I don’t want to be too cheeky, but let’s face it – chances are you’re looking to lose a few pounds. You can admit it you know. I won’t tell anyone. And besides, who isn’t? Most of us are in the same boat, or have been at some stage. This so-called epidemic is no surprise, if you think about it. After all, it’s been a long while since the days when we had to hunt for our food and occasionally go without. In fact, the situation now is pretty much the exact opposite of those caveman days. Wherever you look, there’s food. On every corner abound temptations and treats. And it seems that just about every event you attend offers up endless amounts of the stuff. You just can’t get away.
And whether you’re someone who simply likes to indulge in good food or whether you’re doing your best to cut back but just never quite seem to fill up, I think I can help.
The truth is that there are certain approaches to eating that you may not have come across – ways to feel fuller and more energized by eating less food. Even better, there are a several very particular types of food that are actually designed to satisfy with just a small amount. I’m sure you can already think of one or two of these, but let me refresh your memory. Rest assured – eating for weight loss and for health doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck chowing down on nothing but raw veg or salad and whole-grains all day long. Quite the contrary …
- Include Smart Fats At Every Meal.
It’s true that each gram of fat has around 9 calories, compared to 4 for each gram of carbohydrates or protein. But who said that’s a bad thing? When you choose good fats, not only does this dense amount of energy keep you feeling full for longer, you can actually boost your metabolism and spark endless bouts of energy. Talk about a recipe for success!
The smartest fats for satiety and metabolism are those that include some essential Omega 3, such as grass-fed rich proteins, eggs, walnuts and oily fish. Coconut oil is also a wonderful fat for burning fat and providing satisfaction, and avocado or extra virgin olive oil in just small amounts will definitely turn an ordinary salad or meal into a belly-filling delight.
- Don’t Forget The Power Of Protein
One of the best things about protein is that despite its low calorie per gram rating, it’s extremely energy-dense. This means it fills you up and keeps you full. In fact, protein is even said to trigger the satiety hormone PYY. And it doesn’t take much.
For example, if you usually choose a protein-free breakfast such as cereal, oats, fruit or yogurt (okay that has a little protein, but not much), and you find yourself hungry again after just an hour or two, then try simply adding a boiled egg to your morning meal. You’ll be amazed how something so simple can allow you to easily keep going through even the busiest and most active of mornings. The same rule applies for lunch, for dinner, and even for snacks (nuts or organic dairy are both good here) if possible.
While many people eat protein in the evening, lunch can often be more sandwich or salad based. Nothing wrong with that, but you can make it last longer simply by adding some fresh fish, some chicken or beef strips, or even another egg to your meal. And that’s far better than being overtaken by hunger pangs later in the afternoon and giving in to candy!
- Choose Organic Whenever Possible
According to this article organic food is significantly higher in minerals and antioxidants than conventional produce – up to 60% in fact. And sure, there are no doubt a myriad of studies stating that organic is no better than supermarket fare but I simply don’t buy it. Not least because the proof is quite evident in the taste of organic food. If you’ve ever compared an organic banana or papaya to its conventional cousin you’ll know what I mean. It just tastes more real, doesn’t it? And when it comes to satisfaction, it’s not about the quantity of food you eat, it’s about the nutritional value of that food.
Food higher in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants fills you up more. This explains in part why we’re capable of working our way through an entire packet of cookies and still not feeling satisfied, despite being more than full. Choose organic or free-range foods and you just may find yourself eating less and losing that urge to sneak extras in between meals.
- Eggs – Nature’s True Wonder Food
Many health experts consider eggs to be one of nature’s only truly whole foods. A free-range or organic egg is high in essential omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial for metabolic function, energy, and mental focus. Make sure you eat the whole egg – it’s the yolk that contains the good cholesterol, the greatest amount of omega-3, and over 6 grams of pure belly-filling protein. Another thing that makes eggs unbeatable (no pun intended!) – they’re easy to pack and eat on the go. I often hard-boil a couple the at night if I know I have a busy day coming up.
- Healthy Junk Food
If you’re going to choose something that you know to be unhealthy, why not be smart about it? Chocolate-based candies, for example, are a smarter choice than purely sugar-based – the fat and small amount of protein in the chocolate will minimize the sugar high and result in a lesser insulin response. Chocolate-based candies with nuts in them are even better – at least the nut constitutes a ‘real’ food. And if you can go so far as to choose dark chocolate with nuts, well – that’s almost healthy!
A similar rule applies to savory snacks. As odd as it sounds, it makes far more sense from a health point of view to enjoy meals that are digested slower, lower the glycemic index of the meal and thus leave you feeling full for longer due to the inclusion of cheese, cream or some other form of natural fat. For example, choose a lightly-creamed pasta over a tomato based pasta, don’t hold all the cheese on your pizza, and be sure to add a teaspoon or two of real butter to that mashed potato.
- Are You Getting Enough Water?
There’s evidence to show that those pangs of hunger could be nothing more than a cry for water. Unfortunately, your body won’t tell you in advance that you’re becoming dehydrated – once you get that urgent thirst you’re actually already well and truly dry on the inside. Considering that even very mild dehydration can impair mental function and focus, I’d say this is a pretty serious situation.
If you find yourself often hungry before meals and know that you’re not honestly drinking adequate water, try upping your intake for at least a week. Aside from a short-term need for more bathroom breaks (don’t worry, you will adapt) you might just find that it’s not always food your body is cravings.
- Nuts And Seeds
This just comes back to smart snacking. The best part being that nuts and seeds are extremely yummy! Aside from that, they’re an excellent source of protein, of fat, and of low-GI carbohydrate, and walnuts and Brazil nuts even contain omega-3. These factors combine to mean that just a small handful can easily tide you over in that long gap between lunch, overtime, and dinner.
While fruit is fine for an afternoon snack, it can result in a sudden energy-high followed by increased hunger. Add some (raw) nuts and seeds to the mix and you’ll feel fueled for hours. As far as I can see, there’s only one catch here – it’s hard to stop at just a handful! I get around this by bringing only small containers of nuts out with me each day. If I keep a huge packet with me there’s nothing that will stop me eating them all, and while it definitely fills me up, it does add up to a lot of energy that needs burning off.
- Belly-lining Sauces And Gravies
Many pre-bottled or pre-prepared sauces and gravies are little more than sugar, cheap oils and synthetic chemicals. For this reason I encourage my clients to avoid them and make their own sauces from scratch. Sure, it takes a little more time but isn’t your time better spent preparing healthy sustenance rather than frequent snack-trips to the corner store? Satisfying and healthy stir-fry sauces can be based in simple herbs and spices like chili, ginger and garlic, and added to either coconut milk or raw honey and peanut butter. Pretty easy – and delicious. If gravy is your thing, don’t be afraid to use a gravy powder but be sure to add the blood and juices from your meat or you may be missing out on vital nutrients.
- Slow Down That Chewing
This might be the simplest but most effective technique that I can share with you. Did you know that people who eat too fast tend to overeat at every meal and have a higher likelihood of weight problems? If eating on the go is a habit of yours then you’re most likely setting yourself up for failure in this area. It really does pay to take at least 10 minutes to focus solely on your food. Hey, you might even taste it. And that advice your Mom used to give you about chewing 60 times before swallowing? Not such a bad idea.
To obtain true nutrition and satisfaction aim to chew it up to the point where you can actually drink your food. This might take you a few weeks to get the hang of but be sure to persevere.
- Choose Foods You Instinctively Crave
Sometimes all the rules and logic in the world mean nothing at all if you simply have an urge that can’t be shaken. And it might be that your mind and belly are 100% set on something that you know is only going to provide a few minutes pleasure before throwing your energy and hunger all over the place. But you know what? Sometimes that’s okay. After all, life can’t all be about following the rules. And if you just can’t get that tasty treat off your mind day after day then it might be time to give in. The key, of course, is to enjoy those foods in moderation. With that in mind, I’m off to enjoy a white chocolate Magnum. Organic protein-breakfast tomorrow of course!
Have your say – do you have any tricks or tips to share that I might have missed when it comes to lasting satisfaction from less food?
|Written on 7/3/2009 by Kat Eden. Kat is a Personal Trainer from Australia. Visit her blog Body Incredible to be inspired with the latest nutrition tips, weight loss advice, and motivational thinking. .||Photo Credit: trekkyandy|