One sure way to foil your weight loss efforts is to over-complicate things. If cooking is a chore you tend to dislike and avoid, then planning a diet that keeps you in the kitchen half the day may be doomed from the start. After a while, you'll want to get back to your normal life. Good news -- it doesn't mean you're doomed to salads and yogurt for the rest of your days. There are healthy meals you can prepare quickly and easily, and still keep under 1,500 calories per day.
Breakfast can come in at under 300 calories if you're creative, and you don't have to miss any of the flavors or textures you love. It's as easy as swapping one thing for another. Swap your white flour products with whole grains. Switch to low-fat peanut butter or cream cheese to top your toast or bagel. Exchange whole milk for skim milk in your cereal. Instead of fatty bacon or sausage, allow yourself an occasional treat with a strip of lean turkey bacon. Instead of two waffles, have just one; swap the other for a bowl of low-calorie strawberries or a slice of cantaloupe.
If you've got 400 calories to spare, you've got more than enough for a light but satisfying lunch. Mix in plenty of vegetables to fill you up, with a touch of protein to keep you going through the day. A bag of mixed greens makes an excellent bed for an ounce or two of a chopped up meat, such as chicken or tuna. Hold the mayo, though -- dress your lunch salad with a fat-free creamy dressing and toss in a tablespoon of sunflower seeds or dried cranberries to keep it interesting. If you're longing for something hot and rib-sticking, a cup of vegetable soup with a few whole wheat crackers and a cheese stick can do the trick.
In most cases in life, you have to choose between quality and quantity. When it comes to dieting, quality can often give you more quantity. Allow yourself approximately 500 calories at dinner, which can go quite far on your plate. Start yourself with a raw veggie platter as an appetizer. You can munch practically all you want and reduce your appetite for the main course. Feast on a steamed 2 oz. piece of fish, sprinkled with lemon juice and fresh herbs and a medium baked potato topped with fat-free creamy ranch dressing. If you're a pasta fan, add some browned turkey and Italian seasonings into a jar of natural tomato pasta sauce. Spooned over whole wheat linguine, you'll have a low-cal comfort food.
Don't think of snacks as a bad thing, they can be a powerful weapon to fight the battle of the bulge. Wisely chosen snacks help ward off hunger, which keeps you from feeling deprived and giving into temptation. For something sweet and creamy, try sugar-free pudding or flavored gelatin with a dollop of fat-free whipped topping. Make yourself a small milkshake with low-fat frozen yogurt and skim milk. Mix yourself small baggies of goodies for the office or when you're on the go, such as pretzel sticks, whole grain cereal, dried fruit or cashews. Read labels, get out the measuring spoons and count calories to allow yourself up to 300 calories per day in snacks.