By Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian with I Love This Diet
Dieting without much cooking is possible, if you know how to shop for the right frozen meals in your supermarket.
CHECK FROZEN MEAL LABELS FOR:
1. Calorie Count Per Serving
Some frozen meals are not single servings! If you are not careful, you may be eating more calories then you realize. Unless you are buying the meal to split with others, it's best to pick a single serving sized meal.
To lose weight without getting hungry, select a meal that is between 250 and 375 calories (single serving) and make sure to supplement each day with some fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy to provide the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.
2. Amount and Type of Fat
Not only are the calories important, but so is the amount and type of fat found in the food. Try to look for meals where less then 30% of the calories are coming from fat, with no more then 10% of calories coming from saturated fat. For example, a typical 300 calorie meal should contain no more then 90 calories from fat (10g of fat) and less then 30 calories (3.3g) from saturated fat.
3. Amount of Sodium
Ideally, a frozen meal should contain less than 600mg of sodium. For larger frozen meals, or meals that balance off the sodium content with a high potassium content (lots of veggies), it’s okay to go up to 650mg of sodium.
For a healthy adult, it is recommended that your sodium intake remain under 2300mg/day. This amount may sound like a lot but the average American diet contains lots of sodium, and this number can be reached very quickly.
4. Fiber Content
Consuming a meal that is high in fiber can help you feel fuller faster and keep you satisfied longer. If the frozen meal you choose is not very high in fiber, you can always add vegetables, or eat them on the side (I don't mean french fries or anything slathered in high-fat dressing!)
Adding vegetables will allow you to have more food without adding a lot of additional calories and the amount of fiber being consumed will greatly increase.