Adjusting food choices from maintaining weight to losing again

I lost the main chunk of weight that I wanted to lose last year, reaching my goal of 10st7 by September. Until January this year I was successfully maintaining between 10st0-10st7, which involved learning to eat healthily more 'instinctively' - no recording calories or trying to lose lbs each week - just making sure I made sensible healthy choices. But since January I've returned to the weight loss path again, aiming for a new goal range of 9st8-9st11. I'm re-examining my current healthy choices, especially as I'm now trying to restrict my calories and lose a few extra lbs. I thought I'd share what I've found during this transition from maintaining to losing weight again - even though I'm just trying to lose a few lbs this time.

For those who don't know me, I have dietary restrictions for health reasons, meaning I'm off anything with wheat or dairy. I'm also veggie but I eat fish sometimes too. I realise this is quite an unusual set of restrictions! But hopefully this means some of my food choices will give people new ideas for things they haven't tried before.

I'm also open to any suggestions for variations - or any general thoughts about making healthier choices - or any more suggestions from anyone else on wheat free/dairy free diets.

Rice noodles:

While maintaining, I started having rice noodle based lunches for work - easy to just throw it all into a tupperware (with tofu, pak choi, lots of veg) and heat up in the microwave. However, since restricting my calories again I've found this leaves me hungry a couple of hours later. While maintaining, I must have been supplementing this meal with extra snacks to keep myself going through the afternoon, but I don't want to do that while trying to lose weight again. So I've decided it's time to find whole-grain brown rice noodles (instead of the white rice noodles I'm currently having) to make sure this is not just an easy tasty low calorie lunch, but also a filling one :) I think I also generally need to just aim to have whole-grain versions of all foods like this - brown rice instead of white rice, sweet potatoes instead of new potatoes. This has slipped by the wayside a little while I've been maintaining but it's a habit I'm keen to gain back.

Eat Natural/Nature Valley bars:

Despite the way these are marketed, these types of gluten-free bars aren't 100% the healthiest snacks, although I find them a great fall-back when I'm tight for time to make my own no-added-sugar apple flapjacks/banana cake (see previous posts!). Bars like these contain more sugar and about 40% more calories than things I can make myself. So one of the things I'm determined to do is bake a great big batch of healthy banana cake, slice it up and freeze it ready to take to work. And maybe some apple flapjacks too :)

Batch cooking:

I've completely fallen out of the habit of batch cooking while I've been maintaining - but it's absolutely the way to go for easy pre-calorie-counted tasty lunches and dinners. I used to have containers of soup, curry, daal or veggie stew in the freezer - a good set of choices for things to heat up when I want a tasty healthy dinner but quickly. I've recently discovered Amy's Kitchen soups (which all seem to be wheat free/dairy free) - especially the Spanish Rice & Red Bean soup - 400 cals, a generous meal for one, and very very filling. I want to start making things like this that are new and exciting and easy to re-heat. And maybe lots of daal too. So watch this space :)

So for now, I'll be adding brown rice noodles, banana cake ingredients and lots of lentils to my shopping list, and maybe some more whole-grains and filling fruit and veg. I know this sounds obvious, but by thinking through how these can be added as adjustments to things I'm having already, it helps me know where to make small, manageable changes. Hopefully then I'll be able to redress any imbalance that occurred while I was maintaining, and reach and maintain my new weight without compromising the tastiness of my meals :)

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22 Replies

  • That sounds like it all should work well - may also be worth looking at using 'courgette spaghetti' or 'cauliflower cous cous' - I find they work as well as the carb varieties, and taste good - and they certainly fill me up.

  • I did try cauliflower rice when I first started my weight loss journey - and also I've noticed courgette spaghetti is easy to buy in the fruit and veg section of the supermarket now. I may try these on this new stage of my journey, especially as I do remember enjoying cauliflower rice. Thanks for reminding me :) Have you tried having stir fry in lettuce leaves? Cos/Romaine/Baby Gem all work well, and it makes the stir fry go a long way, and with much less rice :)

  • Hi Ruth, don't know if you eat quorn at all, a lot of their products have gluten in but the basic mince or chicken style pieces are wheat, gluten and dairy free. They are really filling from the protein content and quite low calorie, great for batch cooking and heating up at work the pieces are also nice pre cooked and eaten cold with salad ☀️

  • I had quorn 'chicken style pieces' with my lunch today - instead of tofu - it's a good fall back to have in the freezer. You're making me think of lots of different options to have them with though... hadn't thought of putting them in salad

  • You have done a lot of thinking. Good luck with your new goals. The new options sound very healthy.

  • When eating instinctively, start with the consideration of which plant/tree/fish did this food come from, and what change has it undergone?

  • I would suspect that foods that make you hungry within a couple of hours are spiking your insulin levels and are better substituted, for your health more than your weight.

  • I looked for brown rice noodles yesterday and couldn't find it, even though I'm sure they must exist. I think part of the problem I'm having is lack of availability of things that are wholegrain versions of meal combos that already work with my restrictions. I think concentrating on getting enough protein is my best route - eggs, fish, nuts, beans, as they compensate for what may be lacking elsewhere. My health is good by the way, better than ever, been retested for diabetes and all is fine (it's rife in my family), although I am still undergoing tests for wheat/dairy intolerances etc... I hope yours is too.

  • You can get brown rice noodles on line, but otherwise I guess you might had to find a speciality shop. Buckwheat noodles seem to be a bit more common, places like H&B usually stock them.

  • Frustratingly buckwheat noodles have wheat in too, or at least the ones I've found do. I'm planning a trip to the big wholefood shop in Piccadilly - hopefully I'll find more options there :)

  • The use of non-starchy vegetables 'spiralised' for the texture looks like a great idea.

    I found frying basmati rice better, but I still only have it in small amounts and infrequently.

    Are you able to tolerate, quinoa, whole oats (rough oatcakes) or bulgur wheat (I know they don't resemble noodles :-) )? There are always sweet potatoes, yams, barely-ripe bananas, dried apricots, milk, peas or sweetcorn to fall-back on.

  • I do have quinoa, but it's not the most inspiring thing for me, I usually prefer rice if I have the choice. I can have buckwheat but not bulgar wheat. But I find buckwheat quite boring too. I have recently discovered I can have poppadums though, which was exciting... I have soooo much oats, porridge for breakfast, oatcakes with my lunch, and often oats mixed into nut roast, oat pancake or vegetable crumble for dinner. I'm looking for variation though. One thing that worries me about spiralised veg is they really give out signals that you're on a diet. I'd like my food to look fairly normal but secretly be healthy. Maybe that's the bit that's hard to get right...

  • I'm sure our hunter-gatherer ancestors had similar worries :-D

  • They also didn't work stupid hours or have stomach issues caused by years of stress and over reliance on alcohol... I hear they had slightly shorter life expectancies and more predators though so maybe they'd have preferred to have my worries...

  • Aah, if they survived birth, infection or predators were probably the greatest determinants of longevity, but the fossil evidence is that physically they were fine specimens. We are only now returning to the average height attained by people pre-agriculturally. Whether this is as a result of adopting an inferior diet or not...

  • Hi Ruth it never occurred to me that spiral used veg was associated with dieting, I'd assumed it was for people trying to reduce processed starch and get their 5 a day! ☀️

  • Flippin auto correct! That should say spiralised !

  • They're definitely a good way to get your 5 a day. Maybe my assumptions are unfounded and I should give them a go... Maybe at home rather than for work lunches though...

  • Hi Ruth,

    I've just read your post, and it's really interesting to read. I am a big fan of your banana cake recipe and the apple flapjacks too - great to be able to bake using less sugar, and utilising the sugars that are present in the natural fruits. I no longer buy any refined sugar at all.

    I also like Concerned's suggestions of quinoa, whole oats, and I have only recently tried bulgur wheat (tasty!), and I particularly like your aim to do more batch cooking of soups, curry, daal, and veggie stews. If you do any great Daal recipes, please do share them - or any of your recipes Ruth - I think you are a great whizz for healthy recipes. Very creative.

    Hope you're having a lovely weekend and hope you find the whole-grain versions of the rice noodles you were looking for.

    Lowcal :-)

  • Thanks Lowcal. I think with limited options batch cooking is the way forward. I'll definitely post some recipes if I get round to them! Finding time is another thing I need to add to my to do list... Hmmm.

  • Thank you, for these tips. I have maintained my weight for over a year but now I find that I have put on half a stone and I really want to lose it. Weight loss is very difficult for me. i have tried hard for over two week's and I have not lost anything yet. So these tips are ver useful.

  • Glad some of my ramblings are useful! I'm learning a lot from peoples replies too. Hope you manage to shift a pound or two over the coming weeks and can maybe share a few of your own tips too :)

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