Healthy Low Calorie Frozen Meals: Check the Label

Healthy Low Calorie Frozen Meals: Check the Label for These 4 Things

By Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LDN

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.

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To lose weight without getting hungry, select a meal that is between 250 and 400 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 and no more then 10% of those calories should be saturated fat. Additionally, try to stay away from meals that contain trans fat.  Putting this into practice, a typical 300 calorie meal should contain no more then 90 calories from fat (10g of fat) and less then 30 calories (3.3g) being 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 individual, it is recommended that your sodium intake remain under 2400mg/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.

Want Some Help?

You can find an easy, very inexpensive diet plan based on supermarket frozen meals at iLoveThisDiet.com, where I am a consulting dietitian.  To see how it works, watch the brief video below:

Andrea Morganstein is a Registered Dietitian, with an MS in Nutrition.  She specializes in weight loss, for both adults and children.

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