I am also in the south
So yeah I know how it is. I make my own food. If I do not make my own food subway is a great way to eat out without having the bad calories. When I go there I get the turkey breast on wheat with american cheese tomatoes cucumber and spinach.
No mayo.. you could use fat free mayo and go without the cheese. Look at the nutritional chart there..
As far as at home.. like I said I eat vegetarian most days. I love this product called Quorn fake meatless grounds. I like making spaghetti, tacos, chili..anything that you would use ground hamburger meat it. Basically it is ground up mushrooms.. I hate mushrooms but I love that stuff. My husband can not even tell half of the time if I used them or real meat! The trick is to only use half of the bag in your meal and include things that have a lot of moisture so it can soak up the flavor. I can give you some of the recipes I use.. Other than that you can also use ground turkey in place of ground hamburger meat.. portion your food as well.. Count your calories. You can look up a calorie counter online or simply go to your doctor to figure out how many calories a woman needs for your weight and size. Just google "how many calories does a woman need" and it should come up with all kinda calorie counters. Look for one that includes your gender, height and current weight..those are the best ones.
I eat a lot of special K (portioned out of course with skim milk)
I have changed all of my dairy products to fat free or 2%.
I stick to a 1,600 calorie a day diet. That is for my weight and size and approved by a doctor.. you may need more or less. It also says the same online when I looked it up
I am in no way a expert.. these are just the things that I have done and so far I have gone from 240 (in march 2012) to 171 today (10/11/12). I feel amazing.. I still have a lot more to lose but it takes time
I am sure others here have amazing advice as well.. Remember going to the doctor is also important to rule out any other conditions you may have and it is good that they approve the diet that you have set out for yourself