Day 9 of my 40 lbs Weight-loss Mission: What I’m Eating

Once you understand the concept of calorie density in more depth, however, and you take a closer look at the foods you eat, you’ll realize how knowing calorie density can help you lose or maintain your weight.

I decided to describe my commitment to my weight-loss as a mission for an important reason.

Normally, I might call it my story or my journey, or even my transformation. Those are still appropriate words because the next six months will reveal my story, the specifics of my journey as well as my transformation (before and after, both physically and mentally).

When I do lose the 40 lbs, I’ll probably look back on the time as my story/journey/transformation. But now?

It’s a mission.

Mission has multiple meanings, but for me, any of the following definitions fit with my determination and commitment to lose 40 lbs in the next 6 months.

  • a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling
  • a specific task with which a person or a group is charged
  • a pre-established and often self-imposed objective or purpose
  • any work that someone believes it is their duty to do

Some other words with similar meanings are assignment, undertaking, operation, quest.

The words we use are important because they have meanings that feel different for each of us. For you, mission might sound like an astronaut’s space trip and might not work for you. I considered using quest, but it didn’t feel quite right. I think I associate it too closely with fantasy books/movies. You might love quest.

When you set a goal that’s important to you, choose the words that feel right. The main point is to not grab any word. Thoughtfully choose the right word. Select one that is meaningful to you, and that will remind you that your goal is important and that will motivate you to accomplish it.

Mission feels right for me, and honestly, who doesn’t want to say mission accomplished when the mission has been successful? I do. 🙂

Now that I’ve explained why I’m using mission, let’s move on to the first update on my weight loss. The information I share in each update may be different. I might include certain topics in each update, while others will be more spontaneous. 

The content of my updates will depend on what I think is valuable for you, what is top of mind for me, and what will help me continue to develop the habits that are getting me results.

Some of the topics I plan to share in my updates:

  • Weight I’ve lost
  • Current weight
  • Food I’m eating
  • Nutrition or Food-related Concepts
  • Exercise I’m doing
  • Mindest focus
  • Tips
  • Strategies
  • Tools

Note: If there’s something you want to know, or if there’s a topic you’d like to see me address, please leave a comment.

Let’s move on to my first update. 

Day 9 Update on my 40 lbs Weight-loss Mission

  • Weight on Day 1 (Jan. 5/22): 178.8 lbs
  • Weight on Day 9 (Jan. 13/22): 172.2 lbs

Total lost: 6.6 lbs

weight-loss update Day 9

The numbers on the scale are hard to see, but they’re there! Sometimes the numbers on my scale are not well lit up, but you can see them if you look closely. I did not take a photo of me or the scale on Day 1.

weight-loss update day 9

I’m pretty tickled pink with my first eight days. Of course, the weight often comes off quickly at first, right?

I’m doing a myriad of things to drop the weight, but for today’s update, I’m going to focus on the food I’ve been eating (and not eating).

What I’m Eating

I’m eating mostly clean, whole plant foods. This means I don’t usually have processed foods or animal-based foods like meat, dairy or eggs.

Whole books are written on why whole plant foods are the healthiest foods for you, and how they can also help you lose weight, but for today’s purpose, I want to go over three key concepts related to the food I’m choosing to eat. 

1) Calorie Density 

2) Fat Content

3) Nutrient Density

Calorie Density 

The foods that I’m eating are lower in calories compared to other foods of the same weight. This means they have a lower calorie density. 

When I talk about calorie density, I’m NOT talking about total calories. Instead, calorie density means the number of calories in proportion to size of the serving. Specifically, it relates to how concentrated the calories are in a given weight of a food.

Let’s compare some commonly eaten foods, and their calories per 100 grams, to give you a better idea of calorie density.

100 grams (3.5 oz or 0.22 pounds) of…

…cucumber is 12 calories

…banana is 56 calories

…potato is 77 calories

…black beans is 130 calories

…chicken breast (skinless and boneless) is 161 calories

…beef (ground, lean) is 250 calories

…cheddar cheese is 400 calories

…butter is 710 calories

I used Fitbit or nutritionix.com for the above calorie data. The calories shown may not be exact, but for our purposes, being precise is not that important.

Each of the foods in the list is shown in the same amount, 100 grams, but each of them has a different number of calories. Some of the foods are less calorically dense than others, and some are more. The cucumber is the least dense (lowest concentration of calories) and the butter is the most dense (highest concentration of calories).

Let’s look at calorie density in another way, to make it more practical to apply in your life.

Imagine 500 calories of food in front of you. If you have 500 calories of salad greens, vegetables and fruit in a bowl, they would fill up a large bowl, but if you had 500 calories of cheese in your bowl, it would take up much less space in that bowl.

The Forks Over Knives website provides a good infographic that shows how calorically dense foods take up very little room (small amount of food with lots of calories), and how foods that are less calorically dense take up more room (larger amount of food with fewer calories).

calorie density

When you look at the food in the image, which foods do you think will help you lose weight?

The foods with a low caloric density. The fruits and veggies.

The image shows different foods inside stomachs for a good reason. If you sit down and eat 500 calories of salad greens, vegetables and fruit, you’ll feel full because your stomach will be filled. 

If you eat 500 calories of cheese (very easy to do!), then you’ll feel less full because your stomach will be only partly filled. If your stomach is only partly filled, you’re likely to eat more food, and therefore, more calories.

What’s the most calorically dense food?

Oil, butter and lard.

If you avoid oil/butter/lard alone (that means foods fried in oil, or oil added to your foods, or oils in processed foods) you’ll be saving yourself a ton of calories and likely lose weight. 

You can find many calorie density charts online, and most of them refer to foods in terms of calories per pound. Non-starchy vegetables come in at around 100 calories per pound, and oil wins with 4000 calories per pound.

I first learned about calorie density from Chef AJ, in her videos on Youtube. She’s a chef who lost 50 lbs and has kept it off for many years now. Her calorie density chart is my favorite. She’s well known for saying, “Eat foods to the left of the red line.”

calorie density chart Chef AJ
Photo of the back cover of The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss
by Chef AJ, with Glen Merzer

When it comes to foods we think of as fattening, most of us would include ice cream or cheese in that category. We’ve heard and used that term many times before. If a food is fattening, it’s calories are highly concentrated and is basically calorically dense.

Once you understand the concept of calorie density in more depth, however, and you take a closer look at the foods you eat, you’ll realize how knowing calorie density can help you lose or maintain your weight.

Does this mean you have to eat salads all day?

Absolutely not! When you see the food I eat (photos later in this post), you’ll notice they’re filling and satisfying foods…you don’t have to eat like a rabbit to lose weight.

To take advantage of less calorically dense foods, focus your meals on greens, non-starchy vegetables, starches like potatoes and grains, and then add some legumes. If you eat meat, dairy or eggs, reduce the amount because those foods are more calorically dense.

Fat Content

The reason most foods are calorically dense is because they have a high concentration of fat. Although refined sugar is a big culprit as well (soda pop, baked goods, candy, etc.), it’s the high levels of fat that often creates the problem.

All our food energy is made up of fat, protein and carbohydrates (called macronutrients).

Fat has 9 calories in each gram, whereas protein and carbohydrates each have only 4 calories per gram. So, obviously, fat packs more of a wallop in calories per gram.

Let’s have a look at an 8 oz portion of salmon.

8 oz (227 g) salmon 

= 468 calories

= 28 g of fat (252 calories)

= 50 g of protein (200 calories)

= 0 g of carbohydrates (0 calories)

If 252 of the 468 calories come from fat, the salmon is 54% fat (252/468 = 0.54). That also means more than half the calories in that salmon are from fat. That’s a high percentage of fat for a food that most of us think of as a lean food.

You might be thinking that you’d never eat 8oz of salmon (I used to, easily…love salmon!!). It doesn’t matter how much salmon you eat; it will still have 54% fat. 

If you eat only 4 oz of salmon, you’ll get…

  • 234 calories
  • 14 g of fat (126 calories)
  • 25 g of protein (100 calories)
  • 0 g of carbohydrates (0 calories)

If 126 of the 234 calories are from fat, the 4 oz of salmon is still 54% fat (126/234 = 0.54). 

When you’re deciding on what to eat to lose weight, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat salmon, but if you do, you should make it a small amount of your meal compared to the rest of your food. Create a big tasty plate of greens and veggies, and top it with 2 oz of salmon instead of having 6 oz of salmon with a little bit of veggies on the side.

By the way, have you tried to determine which food has the highest fat content?

Oil, butter and lard. They’re all 100% fat. Yikes!

Make the majority of your meals with lower calorie dense foods, which are lower in fat (veggies, fruit, grains/starches and legumes). Add higher calorie-dense foods, which are higher in fat, sparingly (avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut, meat, dairy, eggs).

Want to lose weight more quickly? Leave out the calorie-dense, high-fat foods altogether.

In my post, Do you Make this Mistake when Reading Food Labels?, I share further details about understanding how much fat is really in food products, and how reading food labels with that knowledge can help you make more informed food choices.

Nutrient Density

In addition to choosing foods that are low in caloric density and low in their fat content, I aim to eat foods that are higher in their nutrition value. This means they have a higher nutrient density. You can probably think of a few foods right off the top of your head that are really good for you.

When I say nutrients, I mean they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. If a food is dense in nutrients, it’s usually going to be lower in fat and not have any added sugar.

Nutrient dense foods are generally whole, plant foods that are low in calorie density. I’m referring mainly to greens, veggies, fruit, whole grains/starches and legumes.

My Food Choices

If I’m going to consume calories each day, which of course, I must, and I’m ultimately trying to lose weight in a healthy manner, then I want my calories to be worth eating.

I don’t want to waste 200 calories by adding some fatty salad dressing to my beautifully healthy greens and vegetables that can nourish me.

When I’m hungry, I choose what to eat. I can put a frozen pizza in the oven or I can look in my fridge where I usually have potatoes or rice already made. Then I can chop up and add some veggies or greens as well as some flavoring, and I’m good to go. Or, I could make a big salad with my favorite greens, veggies, fruit, avocado and chickpeas.

Sure, it takes more time to prepare healthy food that helps you lose weight, but WOW, does my body show me how much it prefers that food. More energy. Getting rid of fat. Better sleep. 

Frozen pizza, along with many other foods, is made with highly refined grains. The result is a food that is very low in nutrients. If you want to lose weight, I’d encourage you to avoid highly refined grains. Go for whole grain food products when choosing products made from grains.

Right now, I’m not eating highly refined grains (although I did on Day 1), but I do occasionally eat brown rice ramen or pasta or a high quality whole grain bread. Not often though, because there are other foods that are much higher in nutrients, which I prefer to eat.

Of course, I want to be satiated when I eat, so I can’t just eat kale and cucumbers all day. I wouldn’t get enough calories. Starches, like potatoes and peas, are satisfying to me, so I make sure to eat lots of starches.

Don’t panic! Starches are a central focus of a healthy diet, and they will help you lose weight.

Not all carbs are bad. I’ll have to do a separate post on this, but don’t be fooled by the misinformation that carbs are bad. They’re only bad if they’re highly refined. Aka: sugar and most flour.

As long as you don’t add butter, oils and other calorie-dense, high-fat foods to your starches, starches are not contributing to weight gain–unless you’re eating way too much for the size of your stomach.

A Look at What I’ve Been Eating

I’m working on taking a photo of everything I eat.

In the first week, I missed a few photos. Also, I was eating some foods in the first few days that I’m not eating now. I think in my mind, the first few days were sort of transition days, so I still ate a few unhealthy foods.

My goal is to not eat after 6:00 pm on most days. As you’ll see, I’ve reached that goal a few times and am getting closer to making it a habit. Your body needs time to digest your food before sleep. 

I use salt and pepper on potatoes and some other foods, but I won’t list the salt and pepper on my food lists.

Full confession: On Day 5, I overate at a family dinner and did not feel good after. That’s ok because one day is not going to deter me from my mission. It’s about steady progress, not perfection.

Day 1 Jan. 5

I spent a lot of Day 5 reorganizing my kitchen cupboards. It was so satisfying and a good way to kick off my new healthy eating lifestyle. Because I felt physically wiped by dinner time, and the stove top was covered with stuff, I opted to use the oven for dinner. Found a veggie pizza in the freezer and caved for convenience.

Check out one of my cupboard transformations!

weight loss update cupboard transformation
  • Coffee: Nespresso caffeine and decaf mixture with oat milk and homemade cashew milk
  • Leftover rice and potato with kale, celery, chickpeas (can’t remember what flavoring I put on it)
  • Frozen Pizza: vegetarian: onion, cheese, pepper (2 pieces)
  • Small salad: spinach, celery, red onion, parsley, chickpeas, mandarin orange balsamic vinegar and a bit of Greek dressing
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating by 7:40 pm
weight loss update day 1

Day 2 Jan. 6

Did not sleep well last night. Lots of hot flashes. Today there was still some leftover turkey in the fridge that I ate because it was there.

  • Coffee: see Day 1
  • Oatmeal: steel cut oats, banana, frozen blueberries, pumpkin seeds, ground flax, oatmilk
  • 2 white baked potatoes with salsa, red onion and chopped kale
  • Half sandwich: Leftover turkey on one piece of bread with mustard
  • Spinach and cheese Ravioli with tomato sauce
  • Rooibos tea
  • 3L water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating around 7:30 pm
weight loss update day 2

Day 3 Jan. 7

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Oatmeal: banana, frozen cherries, almonds, hemp seeds, ground flax, oatmilk
  • Salad: kale, celery, pepper, red onion, broccoli, with a homemade dressing (cilantro, orange juice and chickpeas)
  • Mint tea
  • 3 L water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating around 7:45 pm
weight loss update day 3

Day 4 Jan. 8

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Potatoes with vegan gravy and kale
  • Cheese bread
  • Leftover spinach and cheese ravioli
  • Trail mix
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 6:00 pm

weight loss update day

Day 5 Jan. 9

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Smoothie: spinach, arugula, frozen blueberries, bananas, flax seeds, water
  • Rooibos tea
  • Salad: spinach, arugula, mandarin oranges, red onion, cucumber, celery, feta cheese, Greek dressing
  • Veggie lasagna
  • Homemade carrot cake (my sister’s) with cream cheese icing – 4 pieces (each piece was about 2 inches squared)…Felt bloated and full a couple hours later
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 6:15 pm
weight loss update day 5

Day 6 Jan. 10

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Banana
  • Leftover brown basmati rice with black beans, celery, red pepper, red onion, broccoli, chopped kale with a sauce: veggie broth, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, chili garlic sauce, sriracha
  • Flax sunflower bread with avocado
  • Trail mix
  • Peas and corn
  • Mint tea
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 7 pm
weight loss update day 6

Day 7 Jan. 11

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Oatmeal: banana, frozen blueberries, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, ground flax, oat milk
  • Japanese yam with hot mustard and horseradish
  • Red grapes
  • Steamed potatoes
  • Ramen soup:  with carrots, zucchini, red pepper, onions, mushrooms, lemongrass, cilantro, veggie broth (better than bouillon) 
  • 3 L water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 6:30 pm

Day 8 Jan. 12

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Oatmeal: banana, frozen mango, almonds, pumpkin seeds, ground flax, turmeric, cinnamon, oat milk
  • Green tea
  • White potatoes with vegan gravy
  • 4 squares of dark chocolate (so yummy!)
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 6:00 pm

I’m very happy with my progress so far. I expect to lose more weight in the first few months, compared to the last few. 

6.6 lbs down, and 33.4 to go!

Live your true life,

Alison Carrey
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