First of All
I am frequently asked, “What should I eat?” I usually answer with the single most important piece of advice that I can give, “Don’t eat sugar.” which is imperative for weight control because sugar causes cravings. Once you are committed to that, however, it’s time to go in a little deeper.
Hunger No More
All calories are not created equally. I worked for a large weight loss company that perpetuated the idea that we can eat anything that we want and still control our weight. I beg to differ. I was a member of that program before I was an employee and could never control my weight because I had almost uncontrollable cravings and was always hungry, on the prowl for something to eat. I thought about food all the time. There are foods that are known to keep us more satisfied. These foods are high in protein, high in fiber, high in volume and low in energy density or low in calories for their weight. Foods with a low energy density are very filling. Whole, unprocessed foods are usually more filling than processed foods because your body has to break them down. They will “stick to your ribs” much longer. Some of these foods are as follows:
1-Boiled potatoes are high in water and carbs and contain moderate amounts of fiber and a bit of protein. Compared to other high-carb foods, they are very filling. They contain a protein called proteinase inhibitor 2 and this protein may suppress appetite. They score the highest on the food satiety index of all the foods tested.
2-Eggs are a wonderfully healthy, nutritionally dense food. They are a great source of high-quality protein containing about 6 grams per egg including all 9 essential amino acids. They score high on the satiety index and are very filling. Having eggs for breakfast may help you control your appetite for up to 36 hours.
3-Oatmeal is the third most filling food of all the foods that have been rated. It has a high fiber content and soaks up a lot of water. It stays in your stomach for a long time so you naturally feel fuller. The soluble fiber is believed to cause satiety hormones to be released and keep you from feeling hungry.
4-Fish is a source of high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids that may increase a feeling of fullness in overweight individuals. Some research indicates that fish is better at controlling hunger than other protein sources.
5-Soups are the only liquid food source that is believed to be good at controlling hunger. Make them at home. Canned soups do not have this quality.
6-Meat is high-protein so it’s naturally good at controlling hunger. Beef scored second highest of the protein-rich foods on the satiety index.
7-Greek yogurt is thicker and higher in protein than other yogurt. I always buy the whole milk version. It tastes better and is much more satisfying. Look for plain, whole milk Greek yogurt and add your own extras for taste and texture. Use a no-sugar sweetener of choice and whatever flavour profile that you like. I sometimes add nuts, peanut butter powder or even Crystal Light for a fruity taste. Lemonade Crystal Light makes a healthy version of Lemon Pie. Use your imagination and create a healthy sundae.
8-Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and various healthy plant phytochemicals. They are high-volume and low calorie, rich in fiber and water. Eat up!
9-Cottage cheese is similar to eggs in protein content and calories.
10-Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils and peanuts are loaded with fiber and plant-based protein and yet have a low energy density. They are very filling and have been found to cause a 31% increase in satiety.
11-Whole fruit can help you feel full. Don’t drink juice and limit the amount of fruit that you consume. It is a source of natural sugar.
12-Quinoa is a good source of protein with all the essential amino acids. It’s higher in fiber than most grains so the high protein and fiber combine to make a satiety powerhouse.
13-Nuts are energy-dense and high in healthy fats and protein. While they are very filling, you must control the amount that you eat because they are high in calories.
14-Coconut oil is a rich source of medium-chain triglycerides which can reduce the appetite and total caloric intake. It is also credited with having a positive impact on reducing belly fat. I always use this in place of butter.
15-Popcorn is high in fiber and volume and low in energy density. It is wonderful for creating that satisfied feeling of fulness that you may crave between meals. (1)
The Dark Side
Just as there are foods that increase fullness and help with weight management, there are foods that you need to avoid if satiety is your goal.
Cheese has the ability to induce an opiate-like craving. The more you eat, the more you want. Try to steer clear of this creator of cravings. Juices are void of their fiber and tend to cause an insulin spike which makes you hungry, Eat your fruit whole. Low-fat, sugar-sweetened yogurt is always a bad idea. You might as well eat a candy bar. While egg whites are a source of protein, they don’t contain the saturated fat that’s in the yolk that provides satiety. They won’t keep you from being hungry. Many people think that fat-free salad dressings are good but they usually have more salt and sugar than full-fat dressings and both sugar and salt cause cravings. Use the real thing or nothing at all. Foods that are labeled healthy predispose us to over-eating. Regardless of the health claim on the label, judge the food by the nutrition label. DON’T EAT ADDED SUGARS. Granola bars are high in calories and usually sugar. They are very deceptive. Most are little more than a candy bar. Regular ketchup is mostly sugar. Try Heinz No Sugar Added Ketchup. It’s great. Avoid healthy sounding muffins and all sugary breakfast cereal. They will sabotage your weight management efforts every time. Skip the refined grains found in crackers and white bread. They have little to no fiber and soon break down into sugar in your bloodstream. They will increase hunger. Avoid processed, salty snacks. Salt triggers dopamine production which is a pleasure hormone. The more of these salt-bombs that you eat, the more you want. Just don’t. Avoid fruit smoothies because they are sugar bullets that drop straight into your bloodstream devoid of the fiber of whole fruit that slows this process. Again, eat the small amount of fruit that you eat, whole. Don’t drink alcohol. It lowers your inhibitions and is a source of sugar in your diet. It’s a bad idea almost all of the time.
Plan to Succeed
With a little forethought and planning you can manage your weight and stay satisfied. I am not “on a diet'”. I live a healthy lifestyle and practice these habits myself. So does David. You can read more about how I eat in my article, “What I Eat at 63”. We practice what we preach and know that this lifestyle works. Always consult your physician before beginning any weight loss program.