Eat more, weigh less

Eat your way to a better body with these simple tips

by
Brenda Cousineau has dieted for years. But the 45-year-old from Vancouver always got fed up with programs that left her feeling hungry. When she started eating dishfuls of high-fibre cereal, lean protein, low-fat dairy and lots of fruit and vegetables, she dropped 20 pounds and two dress sizes in two months. And she never felt deprived. “I was so used to thinking I could only eat little bits of food,” says Cousineau.

Eat more, weigh less
That line could be straight out of a tabloid. But in this case, it’s true. If you want to slim down without resorting to teensy servings and a gurgling stomach, simply eat larger portions of lower-calorie foods. “Feeling full is the key to successful weight control,” says Debbie MacLellan, an associate professor in the department of family and nutritional sciences at the University of Prince Edward Island.

So, what’s the science behind this common-sense idea?
In her book The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan: Feel Full on Fewer Calories! (HarperCollins), Barbara Rolls, a nutrition professor at Pennsylvania State University, shows that many women eat about three pounds of food every day. So, if you eat those three pounds but reduce the calories, you can lose weight without feeling hungry. (To figure out which foods are best, see Spot the low-cal option)

Eating generous portions helps in many ways
Seeing a reasonably sized serving is much more satisfying than looking at typical diet-sized portions most people associate with healthy eating. Plus, the more you smell, taste, chew and swallow, the more your body signals your brain that you’re getting fed. As that larger amount of food moves into your stomach, stretch receptors are activated, which also gives you that full feeling. Finally, your digestive system triggers more of a hormone called cholecystokinin, which tells your brain you’ve had enough.

Looking at that plateful of food is likely the most crucial signal of all, says Rolls. “Visual cues seem to override our physical cues because it takes your body about 15 or 20 minutes to realize it’s full.” Check out our eye-opening comparisons of typical meals. Why should you have to choose between quantity and quality? Here, you get both. You deserve it!

Lunch

What’s the difference?
A Wendy’s Chicken BLT (see below) salad does have lots of good stuff in it, but the bacon, cheese, dressing and croutons turn it into the caloric equivalent of almost two burgers with the works. Try an all-veggie salad instead, using half the dressing on the salad and half on the potato. Get your protein from a tasty cup of beef-and-beans chili. The beans are packed with healthy nutrients such as folate and iron, as well as five grams of fibre.

Bonus Potatoes get a bad rap in our carb-phobic world, but they’re a healthy choice when they’re not slathered in fatty toppings. Plus, this skin-on potato contains even more fibre (seven grams) than the chili and is rich in nutrients such as potassium and vitamin C.

Dinner

What’s the difference?
Talk about a pasta makeover: the same cup of cooked spaghetti (
see below) makes a generous-sized meal when it’s topped with chicken and vegetables rather than rich alfredo sauce and fatty sausage. Give whole wheat pasta a try—it’s lower in calories and packs more than twice as much fibre as regular noodles. And skip the sugary wine cooler: raise a heart-healthy glass of the real thing instead.

Bonus Herbs, particularly oregano, are antioxidant stars that help protect against cancer, heart disease and stroke. Just a tablespoon (15 mL) of fresh oregano contains the same amount of antioxidants as a medium-size apple. Other super sources include dill, thyme, rosemary and peppermint.

Snack

What’s the difference?
While jelly beans (
see below) are low in fat, they’re almost all sugar. Hard candy occupies your taste buds and delivers intense flavour for relatively few calories.

Bonus Get your fibre the delicious way. Just ½ cup (125 mL) of raspberries contains four grams of fibre, the same amount found in 1 cup (250 mL) of cooked oatmeal.

Dessert

What’s the difference?
That processed cupcake (
see below) is a nutritional wasteland. Treat yourself to chocolate frozen yogurt instead.

Bonus Lower-fat dairy turns up your body’s fat-burning ability. A study from the University of Tennessee found that three six-ounce servings of low-fat yogurt a day were effective at zapping inches from the waist when combined with a low-cal diet. (Carrying excess belly weight puts you at an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer.)

Party favourites

What’s the difference?
A jigger of liquor (1½ oz of rum, vodka, gin or whisky) contains about the same calories as 12 ounces (355 mL) of light beer (
see below). Mixing liquor with fruit juice or pop adds up to one calorie-intensive drink—or two, when you consider that ours is a four ounce serving and most are eight.

Bonus A glass of wine or beer may slash your risk of developing diabetes by up to 58 per cent if you’re under 50, according to a British study. One drink a day may enhance your sensitivity to insulin, keeping your blood sugar regulated. More drinks may increase your chances of disease.

Spot the low-cal option

You don’t need to whip out a calculator to be aware of energy-dense high-calorie foods. Here’s how to tell which foods you can afford to eat more of:

Look for water
Water adds volume to food without adding calories. Choose colourful fruit and vegetables, whole grains cooked in water and broth-based soups. (Avoid prepared soups with more than 350 milligrams of sodium per serving.) Don’t try to dilute the calories in your cheesecake by drinking water with it, though: your body treats water within food as food (which satisfies hunger), and a glass of water as a drink (which satisfies thirst).

Look for fibre
Fibre adds bulk to food and helps fill you up without extra calories. As well, fibre-rich foods tend to take longer to chew, so your brain has a chance to catch up with your body and tell you it’s had enough. They also take longer to digest, so you feel full longer. Choose whole grain bread and flour, brown rice, beans, and fruit and veggies such as apples, spinach and peas.

Look for air
While eating a lot of fluffy air-filled foods is not a good idea for obvious reasons (urrp), you can occasionally add air so your body thinks it’s getting a larger amount than it actually is.