Raised by frugal parents, it's easy for me to put finances into a budget plan. I've found I need to think of my daily food intake as a budget as well, measured in calories.
When I had no idea how many calories I was consuming in a day, it was easy to just keep eating (and gaining). I didn't know how many calories I even needed per day, so if I was hungry, I ate. And I even ate when I wasn't hungry. (Cheesecake beckons at all hours!)
I had to ask myself, "Am I eating right now simply because I enjoy the taste of this food, or am I enjoying delicious food while satisfying hunger and nourishing my body?" There's nothing wrong with thoroughly enjoying every bite, but that enjoyment needs to be coupled with meeting my body's needs, not burdening it with excess.
Quick steps to a calorie budget:
1. Figure out your daily calorie needs. I used an online calorie calculator using my weight, height, gender, and activity level. Since I'm breastfeeding, I added an additional 300-500 calories to my "budget".
2. Keep track of your spending. I always cringe at the words "counting calories" but I've found again and again that keeping track of the calories I consume is the only way for me to maintain a healthy weight loss. I wrote more about calorie counting in this post, including a calorie-breakdown of our homemade pizza.
When I only have ~2,000 calories to spend each day, I start thinking of some "frugal foods" to eat!
Bananas, at about 100 calories each, remain one of my favorite breakfast foods. They're also a quick snack, and seem to give a lot of energy from those calories! Apples are another favorite.
In-the-shell peanuts are one of my favorite protein snacks. I know peanuts are very high-calorie, so we buy the ones in the shell. Shelling them takes time, so I get to enjoy them more! A half-cup of peanuts (in the shell) is 170 calories. And not surprisingly, those 170 calories really fill me up! (For an hour or so...)
I also love roasted almonds. You may laugh, but I have figured out that our almonds (from Costco) have an average of 7 calories in each. Sometimes I finish the day with ~50 calories left over, and I "spend" the rest on almonds! Other days, I end up going to bed a little hungry, but I know it's okay since I know how much food I consumed that day.
Shredded cheese on my salads is another way to make a salad seem more like a full meal. I usually opt for mozzarella cheese rather than cheddar, since it's only 80 calories per ounce rather than 110!
What are your favorite foods that give "bang for the buck"? :)
I especially resonate with "Go Outside"! As a mom of energetic, growing children, I know they need the fresh air and exercise just as much as I do! As I ease back into "everyday life" (yes... the babymoon has to end at some point, right?) it's my goal once more to take the children outside every single day.
A couple of my favorite "free" weight loss tips:
Drink plenty of water!
Get enough sleep!
And on that note, it is time for me to feed a little boy and head to bed myself! :)