Registered dietitians never advise their clients to ‘diet’ because ‘diets’ almost always backfire. For many people, the word ‘diet’ implies a temporary fix that the dieter hopes will bring permanent changes… but this doesn’t work. The best weight loss tip is to make lifestyle changes that you can live with forever. You want to be happy and healthy for the rest of your life, don’t you? Then you need to make permanent changes that you will enjoy and want to stick with.
One of the best ways to boost nutritional value of your meals while keeping you from feeling hungry is adding fiber. Fiber has numerous health benefits including helping to lower cholesterol, increase satiety and decrease your risk for certain diseases like colon cancer, heart disease and diverticulosis.
Vegetables are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; fill at least half of your plate with vegetables as a great way to feel as though you are eating a lot of food without eating a lot of calories! Experiment with different vegetables; find recipes for beets, kale, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, bok choy, spaghetti squash or any other vegetable that catches your eye. Get a variety of colors. Different color vegetables have different health benefits so try a different color vegetable every day of the week.
Fruit is a fiber-filled and wonderful way to sweeten your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt or cottage cheese without adding sugar, to satisfy your sweet tooth as a dessert, or just as a healthy snack. Like vegetables, different colored fruit have different health benefits so experiment with fruit that you might not have tried before!
Whole grains help you feel full longer, have higher nutritional value and don’t cause your blood sugar to spike the same way refined grains do. Try brown rice, whole grain breads or whole wheat pasta. Have fun with your meals, try different grains or starches that you haven’t considered before. Try these swaps this week to increase the nutritional value of your meals!
- substitute sweet potato for regular potato
- eat oatmeal with fruit instead of sweetened cereal
- quinoa instead of rice
- lentils or beans instead of corn
- pasta made of different grains to mix it up
Remember to watch your portions: one serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup, or about the size of a lightbulb, so be careful not to overdo it.
In order to be successful at weight loss, limit your intake of high calorie foods. At first, omitting certain foods may be hard but trust that you will learn to enjoy the way healthy, lower calorie foods taste. Some main things to avoid are fast food, fried food, sugar-sweetened beverages, cheese, mayonaisse, candy, ice cream, cookies, cake, and sauces based with cheese, butter or cream. This isn’t to say that you can never have these again, but try to limit your intake of these indulgences to one or two per week.
The most important factor to consider when trying to lose weight is to make changes that you can live with. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so experiment with different foods and find out what works for you!
By Astrid Poole, MS, RD, LD