If you have a goal of eating just 1,200 calories a day, you are most likely trying to lose weight. According to the Mayo Clinic Women's Healthsource publication, 1,200 calories is the fewest number of calories a healthy woman should eat when trying to lose weight, and a man should not drop below 1,400 calories. It can become difficult to eat enough food to supply your body with the nutrients it needs if you do not consume enough food. Carefully plan your menus to ensure you get adequate nutrition when bringing your calorie level down to 1,200.
Examine your eating patterns in terms of nutritional and caloric value. Write down your food intake for a week, and calculate how many calories you need to cut to bring your caloric intake down to 1,200. Categorize the foods into two columns:, keep and avoid. Avoid fried foods, high-fat desserts, restaurant meals, candy, caloric beverages and high-calorie packaged foods. Keep vegetables, fruits, lean meats, reduced-calorie breads and small amounts of healthy fats.
Begin every morning by eating breakfast and recording the calories consumed. Do not skip breakfast to save calories. The Weight-Control Information Network says when you skip breakfast, you may overeat later in the day due to hunger. Eat a filling breakfast, like one serving of whole-grain cereal with skim milk, cooked oatmeal, or a breakfast burrito filled with a cooked egg white and rolled in a high-fiber wrap. Keep your breakfast calories between 250 and 300.
Eat nutrient-dense foods for lunch that will help you get through the afternoon. Eat half a pita sandwich filled with tuna prepared with lemon juice instead of mayonnaise. Make a salad at home, and use flavored vinegars or fat-free dressing. Add a bit of protein to your salad such as grilled chicken strips or one ounce of reduced fat cheese. Include vegetables and fruit with your lunches, such as baby carrot sticks, fresh cauliflower and broccoli, apples and bananas. Record your calories and keep your calories to 300 to 400 for lunch.
Plan healthy, low-calorie snacks in advance. Try to skip your morning snack, and just have an afternoon snack. Choose snacks that are 100 calories or less, but avoid packaged snacks, as they offer little nutritional value. Instead, choose a light cheese stick rolled in one piece of low-sodium lunch meat, a 35-calorie fat-free spreadable cheese wedge with five crackers or fruit. Microwave a snack-size bag of popcorn. Remember to record your snack calories.
Eat dinner at home instead of a restaurant. Lower the calories by substituting high-fat, high-calorie foods with better alternatives. Follow the recommendations of the National Institutes of Health and use fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream when you eat potatoes. Eat lean, baked chicken or turkey instead of beef. Dress pasta with marinara sauce instead of white sauce, and avoid baked goods. Instead of casseroles, make single 3-ounce servings of meat and serve with salad, vegetables and a fruit for dessert. Keep your dinner calories under 400.
Track your calories throughout the day rather than just at night.
Use an online tracker or manually record your calories in a notebook.
Plan in advance for special occasions by eating lighter during the day.
Measure your food for accurate portion control.
Consult with your doctor before beginning a weight-loss program or cutting your calories drastically.