Losing weight is never easy, but for many of us, it is a step toward improved health and longevity. The first thing we have to conquer is the fear of feeling hungry. Hunger tells us that we are eating fewer calories than we normally do. This is a good sign on your road to weight loss: The more comfortable we are with feeling hungry, the likelier we are to succeed at losing weight.
There are many tricks we can use to reduce calories while keeping our stomachs feeling full. A recent study re-confirms the need to eat breakfast when trying to lose weight. Skipping meals, especially in the morning, leads to a greater production of the hormone ghrelin, which in turn stimulates appetite. I was guilty of skipping breakfast for a long time, but now I realize that a protein-rich breakfast will keep me feeling full longer and stave off hunger better throughout the entire day.
I like to soak dried quinoa or millet in soy milk overnight and then cook it on the stovetop in the morning for a filling, high-protein, low-fat breakfast. A company called Earth Balance makes a coconut and peanut spread that’s a blend of coconut oil and peanut butter. Spread it on whole-grain toast for a satisfying and delicious morning meal.
Breakfast is not the only meal during the day that can help you to feel full while losing weight. Monica Reinagel—the board-certified, licensed nutritionist and a professionally-trained chef who sits on my FoodTrients Board of Advisors—was featured on the Huffington Post this month for her easy and tasty tips. She recommends eating foods rich in fiber to fill up the stomach and slow digestion so you feel sated for longer. The quinoa and millet that I eat for breakfast are both high-fiber grains full of vitamins and minerals.
My Quinoa Tabbouleh on Pita recipe, which you can find in my cookbook, FoodTrients: Age-Defying Recipes for a Sustainable Life, is a great way to add this nutrient-dense ingredient to your daily menu of healthy eating as a starter dish or snack—and it’s full of health-sustaining nutritional compounds I call FoodTrients, including fiber, lycopene, sulfur compounds, choline, and chlorophyll, that help your skin stay elastic, reduce inflammation, and provide antioxidants.
Other grains with similar high-fiber, nutrition-dense properties include brown rice, freekeh, and wild rice. My cookbook recipe Cornish Game Hen and Brown Rice Stew, with garlic and fresh ginger, is perfect for lunch. And my Seafood with Wild Rice recipe makes a lovely low-fat dinner that’s high in the FoodTrients Omega-3s, fiber, and selenium.
Freekeh is green wheat that’s been roasted to bring out its unique flavor. A company called Freekeh Foods (www.freekeh-foods.com) makes flavored freekeh mixes that are very tasty. I also recently discovered some easy, tasty boxed meals made by cooksimple, including a nice Cranberry Wild Rice mix that can be turned into a salad or a stew.
While at the Natural Foods Expo (March 9–11), I learned of two drinks that can definitely help you stick to your diet. Both are low in sugar but high in fiber. The first is a variation of my cookbook recipe for Chia Frescas—fruit-and-chia seed drinks high in fiber and Omega-3s—a great way to stave off hunger between meals. When soaked in liquid, chia seeds become chewy and gelatinous, like boba tapioca balls but much smaller. Mamma Chia is a company that makes a line of fruit drinks heavily laced with chia seeds. The Coconut Mango, Pomegranate Mint, and Blackberry Hibiscus flavors are only 120 calories per bottle. Thanks to the chia seeds, in addition to fiber, these drinks also have protein, calcium, and the FoodTrient zinc.
Another line of drinks that can help you win your weight battle is Sneaky Pete’s. These beverages are brewed with oats and therefore infused with cholesterol-lowering fiber. They’re very thin and taste like flavored waters, hence the sneaky part. At only 40 calories per bottle, they’re a nice way to add oat fiber and stave off hunger at any time during the day. Sneaky Pete’s beverages come in five refreshing flavors, including Peach Perfection, Apples Away, and Grape Escape.
Another tool in my weight-loss arsenal is a website called My Fitness Pal. It offers a Body Mass Index Calculator that tells me my optimal weight, and a Calorie Counter that helps me determine exactly how many calories I’m consuming each day. There’s even an online diary that can help me stay on track. Typing all of this information into a website is time-consuming, but it’s well worth the trouble. The same goes for exercise. You can’t lose weight without exercising, even if it’s only swimming or leisure walking for 20 minutes each day.
Feeling full and reducing calories while incorporating the health-sustaining principles of FoodTrients are powerful ways to meet your weight-loss goals this year.