What Did You Eat??? Part Two: Food Choices

*Note–please scroll down to see my before and after pictures and to get caught up on this weeks posts on weight loss!

As I poured over the many comments that were left on yesterdays post, my heart was both broken and hopeful. It was broken as I sensed the desperation in many of your gut-wrenchingly honest pleas; pleas for help, for wholeness, for answers, for healing both physically and mentally. How I wish I could reach through the screen, look you in the eyes, squeeze your sweet hand and tell you all that it is going to be okay. You can do it!!! But only if you commit to doing it God’s way. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

My heart was also full of hope. I can sense God’s spirit beginning to stir in many of your hearts and wills. You are fed up—literally!!! Sick and tired of being sick and tired. No longer wanting to be ashamed of your temple or embarrassed by your overeating and lack of movement. I can’t wait to see what God will do in the lives of each of you as you commit to losing weight FOR HIS GLORY (not yours)!

So, on to our next topic. Yesterday we discussed motivation. Today lets talk food. The second most frequent question I am asked is, “What did you eat?”

First let me say that I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit where credit is due. In 2005, I walked (okay waddled) into a Weight Watchers meeting. There I spent the next 10 months, once a week, weighing in in front of someone, which for me was imperative. I did not always follow WW and its point counting system. I counted total calories. What WW did for me was provide accountability. Having to step on the scale in front of another soul terrified me and kept me from over-eating. You know how easy it is to be easy on yourself.  When I tried to police myself, I let myself off without a ticket every time!!

You know the routine. You vow to start tomorrow. Tomorrow comes. You eat a sensible breakfast. The mid-morning munchies soon set in and by noon you’ve “blown your diet”, so you vow, “I’ll start over tomorrow.” and promptly raid the fridge. Tomorrow isn’t so hot either and by 2:00 pm, you are plum out of calories (not from eating plums, but from cramming cookies down your throat or opening the hatch and downing nearly a pound bag of peanut M & M’s!!) so you tell yourself, “I’ll start next Monday.” Then you eat like a pig until Monday comes, try to start over, blow it again by noon and promise yourself… “Okay, let’s try next month. Yeah, that’s it, I’ll start the first of next month…..” and on and on it goes.

I know. We are supposed to be talking food and I am rambling, but my rambling has a point. You must have accountability. Find a weigh-in buddy. It was the number one key component to the success God gave to me.  You cannot fudge when weighing in on the scales in front of someone else (after eating too much fudge!) You also cannot afford to blow it for days on end when you must weigh in in front of someone else. Were (and are) there times that I overate? You bet! But it was VERY short lived. Maybe I ate 500 calories of junk one afternoon. But then I’d slap myself in the face and say, “You dummy! Why did you do that? You have to weigh in next Wednesday. If you keep this pattern up, you will see the scale go up, not down! However, if you stop right now and behave the rest of the week, you’ll only be over 500 calories for the week. Why, that is only about 70 calories over per day. That won’t hurt you. Stop it now, Karen!!” And my little self-talk worked! So, find a buddy! I have switched to doing this with someone nearby rather than trekking to WW once a week (a half hour drive for me).

Now for the food…. As far as how many calories I consumed, I pulled out a formula I learned years ago, but usually didn’t apply. That formula is to take your current weight and times it by 12 if you are sedentary, 14 if you are moderately active and 16 if you exercise an hour a day. That is how many calories you would need to eat each day in order to stay at your current weight. Then, subtract 500 calories a day for each pound you’d like to lose per week.

So, lets say you weigh 200 (because it is an easy number to figure and I am not near a calculator!) You are moderately active. So, to keep at your same weight, you’d need to consume 2800 calories. If you want to lose 1 pound a week, drop the calories down to 2300. Make it 1800 to lose 2 pounds each week. Drop it further to 1300 to lose 3 pounds each week. Most experts say not to drop below 1200 calories per day.

Now, once you lose 10% of your starting body weight (in our example that would be 20 pounds) stop and refigure this all over again. Now you’d take 180 pounds, re-crunch the numbers and aim for another 10% gone. Keep doing it until you are at your goal. I am no fitness expert, but this worked like a charm for me! And breaking it down in chunks helps to keep it from seeming like a daunting task. I could wrap my brain around 10%. It seemed doable. When I thought of losing 100 + pounds, it seemed overwhelming and I wanted to reach for a fork and a cheesecake!

Now, the tricky part comes in figuring just what you will spend those budgeted calories on each day. I cannot recommend one certain method, but I will say that fads never stick. Instead, stick with foods that are as close to the way God made them as possible, but do build in some treats too. I tried to build my menu around whole grains, fruits and veggies, chicken, turkey, tuna and talapia fish, and meats with the word ‘loin’ in them—ground sirloin, pork tenderloins, etc.. I stayed away from any white things as in breads, pastas or rice. I tried to ask myself with each item that went in my mouth, “Is this worth the calories?” Because you know, when you are on a calorie budget and only have so much to spend, you want to get the most bang for your buck!

Get yourself a little notebook or datebook and write down your calories each day so you know where you stand. Also, when choosing foods, think protein and fiber. Protein sticks with you. Fiber fills you up and cleans you out! Stay away for empty calories. You know, sugars with no nutritional value. Unless it is your treat. If you want a root beer, enjoy a root beer. Just save the 180 calories for it and make treats only every so often. I had one small treat a day—usually dark chocolate. I love Coco Via bars. 80 calories of dark chocolate. (I wait until they are about to outdate and buy them for a song. They are pricey.) Or I’d have 5 Hershey kisses a day. Or a York Peppermint Patty with a hot cup of decaf coffee in the afternoon—160 calories total. In fact, I think I had chocolate every day! Then, once a week, I’d have a bigger treat. Usually after I weighed in, I would go to the coffee shop and order a hot, creamy, sweet something and enjoy it without counting it. Then it was back on the bandwagon!

You will notice that when you start, you’ll be hungry. You’ll run out of calories by 4:00 pm and wonder what you’ll do for the rest of the day. Do not be discouraged. You’ll find your groove soon. And when you do have a day like that, eat a little lean protein and a salad to get you through until nightfall and then start all over again the next day spending your calories more slowly.

Here are some examples of my favorite meals:


*whole wheat bagel and a tablespoon natural crunchy peanut butter (300 calories)

*Two large shredded wheat biscuits. Pour boiling water over. Drain. Top with a little honey and 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter. (300 calories)

*2 hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper. An orange and a piece of whole wheat toast. (275 calories)

*Egg Beaters (1 cup) omelet with low-fat (1/3 cup) cheddar cheese and a banana. (260 calories)    


*Lots of salads with light Italian dressing. I put on tomatoes, mild pepper rings, low-fat feta cheese, cucumbers, purple onions, etc… (about 250 calories)

*homemade veggie soup-carrots, green beans, celery, onions, potatoes, green pepper, corn, canned tomatoes and chicken stock (80 calories a cup)

*Tuna mixed with light mayo and relish on a few whole grain crackers (220 calories)

*Pita pizzas—a circle of whole grain pita (one half—you have to carefully split it) topped with a little spaghetti sauce, some low-fat mozzarella cheese and turkey pepperoni (190 calories)

* Homemade Panini with whole wheat sourdough bread, turkey and light cheese and lightly grilled with non-stick cooking spray. (350 calories)


*Fish, chicken or turkey marinated in light Italian dressing or lemon juice and pepper and grilled or broiled along with a Yukon Gold or red skin baked potato and steamed veggies or a salad.  (400 calories)

*Or—here is the key—a very small portion of whatever I am feeding my family!!! Portion control is so important. We must learn to eat half a piece of pot pie rather than half a pot pie!!!!

For snacks: I love whole grain crackers with Laughing Cow cheese or zero fat hummus, baked Tostito scoops and salsa, mangos, Braeburn apples, carrots and red peppers dipped in light ranch dressing and Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches. I drink flavored herb teas without sweeteners, decaf coffee with Land O’Lakes fat free creamer and occasionally a Diet Rite soda–many great flavors but it does have Sucralose (Splenda) in it and I try to stay away from artificial anything so I only have these maybe once every month or two.      

*So here is your assignment. Figure your calorie budget and then begin RIGHT NOW to stick to it. Write down what you eat. Give your body a week or so to adjust, especially if you are used to consuming large amounts of food each day. And don’t drop too low. If you try now to start eating only 800 calories a day, you’ll never be able to stick to it nor to take in enough nutrients to be healthy. And, will you please leave a comment telling us any healthy yet yummy foods you enjoy? I’m always game for more ideas and I know in my case, variety keeps me going. And here is another verse that was so meaningful and helpful to me. Memorize it! God will give you a way out every time. We just have to look for it and quite looking for excuses!!!!

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” 1 Corinthians 10:13

You can do it!!!! I believe in you! And remember, although I’d love to be able to, I cannot respond to personal emails right now. I will hop on and read all of the comments, however, and will try to answer the most frequently asked questions so don’t forget to leave a comment!

Sensible-eating blessings,



  1. Thank you SO much for this series! It has come at a time when I needed the encouragement! I have been asking God to give me a verse to help me through the cravings, and when I read this , there it was.

  2. Thanks! The information you shared is so practical and ‘user friendly’! I appreciate your formula for calorie intake…I had never heard of that before and you helped make it easy for me to figure out. Also, I am thankful for the memory verses…I need God to come alongside of me to help me and empower me to do this!

  3. How awesome God is! I was writing down the verse from 1 Cor. and continued reading. The next verse (14)says, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
    Thanks for this series. So many of us need it because we have made food an idol. I’m determined to give God victory in this and let Him use me more. No more excuses!
    God bless you.

  4. Karen,

    I’ve been struggling with my eating/weight for quite some time. I think you’re right – an accountability partner is key. I’ve found a book with lots of lower calorie recipes that are quite good (I think so anyway), It’s called ” The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great” by Pam Anderson. I’ve really liked everything I’ve tried in it so far. It’s so much easier to eat right when you can look forward to what you’re eating. Also, I love that you were able to lose weight and still eat a little chocolate/treat everyday. Now that’s encouraging :-)

    Thanks so much for sharing this very personal part of your life … you’ve been a great encouragement to me already.

    God bless,

  5. Karen
    Thank you for sharing your story. I am struggling through weight loss right now. I have ups and downs. Hearing successful stories of people I’m familiar with are very motivating and inspiring. I hope that maybe you’ll do a session on this at next years hearts at home.

  6. Hi, Karen. You are a wonderful inspiration to many!

    I wish I could have emerged unscathed from my own WW experience. God took me the long way through the wilderness. After losing 100 pounds with Weight Watchers in a year and training for several marathons, I was more fixated on food and my body than ever before. Sidelined by an injury, not able to run any more, the weight poured back on my body. But, that wasn’t the end of the story! I am thankful that God brought me to my God-given ideal weight even after I regained all the weight lost with WW. God caused me to release all the extra weight and the idols and obsessions (in my case those included bowing before the gods of exercise, tracking, counting, weighing and measuring!)

    I have been struck by the *absence* of “weight” in the Word, but he does mention *gluttony.* It seems so much easier to make the food behave than it is for me to make my old heart surrender it’s affections.

    This testimony tendered my heart quite a bit when I heard it. I share it in case you or anyone can be encouraged! :


    Thank you for being willing to share your gifts that God has given you with others on the web. Blessings to you, Karen!

  7. Congratulations on all of your hard work! I believe losing weight/ watching what you eat is the most difficult task. I have been trying to lose about 20 pounds for the last few months. I have really been watching portion size, as well as trying to increase the amount of fiber intake. FiberOne cereal, yogurt (peach is soooo yummy), and snack bars (chocolate is outstanding) are great sources of fiber and are all so delicious. When I did WW in the past, I would “spend” all of my calories too, and would have to find something that was 0 points to fill me up. I became a big green bean fan those days. Also, getting rid of soda, sweet tea, etc also takes away a huge amount of calories that you don’t realize you are consuming. I’ve always said I’d rather eat those calories than drink them. Keeping water in a pitcher in the fridge is a great way to get yourself drinking it. Also- FiberOne makes a drink mix that you can add to water- more flavor and more fiber.
    Thanks Karen so much for your tips. I loved your American Idle post. It challenged me to seek God and ask Him to reveal the idols in my heart. Thanks again. I look forward to reading your future posts. Also- I’ve been praying for the sale of your home- you’ll have to give us an update. God bless- Julie

  8. Thanks Karen for sharing your weight loss story and tips with us. I am ready to make some changes in my life.

    Have a great day,


  9. My tips:

    ~Study (google) the ingredients of what you eat, when you find out how harmful some of them are you won’t want to eat it. Some things are on the market that really should not be called food. Stay away from anything artificial. Any sweetner is evaporated cane juice or small amounts of Og sugar.

    ~Purified water throughout the day( min. 6-8 glasses).
    Do not chew gum, starts the digestive process. Chew food slowly and thoroughly. Do not drink while eating since it dilutes the digestive acids. If you drink enough throughout the day you will not be thirsty while eating.

    ~Make one day all raw or lightly steamed veggies, fruit, salads etc.. One day is vacation day for reasonable ‘splurging.’

    ~All whole grain carbs. Stay away from all carbs at late dinner time this time is reserved for protein and veggies. One will loose some weight if this is the only thing practiced.
    Veggie 3 egg (3 whites 2 yolk) omelet. Grilled or baked fish/chicken with a salad and steamed veggie.
    Peanut butter on raw slices of veggies.

    ~Eat about 10 raw almonds (good source of magnesium which helps sleep) around 8:00pm to help keep cortisol level througout the night.

    ~Make it Organic everytime when possible

    ~Green tea, the real stuff steeped from a bag or loose, sweetened if desired with Stevia, an herbal, no calorie or bad for you side effects sweetener.

    ~Portion control. The stomach can hold 1 liter which is 4.2 or so cups of food at one time. One person can easily eat/drink 3-4 liters at one sitting. Soemtimes I think about my stomach stretching as I put the food in.
    Protein serving should be the size of your palm.

    ~Red meat once weekly or less. Poultry/Fish once daily or less. More veggies and whole grains. Beans and brown rice with a little cheese to make a complete protein. Potatoes are on the high glycemic list so these are kept to a minimum.

    ~Eating is to fuel the body and God made all kinds of food for us to eat. Stick as close to what He has made in the garden and not what is processed by man that may not be good for the body.

    ~Stay away from processed packaged diet “food”.

    ~Truly being thankful for the good ‘fuel” He has given me.

    This type of eating has pretty much become my lifestyle over the years. It’s amazing how your tastebuds change to crave what is healthy for the body.
    I encourage you to study what you put in your mouth and what you put on your skin. you will be amazed.

    Thanks for the encouragement to help so many get back their health…it does matter.

  10. Thank you so much for all your great advice AND encouragement! What a blessing this is to so many!

    I’ve been talking to God about my desire to lose weight and I even asked Him this morning to show me scripture that I can meditate on to help me get started and keep me motivated, so I am so glad to see the verses you are sharing at the end of your posts! Just what I need to reinforce the tips you’re giving!

    You are awesome! :)

  11. Karen,

    You are awesome for sharing all of this with everyone!! I agree, accountability is crucial. I am on Jenny Craig and it is working!! I’ve lost 19 pounds in 7 weeks. The accountability is one of my keys. I go in every week to weigh and pick up my food. I want to lose 25 more and I feel soooo confident. Motivation is my other key. I am single and met the greatest guy a few months ago. He asked me out while I was chubby, but I want to look my best for him…..and me. :-) I feel that motivation and accountability are my driving forces. I ask the Lord every day to help me stay on task and he has helped and encouraged me a lot. You are a true inspiration……I’ll let you know when I reach my goal!!!


  12. You really started this at the right time for me! I’ve been doing something else and have lost a little but got burned before finishing. I would like to recommend a website- mydietshopz.com. The bars and snacks are loaded with protein and make great snacks. I love the chocolate bars and the Cheese flavored chips. This is a great way to have your chocolate or your salty chips but have protein too. Thank you for what you are doing.

  13. Thank you for sharing your weight loss testimony with us. Oh, how I can relate to so much of what you have shared. Thank you for being the tool God used to motivate me and get me back on track.


  14. Thanks for sharing your story and tips with us. Portion control/eating in moderation is sooo important! I am trying to lose about 15 lbs. I am not really overweight, but I would like to fit into some of my clothes again. My excuse..babies and butter! I feel like I can eat anything I want, but just do it in moderation and its also important not to eat anything late at night, or after supper.

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