Managing your weight successfully is all about smart food and lifestyle choices that leave you feeling satisfied with the types, flavors and amount of foods you eat, their flavors and your meal and snack experiences. Short-term quick fixes for weight management usually have a low satisfaction rate. And short term fixes rarely work for very long. To successfully sustain your plan for a healthy weight, make it healthful and satisfying— for a lifetime.
Find a Plan That Satisfies You The best recipe for managing weight is smart eating and active living within a plan that works for you. Whether you need to lose, gain or maintain your weight, strategies that work fit your personal nutrition and health goals and your everyday lifestyle. No single plan works for everyone. For your healthy weight, you need realistic action steps that suit and satisfy you.
- Fit in foods you enjoy. Rather than give up a higher-calorie food, just eat a small amount occasionally, as it fits within your calorie goal and your healthy eating plan. Even a small bite can satisfy, if you take time to savor it.
- Make food choices that suit your lifestyle. Trimming calories doesn’t need to mean extra time or effort. Look for foods with convenience plus nutrition. If that’s takeout food, order a small grilled chicken sandwich or burger with lettuce and tomato, a side salad and low-fat milk, rather than a deluxe burger, large fries and a large soda.
Start With Breakfast You’ve likely heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A morning meal:
- Replenishes the blood sugar needed to produce energy. Since your brain can’t store it, you need a new supply for mental work throughout the morning. For mid- to late-morning activities, your muscles need a supply, too.
- Supplies nutrients that might come up short during the day: among them, vitamin C (from fruit and fruit juice), fiber (from whole grains and nuts) and calcium (from fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese, or yogurt).
- Helps you manage your weight. It takes the edge off hunger, so you can skip or control mid-morning snacks. And at lunchtime, you’ll be less likely to overindulge. Studies show that breakfast eaters tend to eat less fat during the day.
Factor in Satisfaction Feeling satisfied after eating your meals and snacks is important. To keep you from feeling hungry again too soon, choose foods that help you feel satisfied.
- Fiber containing foods (nuts, whole grains, veggies, cooked beans, fruit) are bulkier and more filling. Tip: Start your morning with whole-grain cereal topped with berries and milk.
- Protein foods (nuts, eggs, tofu, low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese, lean meat, fish or poultry) make any meal more satisfying, too.
Trick Your Appetite Appetite and hunger are different. Appetite is an emotional response to food. Hunger is a physical response.
- Know your body’s fullness cues. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re satisfied
- Make less look like more. Choose nutrient-dense foods such as bell peppers and apple slices that take more “plate space.” They have fewer calories than the same volume of calorie-dense high-fat foods. Just consider the calorie difference between the same size portion of carrot sticks and steak fries.
- Pay attention to your thirst signals. Avoid mistaking thirst for hunger—try drinking water or a low-calorie beverage before reaching for a high-calorie treat.
- Use a smaller plate to make a smaller portion look the right-size.
Make Calories Count The term “calories” often gets a bad rap. Calories are simply a way to measure the energy in foods and the amount of energy your body uses. Your body needs food energy to fuel daily activities. The issues are getting the right amount of calories for your healthy weight and choosing foods that deliver plenty of nutrients, not just calories.
Satisfy your hunger with nutrient-dense foods. They deliver more vitamins and minerals for the calories they provide. Nuts are nutrient dense; sugary candies and cakes aren’t. To make your calories count for good nutrition:
- Get enough: nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes (peas, lentils, beans) whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy foods, lean meant, skinless poultry and fish.
- Ease up on: saturated fat and trans fat, sugars and or alcoholic beverages.
Time It Right Feeling satisfied is about timing, too: how fast you eat, how often and how you space your meals and snacks. Try this:
- Slow down. Eat slowly to give your stomach time to feel satisfied. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. If you eat fast, you can easily overeat. Here are some ideas to help you slow the pace: put your fork down between bites of food, use child-size forks and spoons, or try chopsticks.
- Avoid around the clock nibbling. If you’re tempted, keep food out of sight. Caution: mindless snacking when you’re doing other things can add up to extra calories and guilt, rather than healthful eating and satisfaction!
- Time your snacks (and choose them wisely). Eat enough to satisfy hunger, but not enough to feel stuffed or interfere with nourishing meals.
Managing your weight is a lifelong goal. Satisfying meals and snacks can increase your success rate.