Curious: How Healthy Are Frozen Diet Meals?
Bathing suit weather is almost here and a lot of people are trying to slim down. But how do you do it right?
Ellen from Tewksbury Declared her Curiosity and asked:
“How healthy are Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, Lean Gourmet and all the other diet frozen foods?”
A good question. So we decided to find out.
Jenna Swan-Gross has tried a lot of different ones, but settled on The Smart Ones from Weight Watchers, mostly because her employer, the Boston advertising agency Hill Holiday, started a Weight Watchers program for its employees.
“You can just heat it up and eat it, and it’s delicious,” she says.
And for Jenna it worked.
“I lost 37 pounds,” she says.
There are plenty of frozen diet foods to choose from and they’re all low-cal, and controlled portions.
But Registered Dietitian Suzanne Rostler says you shouldn’t eat them all the time.
“They can really help if done right. And what I mean by that is, use them occasionally,” says Rostler.
“I would recommend eating a meal like this for lunch no more than three times a week,” she cautions.
There are a lot of health reasons for following the “everything in moderation” rule here.
“What’s not so good is that these foods tend to be really high in sodium,” warns Rostler.
That means salt.
WHAT’S IN THEM
You may be surprised by what you find on the labels.
One product we randomly looked at had 880 milligrams of sodium. That’s 37 percent of what an average person should have in a day.
Then there are the additives and preservatives.
“Half the stuff is really hard to pronounce, and so I wonder, if you can’t say it, do you really want to be putting it in your body?” asks Rostler.
And since the portions are so small, you run the risk of being hungry, which means you might be tempted to snack on other, higher calorie foods.
“No one can be happy and just eat these,” says Swan-Gross.
WHAT ELSE TO DO
That’s why she has a stash of veggies, fruit and for a treat, popcorn, to supplement the frozen meals, and she eats a variety of foods while using the diet products a handful of times each week.
And that’s good.
It creates a more well rounded diet that is sustainable.
“My goal is just to be healthier,” she says.
You also want to be able to broaden your healthy diet choices.
“People also need to learn how to prepare fresh food, and eat it in the appropriate portions to lose weight,” says dietitian Suzanne Rostler.
That’s because you can’t get all the nutrition you need from these diet meals alone, because no matter how healthy they look on the package, they’re still processed food and never as good as fresh.
You can join the conversation.
Let us know what you’re curious about at wbztv.com.
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