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Frozen-food diets rely on packaged frozen foods for weight loss and weight control that are based on standardized portions, as well as for convenience and saving time.
A frozen-food diet was first introduced in Good Housekeeping magazine in September of 1998. In October of 2005 Good Housekeeping debuted a new frozen-food diet that consisted entirely of microwave-able meals. The new plan, based on research performed at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, promised slightly increased weight loss and even less preparation time than the original diet.
Other frozen-food diets have also been developed. Nutrition expert Joy Bauer prepared a nine-day meal plan for the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) that consists entirely of frozen foods. Commercial frozen-food diets that are home-delivered weekly are also available. One such diet was devised by Dr. Caroline J. Cederquist, a board-certified physician in bariatrics, the medical specialty of weight management.
The original Good Housekeeping diet
The original Good Housekeeping frozen-food diet consists of seven days of menus. However any meal can be switched for the same meal on a different day. It is a 1,400-calorie per day diet and the plan calls for 45 minutes of exercise four–five days per week. Brand-name products may be substituted with similar foods having the same number of calories. Spices, garlic, lemon, soy sauce, and vinegar are permitted.
BREAKFASTS The day 1 breakfast consists of:.
The day 2 breakfast is:.
The day 3 breakfast is:.
The day 4 breakfast consists of:.
The day 5 breakfast is the same as day 2 except that 6 oz (177 ml) of calcium-fortified orange juice may be substituted for the milk. The day 6 breakfast is the same as day 1. The day 7 breakfast is:.
LUNCHES The day 1 lunch is:.
The day 2 lunch consists of:.
The day 3 lunch is:
The day 4 lunch consists of:.
The day 5 lunch is:.
crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese, one-third cup of canned drained red kidney beans, 2 oz (56 g) of water-packed canned tuna, drained and flaked, and 2 tablespoons of fat-free Italian dressing or flavored vinegar.
The day 6 lunch is:.
The day 7 lunch consists of:.
DINNERS Several of the dinner selections make three-four servings and the serving sizes can be increased for other family members. The day 1 dinner is:.
The day 2 dinner consists of:.
The day 3 dinner is:.
The day 4 dinner is:.
The day 5 dinner consists of:.
The day 6 dinner is:.
The day 7 dinner is:.
SNACKS Snacks can be eaten at any time of day. The day 1 snacks are:.
The day 2 snacks are:.
The day 5 snacks include:.
The day 6 snacks are the same as for day 2. The day 7 snacks are:.
FRUITS. The 50-calorie fruit choices are:.
The 100-calorie fruits are:.
The new Good Housekeeping diet.
The more recent Good Housekeeping frozen-food diet relies on strict portion control for weight loss. The diet consists of 28 microwaveable frozen meals and supplemental foods that follow strict nutritional criteria. It includes calorie-free beverages and a daily multivitamin/multimineral supplement.
BREAKFAST. The frozen-food diet breakfast consists of:.
One serving of fruit is about 60 calories and is equivalent to:.
LUNCH. Lunch consists of: .
Allowable salad vegetables are: .
DINNER The dinner menu consists of: .
The frozen dinners are: .
The AFFI diet
All of the meals in the AFFI diet include at least one serving of frozen fruits or vegetables. Daily meal plans are for 1,600-, 2,200-, and 2,800-calorie diets. A sample daily menu for a 1,580-calorie diet consists of 58 g of protein, 38 g of fiber, and 28 g of fat.
A typical breakfast consists of: .
Like the other frozen-food diets, commercial frozen-food diets are designed for nutritional balance and portion control. Cederquist’s diet delivers an average 1,200 calories, with a range of 1,100-1,400 calories, in three daily meals and two snacks. The calories come from lean protein and complex carbohydrates rather than from simple carbohydrates and fats. The diet avoids foods such as white bread, potatoes, and pasta that contain simple sugars. The program accommodates one dinner outside of the diet per week.
Cederquist’s diet recommends:.
Frozen-food diets are used for weight-loss and weight-control, for convenience, and to save time.
These diets are especially useful for people who are unable to cook or prefer not to cook. Since the ingredients and portions of the meals are predetermined, the diets are much easier to follow than those that require counting calories or weighing ingredients. The Good Housekeeping frozen-food diet is aimed especially at people who feel that they don’t have time to diet, particularly if they have to prepare a different meal for the rest of the family. Some frozen-food diets are designed for diabetics, without simple sugars that could rapidly increase blood-sugar levels. Frozen-food diets may be difficult for vegetarians to follow.
In addition to being quick and convenient, frozen-food diets are designed by nutritionists to be well-balanced, low in fat and calories, and to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals They supply a variety of different foods. The meals in the original Good Housekeeping frozen-food diet take less than 10 minutes to prepare and enables the dieter to lose 1 lb (0.45 kg) per week. The meals in the newer Good Housekeeping frozen-food diet take 9 minutes or less to prepare and enable the dieter to lose about 1.5 lb (0.7 kg) per week or 20 lb (9 kg) in just over three months. Commercial frozen-food diets make weight-loss claims of an average of 2–3 lb (0.9–1.4 kg) per week.
Frozen foods avoid spoilage problems associated with fresh foods, particularly those that are harvested, transported long distances, and stored before they reach the consumer. Frozen foods also require fewer trips to the grocery store.
Frozen food, particularly frozen meals and entrées, can be very expensive compared to buying fresh or canned food and preparing meals, although frozen fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than fresh produce. Frozen-food diets also require a significant amount of frozen storage capacity. Recommended choices, such as those in the Good Housekeeping frozen-food diets, may be biased toward advertisers or corporate sponsors.
Like many processed foods, frozen foods—especially frozen diet foods—contain various chemicals that some believe may be harmful. Frozen diet foods often contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), flavorings, and hydro-lyzed vegetable protein. In large quantities glutamate may be damaging to the brain and nervous system.
Frozen food is considered to be safe. Freezing inhibits the growth of some pathogens and reduces the risk of food contamination. However the thawing and refreezing of frozen foods may pose a risk. Frozen foods can remain too long in the freezer and can suffer from freezer burn and the formation of ice crystals.
In the 1990s the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared frozen fruits and vegetables to be as nutritious as fresh produce and, in some cases, more nutritious.
The 2003 University of Illinois research study found that women who ate frozen main courses for lunch and dinner for an eight-week period lost an average of 12 lb (5.4 kg). In contrast the women who followed a diet that was equivalent in calories to the frozen-food diet, but which required them to plan and cook meals, lost an average of only 8 lb (3.6 kg). According to LeaAnn Carson, a research dietician and one of the study’s authors, the results suggest that women who prepare their own food actually consume more calories because they do not accurately measure the ingredients, whereas the portion sizes of the frozen-food entrees are strictly controlled.
According to Cederquist, medical research has shown that a diet that varies the number of daily calories slightly is preferable to one that strictly adheres to a set number of calories. Varying the caloric intake prevents the body’s metabolism from adjusting to the set point and making it progressively harder to lose more weight and maintain the weight loss.
Frozen foods are a huge industry and frozen dinners and entrees constitute the largest category of frozen foods. Consumer demand for frozen meals grew steadily in the first years of the twenty-first century. The average American eats six frozen meals per month. In a survey reported by the AFFI, frozen-food products were among the top three food items that Americans did not want to live without. A poll conducted by the Tupperware Corporation found that on an average trip to the supermarket 94% of American shoppers sometimes purchase frozen food and 30% always buy some frozen food.
Surveys conducted in 2006 under the auspices of the AFFI found that the majority of American shoppers believe that frozen foods have many of the same.
good qualities as fresh foods and retain the same or more nutrients as foods that have not been frozen. Consumers generally believe that in recent years frozen foods have significantly improved in taste, variety, and ease of preparation. In general they also believe that frozen foods are safer than prepared refrigerated foods.
Blaylock, Russell L. Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills Santa Fe, NM: Health Press, 1998.
Fogle, Jared and Anthony Bruno. Jared the Subway Guy: Winning Through Losing: 13 Lessons for Turning Your Life Around New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006.
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American Society of Bariatric Physicians. 2821 S. Parker Rd., Suite 625, Aurora, CO 80014. (877) 266-6834. <http://www.asbp.org>
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Margaret Alic, PhD.