Is the secret to your weight loss plan eating more?
We are a couple months in to 2017 and you are even further from your healthy weight goal than you were a year ago.
You kick off each January with the highest of hopes, convinced that this is the year you’ll squeeze back into those jeans, the ones tucked in the box at the way back of your closet marked “I will wear these clothes again . . . someday.” You’re promised yourself you would drastically reduce the amount of food you ate at the start of the year, but before you knew it, you’re back to your old routine of mindless eating, unable to stick to the ever-so-optimistic weight loss plan you devised.
So why not try the opposite? Instead of setting yourself up for failure by depriving yourself, why not eat more? Experts say eating more actually can help you lose weight if you’re eating foods that will fill you up without adding loads of calories. And here is the key: eat them instead of, not in addition to, unhealthy foods, such as fried or excessively fatty foods. When you’re filling up with more of the right foods, you’re less hungry for unhealthy ones.
“Healthy eating is all about making good choices,” says Dr. Margaret Fruhbauer, an internal medicine physician at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., and an Advocate Medical Group doctor. “It’s important to be mindful of what you’re putting in your body. Instead of focusing on eating less, focus on making healthy food choices.”
When speaking with patients who want to lose weight, Dr. Fruhbauer advises them to eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Lean meat, poultry, fish, beans and nuts are other good options which she recommends.
She also advises patients not to skip meals. In fact, she suggests eating healthy snacks throughout the day to ward off hunger pangs and prevent cravings. The hand-to-mouth motion also can be satisfying, Dr. Fruhbauer says, adding that you must be mindful of the snacks you’re picking up with your hand and popping in your mouth.
“Instead of Skittles, eat blueberries,” she suggests.
In order to avoid the temptation of snacking on foods with lots of calories and little nutritional value, such as chips and cookies, Dr. Fruhbauer suggests packing healthy snacks to take to work or school.
“Plan meals. Plan snacks. Read labels,” she recommends. “Look at nutritional content. A snack might claim to be healthy, but when you look at the label, you might find that’s not necessarily the case. Snacks with high sugar or high salt should be avoided.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled a list of healthy snacks with 100 calories or fewer. The list includes:
- A medium-sized apple – 72 calories
- A cup of blueberries – 83 calories
- A cup of grapes – 100 calories
- A cup of carrots – 45 calories
- A cup of broccoli – 30 calories
To help make the food selection process a little easier when planning breakfast, lunch and dinner, the CDC also created a list of foods that will fill you up with fewer calories. This list includes spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, berries, apples, brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole-wheat pastas, popcorn, grilled salmon, chicken breast without skin and lean or extra-lean ground beef.
Eating healthy foods is only half the recipe though. Fruhbauer recommends mixing in physical activity, too, with a target of at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
“Start slowly and work your way up,” she says. “And be aware of stresses in your life. When we’re stressed, we sometimes skip meals. Then we overeat for our next meal or grab a Snickers bar and Coke from a vending machine because we’re so hungry. If we can avoid that temptation, we should.”
About the Author
Kathleen Troher, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington. She has more than 20 years of journalism experience, with her primary focus in the newspaper and magazine industry. Kathleen graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, earning her degree in journalism with an emphasis on science writing and broadcasting. She loves to travel with her husband, Ross. They share their home with a sweet Samoyed named Maggie.