I Did it My Weigh
 Commercially Prepared Meals
Does Flavor Justify Expense?

Written by Sky Taylor, Diet Bites

Burning money on beautiful cardboard containing low calorie meals which taste like...cardboard.

We've all done it. We've browsed through the frozen food section of the market and were captivated by a magnificent work of art etched on the front of a cardboard box - a digitally enhanced photo of an Italian masterpiece, or a Mexican Fiesta, or just a good old home-cooked meal.  

We may have even glimpsed at the nutrition label: 'Hum....total fat, not bad, saturated fat - well, that looks good too, and the caloric content will fit great into my weight loss plan.'

So the art admirers (or suckers) that we are, we purchased the masterpiece and happily skipped out the market gates, down the dusty trail to our quaint village abode only to open the box, then slam it shut instantly.  

For what we discovered was that our masterpiece went from Rockwell to Picasso in the twinkling of an eye. It gets worse...

America is Addicted to Prepared Meals Reduced in Calories That Look & Taste Bad

Although we know these cardboard boxes are equivalent to Pandora's Box, we keep buying them!

They're cheap, they're quick and they border on the rim of acceptability, and oh my - that kicky artwork on the packaging is difficult to ignore. We keep hoping that the contents of the product will mirror such - and it will, as long as we don't open the box or can or package.

Our Weight Loss Peers, the Chain Reaction of Dieting & Mimicking Weight Loss

We're a lot like a flock of chickens. What one does, we do too.

And almost-always, there is a pecking order with one of the chickens being the 'whipping boy'. It may look slightly different than the others - or walk or cluck a bit differently. This mirrors the hierarchy of life with each of us striving to become like our idolized peers.

The differences may be so subtle that they remain unseen with the naked eye, but the other foul fowls use their sixth sense in identifying the weaker link. And they keep their focus on that one poor bird, animal hierarchy in play.

Dieters are the Weaker Link, the Group Marketers Target for Low Calorie, Inferior Frozen, Canned & Packaged Meals

Commercialized marketers quickly pick on the latest fad diet circling the village. They did it when low carbohydrates were 'the in thing' - and there are eons of prepackaged meals in the market's freezer section alone which support labeling related to popular diets and dieting.

The less expensive [dare we say cheap?] prepared low calorie meals generally aren't any worse-tasting than the most expensive productions.

BUT....if you've ever worked with a group of people who are dieting, you've seen the 'Diet Hierarchy' in progress. Nan watches Jan remove her cheap [oh no, we said it...] generic diet frozen dinner from the microwave.

The More Expensive the Product, the Better it Will Taste, Right?

It's now Nan's turn. She steps up to the microwave with her more expensive leaner cuisine and pops it in. Sometimes she feels more 'flaunty' and brings one of her mail-ordered lower calorie meals to work.

After all, everyone knows that if they are expensive - then they have to be superior to market-style meals, even when compared to naturally and freshly-prepared foods..... [cough, cough].

Nan manages to think of an intelligent conversation morsel about her more expensive, gourmet-like diet meal so that Jan has to miserably acknowledge her examiner's more expensive selection. Talk about a crumb ball. It gets worse... 

Nan's high-brow friend Fran cozies up to the lunch table and immediately joins the conversation as they both ogle Jan's cheap diet meal.

They ensue in a conversation revolving around an exotic prepared meal that they recently mail-ordered that involved equally exotic ingredients such as purple cantaloupe, western hat mushrooms and table-top turnips - things that Jan's never heard of before, much less seen.

She has always feasted on normal orange cantaloupe, button mushrooms and purple turnips with greens. At times she'll place a bit of bacon in the pot for seasoning purposes and remove it before eating the greens.

Tips for Losing Weight, Sensibly

Later in the day as Jan is pouring her coffee from the company Coffee Bar, Nan and her friend Fran sashay by you, heading out to the nearest Sunbucker's to enjoy a $3.75 cup of super-low calorie latte.

Sound familiar?  It's Diet Hierarchy at it's best.  And it's even worse when Jan's boss is Nan and her husband Dan is your immediate supervisor.

Nonetheless, here are tips that Jan as well as all dieters can use to combat Diet Hierarchy.

Preparing Meals in Advance While Dieting

1. Try preparing meals in bulk, then store them in sealed containers to use throughout the week.  Nan and Fran will be sick with envy when Jan pulls her perfectly roasted rosemary chicken and wild rice out of the oven as they are waiting to plop their cardboard leaner cuisine inside.

Fresh Fruit, Healthy Foods for Meal Time or Snack Time

2. Pre-plan to take some fruit OR fruit bites with you to enjoy. These make great energy-ushers that will keep you feeling at your peak throughout the day.

Kicking Stress to the Curb Along With Weight Gain

3. If your boss is as nosey or domineering as Nan, it's creating stress in your life; there are much less stressful jobs available in the workforce where one can actually have a decent boss.

I've worked for monsters before - one who even shoved me across a board room when she was in a fit of rage at her boss.

I had worked for this woman for years - from seven a.m. in the morning until 8 p.m. or later at night, on salary.

By the time my hourswere divided into my pay, I wasn't even bringing home anything close to minimum wage. So yes! There are decent folk out there who will treat you with dignity, respect and who will appreciate what you bring to the table.

Too many times we get like those chickens that we discussed above - locked in the same rut.

We're comfortable with where we live, with our daily schedule and yes - even with the same old foods that we eat. While we may never be like Nan (thank goodness!) and venture out to experiment with western hat mushrooms and purple cantaloupe, it's good to mix up our daily diet with healthy foods that we often neglect.

Vital Five Basic Food Groups, Selections for Dieters

Here are a few suggestions from the official food groups housed within the American Food Pyramid that often get neglected, but are quite delicious:

Grain Group: pita or kangaroo type breads - and whole grain is best, cream of rice cereal, Ralston, couscous, quinoa and wild rice.

Fruit Group: While bananas, apples, pears and peaches are quite popular - let's not forget about whole pineapples, whole uncracked coconuts, mangoes, starfruit, papayas and plantains. Dried dates and dried figs are also awesomely great.

Vegetable Group: Fresh greens - such as turnip and mustard greens, parsnips, cilantro, portabella mushrooms, white radish, fresh mint, yellow or green tomatoes, tomatillos and fingerling potatoes.

Protein Group: cashew nut butter spread, jerky, roasted turkey legs and roasted pumpkin seeds (shelled).

Dairy Group: frozen yogurt, string cheese (not for young kids as this presents a choking hazard), and Greek style yogurt.

With a bit of thoughtful planning, your diet doesn't have to taste like cardboard.....like Nan's does. And when the weight is off you can proudly proclaim, "I did it my weigh!"   


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