I asked physical therapist Alan Tyson what he suggests for quick nutritional tips for dropping a few pounds…here’s what the two of us came up with…
1. Eat less….More often. Instead of eating three square meals a day, break down your meals into smaller ones, about 5-6 a day. This way we don’t get to the point of “famished”, which is when we can overeat. This also provides us with a sustained source of energy, and can help keep blood sugar levels more stabilized.
2. Eat more complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are high fiber foods which improve digestion, help stabilize blood sugar, and keep our energy level consistent.
Some good sources of complex carbs:
Rolled oats (not instant variety)
Whole grains, like 100% whole wheat bread
Legumes, like lentils and beans
3. Rethink snacking. Most of us imagine a snack as something small to tie us over to our next meal. I think if we rethink this, and make our snacks more substantial…like a mini meal, we can avoid eating foods that provide no nutritional value (and can even cause fatigue, etc.) Foods that contain fiber, protein, and water for instance, are much more likely to satisfy longer and provide us with energy. When we eat this way, we are not only less likely to want more soon thereafter, we are also more likely to psychologically feel like we have eaten something substantial. And we all know that lots of times eating is mental. Here are some good “mini meals”:
Hummus on whole grain crackers with an apple ( or any kind of fruit)
1/2 of a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato
Greek style yogurt with granola and berries
Banana with peanut butter
4. Drink water (or flavored water) before a meal. Sometimes thirst can be disguised as hunger, and a glass of water can dispel hunger for a while. Also, drinking water before a meal causes us to feel full sooner, so we eat less.
5. Fill up on protein. The addition of protein to a meal can increase the amount of hunger-fighting hormone known as peptide YY (PYY) which helps reduce the feeling of hunger. Foods containing protein can produce a more sustained feeling of fullness. Examples of good sources of protein are seafood, poultry, low fat dairy products, eggs, and soy products.
6. Learn to love veggies. Sorry, but this one is tried and true. Going for a carrot over a cookie is going to go better for you weight wise every time (unless you dip it into ranch dressing). If you cant do veggies alone, try carrots and low fat veggie cream cheese or celery and peanut butter, which brings me to my next tip…
7. Enjoy peanut butter. A lot of people think peanut butter is taboo for good health, but in proper proportions, it is great for energy and satisfying hunger. Two tablespoons provide 8 grams of protein, 190 calories, and lots of vitamins and minerals. It’s a great “mini-meal” spread on an apple or banana.
8. Eat soup (especially broth or tomato-based). Soups are often filled with veggies, beans, or grains like barley, which all provide great energy and nutritional value. As long as we aren’t loading up on the bread (and it’s whole grain bread), it is a great and filling meal option. My favorite is curried lentil or vegetable stew.
9. Breathe, relax, and enjoy the meal! We don’t often associate any of these things with eating. We eat on the run, or just quickly to get to our next activity, meeting, or sports event. Unlike Europeans who tend to savor their meals and take their time eating them with family and friends, we tend to be more utilitarian about eating. One of my favorite things about visiting Rome, Italy, is experiencing a meal Roman style. It is long, filling, and wonderfully relaxing.
Breathing before we eat moves our thoughts away from concerns or worries and connects us to the experience of eating. Oxygen actually helps with digestion, too!
If you notice, the list doesn’t mention exercise. I believe weight loss is 70% what we eat, and 30% exercise, so if we begin with the nutritional side, we will have more energy to deal with the physical side. What would you add to the list?