Is it possible to use recipes such as healthy chicken enchiladas and still lose weight? And if using a recipe, how do I read the nutritional value to know if I am staying on the healthy side, or if the recipe is only listed as healthy but really isn’t? Seems like I shouldn’t have to substitute flavor for weight loss. –April W.
Yes, you can definitely use healthy recipes for successful weight loss! The fact that you’re cooking your own food versus buying prepared is already a better-for-you step. Depending on the recipe source “healthy” could mean organic, plant-based, favorable for medical conditions or weight conscious. Since you asked about weight we’ll use that approach to read the nutritional value.
Nutritional information is given per serving. For an entire meal, 400-500 Calories for women (500-700 for men) would be suitable for weight loss. Like packaged meals, you’ll want to keep fat 8-15 grams and get at least 5 grams fiber and 15 grams protein. If the recipe is only for the main protein entrée, target 200-300 Calories, saving about 200 calories for a vegetable and starch. If you find that your recipe is somewhat above these parameters, you can always reapportion for smaller servings than intended. To make up for the lower volume, just fill up with a hefty vegetable salad with vinegar or fat-free dressing.
The natural flavors of foods might be enhanced with a little salt, but sodium per meal should stay under 800 milligrams to keep it healthy. You can always add some sodium-free spice blends to perk up dishes if they’re lacking in zest.
- Debbie J., MS, RD
Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition?