DIY Diet Suc­cess

Diabetic Living - - Living -

Here are the se­crets that helped me drop the weight and keep it off. They’ll work for you, too – no meal-de­liv­ery ser­vice re­quired.

1 RE­CAL­I­BRATE YOUR PLATE

My first break­fast on the plan was two su­per-thin slices of French toast with a thim­ble­ful of syrup. It was then that I re­alised I’d been eat­ing way too much food.

Turns out I’m not alone in my por­tion dis­tor­tion. The av­er­age din­ner plate has grown 36 per cent over the past five decades, Cor­nell Univer­sity re­searchers say.

My de­liv­ery-ser­vice diet care­fully mea­sured por­tions. In my plan, pro­teins were 85g, about the size of a deck of cards, and grains were a half cup – say, half a cricket ball.

“To make sure you’re eat­ing the right amount, mea­sure your food for a day or two,” says di­eti­tian Al­i­son Massey, di­rec­tor of di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tion at Mercy Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Bal­ti­more.

Get­ting used to these smaller serv­ings took about a week. Fol­low­ing the plan’s rec­om­men­da­tion to spend 30 min­utes en­joy­ing each meal also helped me quite a bit.

“Eat­ing slowly gives your brain time to reg­is­ter full­ness,” Massey says. To pace your­self, sit at the ta­ble for meals and put down your fork be­tween bites.

2 RAMP UP THE FLAVOUR

“When you’re cut­ting kilo­joules, us­ing herbs and spices can pre­vent you from feel­ing de­prived,” says di­eti­tian Lau­ren Har­ris-Pin­cus, the founder of a pro­gram called Nu­tri­tion Star­ring You (nu­tri­tion­star­ringyou.com). Ac­cord­ing to a study in the jour­nal Ap­petite, peo­ple en­joyed the re­duced-fat ver­sion of a dish as much as they did the full-fat one when herbs and spices were added.

In my de­liv­ery meals, harissa – a Tu­nisian hot sauce – gave ve­g­ies a kick, and pars­ley and mint dressed up meat­balls. So try sub­bing in herbs and spices in place of fat in your cook­ing. Fold curry pow­der into a cauliflower mash or mix rose­mary into a turkey burger patty.

Along with de­liv­er­ing nu­tri­ents, these in­gre­di­ents can lessen your salt-shaker depen­dence. Re­search by the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion found that when peo­ple flavoured food with herbs and spices, they re­duced their sodium in­take by 966mg a day. That’s a lot!

3 USE YOUR BEAN

Whether it was can­nellini beans float­ing in a chick­en­veg­etable soup or black beans flecked with red onion Cubanstyle, my de­liv­ery meals were of­ten brim­ming with legumes. “Beans are high in both fi­bre and pro­tein, which can keep you sat­is­fied longer,” says Dr Re­becca Cipri­ano, founder of the Pop Weight Loss pro­gram.

In fact, re­searchers at St Michael’s Hos­pi­tal in Toronto found peo­ple felt 31 per cent more sat­is­fied when their meals con­tained a cup of beans than when they didn’t.

Over time, this may add up to some dropped ki­los. In an­other Cana­dian study, peo­ple who reg­u­larly ate beans weighed less and had a smaller waist size than those who didn’t. To bulk up your meals and feel fuller, add half a cup of legumes to soups, sal­ads and en­trées. For a healthy snack, Cipri­ano rec­om­mends purée­ing your favourite beans with le­mon juice, olive oil and spices to serve as a dip for ve­g­ies.

4 MAKE EV­ERY BITE COUNT

My de­liv­ery snacks – in­clud­ing a roasted pear and ri­cotta cros­tini with rocket, and spicy prawns with pa­paya salsa – re­sem­bled mini mas­ter­pieces. They were much more en­joy­able than my typ­i­cal vend­ing-ma­chine picks and far bet­ter for me. Munch­ing a bag of chips doesn’t feel like an eat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, Massey ex­plains. “But hav­ing a snack that’s full of dif­fer­ent tastes and tex­tures is more mem­o­rable and sat­is­fy­ing,” she says.

For a treat worth the kilo­joules, look for a combo of pro­tein and veg with a mix of flavours, such as whole­grain bread topped with egg salad and a few red cap­sicum slices.

No time to prep? Jazz up ba­sic snacks – dust al­monds with co­coa pow­der or top low-fat Greek yo­ghurt with pome­gran­ate seeds.

5 BE­COME A GRAINIAC

My starches used to be all white. To my sur­prise, I re­ally en­joyed try­ing the fra­grant whole grains, like nut­ty­tast­ing farro and smoky Chi­nese black for­bid­den rice, that fea­tured in my de­liv­ered meals.

Be­sides boost­ing flavour, these whole grains helped to stop my urge to graze.

“Their high fi­bre con­tent keeps you full, so you’re less likely to seek out sug­ary foods,” Har­ris-Pin­cus says. In a Tufts Univer­sity study, peo­ple who ate mostly whole grains had 10 per cent less belly fat – the kind linked to chronic ill­nesses like di­a­betes and heart dis­ease – than those who con­sumed no whole grains.

To in­cor­po­rate whole grains into your diet, be cre­ative. You can whip up hot quinoa topped with fresh ap­ple slices and cin­na­mon for break­fast. Or try fold­ing wild rice or bar­ley into your favourite casse­role recipe. You can use rolled oats in place of bread­crumbs in meat loaf.

6 PLAN AHEAD

Know­ing what I was go­ing to have through­out the day pre­vented me from eat­ing mind­lessly. It was also eas­ier to hold off from snack­ing when I knew when my next meal was com­ing.

“Plan­ning is the key to stay­ing on track,” Massey says. She rec­om­mends set­ting aside time each weekend to pre­pare a few sta­ples – grill chicken breasts and slice them ready for sal­ads and sand­wiches, roast vegeta­bles for tasty snacks and make beans in the slow cooker.

“That way you can eas­ily mix and match sides and pro­teins for your lunches and din­ners,” she says.

Dur­ing the week, take a few min­utes ev­ery evening to por­tion out your break­fast for the next day and pack a healthy lunch and snack to take to work. The weekend is a great time to bulk-cook sta­ples that make it eas­ier to prep the next week’s worth of meals at home. Big batches of pasta sauce, black beans and hearty soups can be kept for a long time in the freezer and are su­per ver­sa­tile.

Din­ing out? Re­view the res­tau­rant’s menu on­line be­fore you go and de­cide on some healthy op­tions.

You can choose one once you get to the res­tau­rant.

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