utensils to manage weight.
I have created a page sharing some of my favorite portion control tools here.
Easy Diet Plan Using Store Bought Frozen Meals
I was reading the reviews for "The Simple Diet: A Doctor's Science Based Plan" and noticed that many said it was easy, and similar to other programs that provide you with meals, except it tells you what frozen diet meals to buy from the supermarket, and what additional foods to eat, similar to what I have provided above. You may want to take a look at the reviews by clicking the book image below:
You may also be interested in another article I have written - "How to Start the DASH Diet with Free Printable Tracking Charts", I diet that states that it may help reduce blood pressure as well as weight.