When it comes to weight loss, many people will start by altering what they eat. A good place to start might be by checking your portion sizes against recommended healthy eating portion sizes. You might be surprised to learn that we are aiming for 5+ a day of non-starchy vegetables as a start to optimising health. One portion might be a cupful of salad leaves, a large carrot, ½ cup cooked vegetables or a cup of broccoli, so if you haven’t already…
Load up on the veges!
Try to make at least half of your dinner plate full of those colourful non-starchy vegetables, which will help contribute to that 5+ a day mentioned above. Vegetables are nutrient dense but with far fewer calories than other foods. If we up the volume of veges we eat and decrease the other portions on our plate – namely starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and pastas – we automatically eat fewer calories, yet have the same feeling of fullness due to the high fibre content of the vegetables.
It has been shown that those who drink a big glass of water prior to a meal tend to eat less during that next meal as they feel fuller quicker than those who have had nothing to drink. It’s important that you choose water to drink with your meal and not a calorie rich, sugary drink which could potentially contain as many calories as your entire meal.
Include lean protein with every meal and snack
Protein is a great promoter of satiety. Just make sure you are choosing lean varieties. That means trimming gristle or visible fat off meat and removing the skin from things like chicken. Other good protein options include fish, dairy products, nuts, legumes, eggs and tofu.
If you’re looking to add protein to a snack think about pairing –
Fruit with Greek yoghurt
Wholegrain crackers with cheese/ tuna
Fruit and 30g nuts
Vege sticks and cottage cheese
Eat with all of your senses and be aware of your surroundings. This means turn off any screens and remove yourself from distractions. Savour your food, smell it, taste it, you’re your time and enjoy it. Practising mindfulness when eating will help you become more attuned to your body and your own hunger and appetite ques, which in turn can help you to lose weight by not over eating. You can read more about this here.
Add more soluble fibre to your day
We all know fibre is good for us and helps keep us feeling fuller for longer, but having more soluble fibre may help even further. Soluble fibre absorbs water in the gut, which kind of forms a gel like substance that moves more slowly through the digestive tract, meaning you feel satisfied for longer. Soluble fibre has also been shown to decrease risk of heart disease by ‘mopping up’ cholesterol particles and removing them from the body.
Good sources of soluble fibre include apples, pears, oats, flax and chia seeds as well as legumes. Try to incorporate some of these foods each day and into every meal if you can.
Get smaller crockery
An easy way to trick the mind is to portion your meals out onto smaller sized plates. Over the last 50 or so years the size of the average dinner plate has increased significantly from around 23cm diameter in the 1950s to almost 33cms today. When we have larger plates, we tend to fill them more, so as not to look ‘stingy’. This has led to increased overeating over time. In fact it has been found that increasing the size of your plate by just 5cms results in an increase of over 50% food eaten!
Here is an interesting article looking at how portion sizes in general have increased hugely over the past 50 years.
Have a look at the picture below, it is exactly the same dinner volume portioned onto a larger and smaller plate. However, our brain is tricked into thinking that the portion on the smaller plate is in fact bigger than the portion on the larger plate. Go ahead – get some smaller plates and try it for yourself!
If you would like personalised advice around how to create satisfying and nutritious meals to fit your own budget and lifestyle, then get in touch here.