Your question was: Do you stay on Nutrisystem food forever?.
I'm sorry, I didn't see the question about what to eat. Yes, if you go back to the old way of eating (at least if I did) the weight would come back. I don't eat NutriSystem food all of the time (I still get a delivery every few months due to the convenience and because I love the food), but I eat to the principles every meal. Hopefully, I will be smart enough to do this for life...
I've been maintaining for about a year. I still eat the Nutrisystem foods about half the time (I delay my AutoDelivery regularly). I still follow the general concepts of the program (higher protein and fiber intake, lower fat and refined carb intake).
I think the key is to have a system that you use for maintaining long-term. Some maintainers continue to count servings (protein, carb, etc.), some of us count calories regularly (there are several excellent free online food diaries available). Unless you're a very short woman, you can add more calories above the 1200-1300 from the weight loss mode (often somewhere between 1500-1800), but if you don't have a system to use for maintenance, then you'll probably regain..
The only way to know if this is a program you can follow (in some form) for the rest of your life is to give it a whole-hearted try. Best of luck...
I have maintained below my goal for over a year (actually am more than 20 lb below goal). I am one of those very short women, and I basically still follow the plan - eat Nutrisystem entrees or comparable meals, pay attention to calories, protein, carbs etc. I let myself have a little extra in the way of free foods, and eat additional fruit and veggie servings. I also weigh myself daily and if I get to the top of the range I allow myself, I get strictly on plan...
I have been maintaining below my goal since August, 2007. I still get an autodelivery order every 4 or 5 months just because I think the food tastes great and I love the convenience of it. Like any weight-loss program, if you go back to your old eating habits, you will gain weight. It's a life style change. Nutrisystem taught me the proper portion sizes and to eat the right combinations of food to help me maintain this life style change...
Maintaining below goal sine July 2009. I pay attention to my diet and eat as Nutrisystem taught me to. I also have cake at holidays and other treats - but very seldom - for special ocassions.
I haven't had a Nutrisystem breakfast or dinner entre since July - I do still buy the lunches because I pack my lunch and I find them an easy way to stay on plan. (And I like them!!).
I'm not "on a diet." I am "eating healthy." But I learned how by using Nutrisystem...
I have been maintaining for two years now. I do not eat Nutrisystem food. I consider it sometimes, because I'd like to try some of the new items. But I haven't actually eaten any Nutrisystem in over a year.
I do not eat the same way I did before. But I don't feel deprived. Typically my breakfast is a breakfast bar (either Cliff's, Luna, or FiberPlus) and Starbucks Light Frappaccino, or a hard boiled egg, orange, and light yogurt. This is during the week, when I'm on the go. On the weekends, my husband will poach an egg and put it on a slice of toast, with veggie sausage and a slice of FF cheese. Sometimes he'll make waffles or oatmeal pancakes.
Lunch is usually left overs from the night before, or a small sandwich made from one slice of whole wheat bread, turkey breast, and a slice of FF cheese.
Between a couple hours after lunch I will usually have a 100 calorie pack. About an hour or two after that, I have a light yogurt or LF cheese snack..
For dinner my husband usually makes whole grain pasta, or grilled/baked chicken with brown/Jasmine/Basmati rice or mashed potatoes. Sometimes we have grilled fish instead of chicken. Once in a while, he'll make hamburgers using extra lean ground beef, small, whole wheat buns, and baked potato wedges..
I do eat dessert! Like everything else, I try to keep it in proper portion sizes. I usually try to buy lower calorie desserts, too, like 1/2 fat ice-cream, or make chocolate chip cookies using Splenda.
On special occasions, I do enjoy myself and toss the rules out the window. For Easter I made sugar cookies that my extended family swore HAD to be store bought because they were so delicious and perfect (modesty here ;-P), so of course I had to have some. I sometimes share my husband's fries, indulge in a fattening dessert, have candy, or eat something rich. It's very rare, though, and I go back to healthy eating again. For the most part, I don't miss most fatty foods. In fact, most fried foods make me sick now..
We do occassionally go out for dinner. I usually get the same foods from each place. Something that I know is lower in calories. Eg, a grilled chicken sandwich with honey mustard instead of mayo, no fries, small diet Cherry Limeade from Sonic, baked tilapia from Chili's, etc....
I stay active. When I started working as well as going to school, it made it more difficult. Starting last semester, I have been adding phys ed classes to my schedule, so I get credit for exercising, and it FORCES me to show up since I get a grade..
I am a short woman, and do require less calories than other people, so someone taller/bigger may need more than I eat. I am very satisfied...
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Best wishes for continued success!!..