By Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. June 22, 2016
Large portion sizes have been thought to be one of the major contributors to excessive calorie intake leading to overweight and obesity in the U.S.
Prepackaged meals, such as single-serve frozen entrees, have been shown to be helpful in controlling portion sizes and reducing weight. A recent study suggests that greater weight loss can be achieved with prepackaged meals and lifestyle counseling with a registered dietitian.
There were 3 groups in the study. One group ate prepackaged meals, one ate high-protein prepackaged meals, and a last group bought and prepared their own meals. All received lifestyle counseling to guide their total calorie intake, exercise, and other factors such as social support. People in all three groups lost weight.
This study headline was about prepackaged meals, portions and weight. However, there are several other important findings in this study that can be beneficial in the treatment of obesity and strategies to lose weight and keep it off. After all, losing weight is one thing. Keeping it off is often a bigger challenge.
A key aspect of this study was an increase in confidence. Participants reported more confidence in controlling eating and sticking to a meal plan for weight loss. They exercised more regularly and reported a better sense of mental wellbeing. Their confidence in their ability to carry out key lifestyle behaviors, such as portion control and exercise, lead to better adherence to other beneficial changes.
Dietitian coached participants on the following behavior strategies:
- Self-monitoring of weight, food intake and exercise (often with electronic tracking tools)
- Realistic and specific goal-setting of specific behaviors (such as eating 3 servings of vegetables each day)
- Relapse prevention
- Finding social support
- Modifying attitudes about weight, food and physical activity
As the list above suggests, there are many opportunities to improve your weight and health:
- Buy single-serving packaged meals or use measuring cups to determine appropriate portions.
- Determine a calorie level for weight loss and choose nutritious foods in the appropriate portions.
- Set realistic goals and explore the steps to meet them.
- You may consider looking into the above behavior strategies to support your lifestyle changes.