For many people, losing weight is synonymous with dietary restrictions – cutting calories, portion control and even the complete elimination of certain foods or food groups. While in time your stomach and your body may adjust to less food, these types of “diets” are not generally sustainable in the long-term. If you are still hungry after you eat, you may end up binging on snacks or overeating at dinner. This may leave you with feelings of guilt and cause you to throw in the towel altogether. You don’t have to deprive yourself – you can lose weight and maintain your weight loss by eating satisfying nutritious meals!
Eat what your body needs,
not what your tastebuds want
It’s certainly important to enjoy what you eat, but many foods – particularly processed and fast foods are designed to satisfy your tastebuds and don’t leave you feeling satisfied. The high sugar, salt or oil in these foods have you craving for more even though they may not be the best for your body.
Instead try giving your body what it truly needs – nutrients from fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, quality protein and complex carbohydrates. If your tastebuds are accustomed to processed food, then gradually start exposing them to more natural foods. You can start by eating more of the fruits and vegetables that you enjoy, aiming to fill half your plate with vegetables at your meal. Try drinking green juices to add additional nutrients and to get your tastebuds to appreciate the taste of raw vegetables.
Eating protein such as peas and beans, lean meats and fish, as well as healthy fats such as extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado, with your meal helps to keep you feeling fuller longer. Try to include at least one quarter of your plate with protein and healthy fats for each of your meals.
Be mindful of your method of cooking also and avoid foods that are deep-fried, battered and cooked in creamy or cheese sauces and instead try baking, steaming, stir frying and broth-based sauces. Experiment with different spices and seasonings to create a flavor profile that still excites your tastebuds.
There are varying opinions on whether snacking in between meals can help or hurt weight loss. Some people believe that snacking in between meals helps to keep your blood sugar stable and reduce the potential for overeating, while others believe that snacking is not necessary if your meals are balanced and satisfying. I believe that everyone’s metabolism is different and you have to figure out for yourself what works best for your body.
Many times people snack mindlessly – in front of the TV, or at their desks and often it becomes a habit to snack on a particular food or at a particular time. In this case, the snacks are often not satisfying any biological need in the body. If you do feel to reach for a snack, think back to your previous meal to check if it was balanced and had enough nutrients, fiber, protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates to keep you satisfied. If there was any element lacking, maybe choosing and appropriate snack to fill that gap.
To fuel yourself before an afternoon workout, you may choose to snack on some fruit or nuts for energy. Consciously choosing a healthy snack after work may also help prevent you from grazing on less healthy options as you prepare dinner. Having a salad or other fresh fruit or vegetables as an early appetizer is a good option.
Quench your thirst with water
Our bodies are made up of approximately 70% water, so it is important that we drink sufficient water to hydrate each and every cell of our bodies. While sweetened beverages such as milk, juice, soda, coffee or tea do provide some hydration, they are not as effective as plain water and also do not satisfy the body in the way a meal would. If you struggle with drinking water, you can try infusing the water with fresh fruit and vegetables or drinking natural herbal teas like ginger and peppermint to increase your overall intake.
Think fiber not just for elimination
When we think of eating high-fiber foods, we usually think that it is important for a healthy elimination. Eating high fiber foods also reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease and improves your overall immune function by feeding the good bacteria in your digestive track. And fiber also keeps you feeling fuller longer.
Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in fiber. Provisions such as sweet potatoes, eddoes, dasheen and yam are also high in fiber and provide energy, vitamins and minerals to the body. Choosing whole grains is another way to increase your fiber intake for example brown rice instead of white rice, old fashioned or steel cut oats instead of quick oats and whole wheat instead of white flour.
The optics of a full plate are important
Science has showed that we do eat with our eyes. When we use a bigger plate, we tend to try to fill more of the empty space and serve ourselves larger portions. We are also conditioned to eat what is on our plates. So fill your plates first with the nutritious, low density, high fiber foods such as light vegetables. Before you start eating, pause for a moment to pay attention to your plate so that your brain gets the message that this meal is sufficient to satisfy you. If you tend to feel overstuffed when you do eat, try using a smaller plate and you may find that you are still satisfied.
Eating in this way would not only keep you satisfied and help you to achieve your weight loss goals, but it would also improve your overall health. If weight loss is one of your goals for 2019 – try eating more (of the right foods) to weigh less!
Kaylan Bartholomew is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Yoga and Mindfulness Instructor. Through her company, Spirited Natural, she works with individuals and corporations to help her clients stay consistent with a healthy lifestyle, lose weight sustainably, boost their energy and feel balanced.