It always seems like such drudgery, having to “go on a diet” that restricts certain kinds of foods. But it doesn’t have to be that way, when you focus on flavor for every meal.
Eating well means knowing which foods will help you feel more satisfied, and the items in your pantry will make your taste buds light up, without jeopardizing your weight loss.
You Can Get Some Satisfaction
You might be eating less overall, if you learned you were taking in too much food for your weight loss goals. You might be eating healthier, skipping junk food, treats and fast food that are loaded with artificial flavor or undesirable fats and sugars. Chances are, if you’re working on weight loss, you are doing a bit of both.
Cutting back on second portions and late night snacks might be a part of your new dietary habits, but you still need to feel full enough after your meals—that feeling of “that was enough” is called “satiety.” It means your body registers a signal of satisfaction as your tummy fills up and your brain gets the message that you can stop eating now.
Satiety is an important consideration for dieters. It’s tougher sticking to your weight loss plan if you are always walking around hungry.
Certain food categories are known for their satiety, or their ability to fill you up and keep you satisfied longer. One is fiber, which is found in whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps fill you up. Soluble fiber lasts even longer—which you can find in good amounts in oatmeal, flaxseeds, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and black beans.
Another food category that helps with satiety is protein. In fact, protein has been shown to be the most satisfying of the three macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein). This might be because the body can recognize it right away but doesn’t burn through it as fast—fat isn’t used immediately for energy and carbs are digested a lot quicker. So if you want to feel fuller longer, add tuna or chicken to your salad, or an egg with your oatmeal.
Go Big on Flavor, Texture, and Color
Another kind of satisfaction will be important to you on your weight loss journey: you need to enjoy what you eat to prevent you from feeling deprived. For many, what is enjoyable has not been good for the waistline—deep fried foods and sweet baked goods taste good, sure, but the fats and the sugars we tend to respond to are not the right choices for weight management and a healthy lifestyle.
One simple trick to keep eating enjoyable without unhealthy fats and refined sugars is to make sure your plate is visually appealing and offers you plenty to chew on. Presentation really does matter, so take care to choose colorful foods, both crunchy and silky textures, and a variety of shapes and sizes.
It’s hard to feel good about your food if it looks or tastes bland. Getting flavor from color is another tip to keep in mind. The brown bits at the bottom of the pan, the char marks from the grill, and the deeply baked crusts, are all keepers when you’re focused on flavor.
Finally, make the most of your pantry to crank up the pleasure factor of your foods. Bold, bright flavors that hit on all sections of the taste buds are a sure-fire way to keep you interested in what you’re eating, instead of ready to call it quits.
Salt-Free Herb and Spice Blend
You don’t need added salt when you cook with herb and spice mixes like this one. It’s perfect for seasoning most every protein, and works really well on vegetables and in casseroles or soups, too.
Simply mix all the ingredients together, and feel free to adjust to your own tastes. (This one has a bit of kick!)
- 2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. dried sage
- 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram leaves or summer savory
- 1 tsp. ground dried grated lemon or orange peel
- a generous pinch of ground nutmeg or allspice