Cooking For Someone on a Diet
Cook and Freeze
There are many motivations people have to lose weight. To look/feel better. To find a soulmate. To fit into that little black dress. The biggest (no pun intended) reason I've seen recently? Weddings. In six months, I'll be getting married. I'm happy with my weight. Actually, I probably shouldn't lose weight, even though the stress of wedding planning has made me lose four pounds in the last two months. But this isn't about me. This is about the people in my life who feel they need to lose weight to be in my wedding. I think they all look perfect, and I've told them I love them no matter how they look as long as they're healthy. So when my mom told me she is starting on WeightWatchers, I supported her. She's been unhappy with her weight for a long time, so this was no surprise to me. The wedding simply gave her more motivation.
But there's a catch to all of this.
She hates to cook. Luckily, I love to cook. I agreed to cook her meals, but since I'm not home all the time we agreed that I would cook once a week and simply freeze each serving individually. I made sure to record the Points each serving costs for her reference. I have to say that cooking an entire week's worth of meals in roughly three hours (including all prep and clean-up) is extremely satisfying to me.
And to my mom. She's already lost quite a bit of weight in her first two weeks.
This Hub is going to hopefully encourage, support, and give tips for those on diets (especially WeightWatchers), and especially for those who live with someone on a diet. It's very similar to living with someone with a food allergy. For example, my mom stopped eating white bread. I, however, happen to love white bread. I also enjoy cookies. And baked goods. Lots of baked goods. That's not to say my mom can't have those things in moderation, but she's found it's easier to cut it out altogether rather than tempt herself.
My first piece of advice for those who live with, or cook for, someone on a diet:
Change your eating habits.
You don't have to go on a diet. As I said before - and I know many will hate me for saying this - but I shouldn't lose weight. I don't need to lose weight. But living with someone on a diet really puts things into perspective. Eating healthier, and being more food conscious while cooking. Since the person on a diet is (hopefully) eating healthier and eating fresh food, you will likely be doing the same.
Many recipes call for small amounts of fresh herbs, or only a few vegetables. With the leftover herbs and veggies, cook something healthy for yourself too! With the surplus of onions and mushrooms, diced tomatoes, and herbs in my kitchen, I cook those up and add it to pasta sauce. Or I make an omelette. Doing something this simple allows you and the other person to share mealtimes without the dieter craving your full rack of baby back ribs. While you're not eating to lose weight, you will be eating healthier. Your body will thank you for it. Even though I'm not on the diet, by eating the fresher food I've found I have more energy and I'm generally in a better mood overall. And that's never a bad thing.
I realize that many people don't enjoy cooking, so here's the second piece of advice, and the main reason for this particular article:
Cook and freeze.
I'll cook an entire week's worth of food all at once. Sure it takes a few hours, but that's all you have to do all week! The trick is to cook efficiently. Choose foods that require a similar oven temperature so you only need to heat it once, and choose recipes that require both the oven and stove-top so you can roast a pork loin while you're also pan-frying chicken breasts. Another note about choosing recipes is to mix up the meats. Don't choose three chicken recipes, because the person eating it will come to dread eating their diet food because it's all the same. Mix it up a bit, and think about what you would like. Again, this benefits the dieter and you as you become more food conscious.
Also make sure to clean as you go. It makes everything so much easier and at the end of it all, you won't have that dragging feeling as you look around the messy kitchen. Nothing's worse than seeing a messy kitchen, tons of dishes, and knowing you did it to yourself.
The next part is to freeze. For this, you'll have to purchase quite a few freezer-friendly plastic containers. Small to medium sized containers work best, since you'll want to divide the food into servings. This makes meals easier for everyone. Keep in mind that this will take up a lot of space in your freezer, so be prepared for that. It's also beneficial to purchase a food scale. Many recipes say how much meat is in each serving, and that will be extremely helpful for the dieter. It also gives you an idea of how much three ounces of pork looks like, or three ounces of cheese. Let me tell you, it looks quite different. But, it gives you an idea of portion sizing for yourself.
Remember that being on a diet can be tough, especially at the beginning and after a few months. It's hard to get in (or out) of any habits. To create positive routines, there needs to be positive reinforcement. Be supportive, and look for creative ways to help!