Okay, so you’re motivated to start losing weight and totally committed to making lifestyle changes… but there’s just one itty bitty problem: You’re a seriously picky eater. With your limited palate and general lack of interest in traditional health foods, are you even capable of real weight loss?
In short… Yes! And in some ways, your pickiness could actually be a good thing. Studies have shown that people who eat the same thing every day consume fewer overall calories, and that conversely, people who are successful in losing weight tend to eat similar things repeatedly. This means you don’t need a whole fridge and pantry full of diet foods–just a few figure-friendly options that you’re able to tolerate. Remember: whether you love kale and acai and quinoa or you subsist on mac and cheese and fries, weight loss happens when you’re in a calorie deficit (taking in fewer calories than you expend).
Use baby steps to figure out what finding out what some healthier options might be. Instead of switching up your whole diet at once, start by making one or two small changes. Try thinking of one food you know you like, and preparing it in a more health-conscious way. Say, baking your chicken instead of frying it. Or, keep most of your meal the same as normal, but swap out a side dish–baby carrots aren’t quite potato chips, but they do both have a nice crunch!
For many picky eaters, highly processed foods make up the bulk of their diets. These foods tend to be hyperpalatable, which means they’re especially cravable due to their carefully engineered mix of salt, fat, and sugar. Part of starting a weight loss journey, then, is training your tastebuds to enjoy the natural versions of these foods–maybe a sweet strawberry rather than sweet strawberry ice cream. And this might sound a bit dramatic, but a cold turkey, full detox is often the best way to go. It’ll definitely be hard at first, but by getting entirely off highly processed foods, you allow your palate to actually adjust to and start appreciating more subtle flavors. (If it sounds daunting, just treat it as a one-week experiment). Making such a big change definitely isn’t easy, so support, whether from real-life friends or an online coach and community from a program is essential. When it comes to weight loss meal plans for picky eaters, we’re partial to Noom because their approach is totally unlike that of so many other weight loss programs. Rather than just dictate what you can and can’t eat, Noom looks at your lifestyle as a whole and works with you to identify the patterns and behaviors that are holding you back from living a healthier life. Even better, the changes people make and the results people see with Noom aren’t just short-term; they last a lifetime.
As a picky eater, it also can be helpful to approach weight loss meal plans for picky eaters by starting with foods you know you do like, and then figuring out what healthier versions you might be able to tolerate from there. If you enjoy cheeseburgers lettuce and tomato and fries on the side, chicken stir-fried with veggies and some baked sweet potato wedges isn’t too far of a cry. You love carne asada burritos? Awesome! Maybe a leaner meat like ground turkey mixed with salsa, beans, and veggies would scratch that same itch.
Finally, when it comes time to try new foods, treat yourself to a dinner out (okay, or ordering in). Eating something new is stressful enough without the added pressure of cooking it yourself. And unless you’re a master chef with practice in all sorts of cuisines, your first stab at a totally new dish probably won’t be the very most delicious. Eating that scary food as cooked by the pros, then, makes it much more likely that you’ll actually enjoy it.
The editors at SheFinds created this article in partnership with Noom.