Eat­ing well

Go for food that helps you keep stock of weight loss.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By IN­DRA BALARATNAM

ONE thing I of­ten ob­serve from peo­ple who are try­ing to lose weight is that their va­ri­ety of foods be­come limited. I wouldn’t com­plain if they were cut­ting out snack foods. But what trou­bles me is that they de­prive them­selves of whole­some food. They pre­sume that it makes them gain weight. Grains – too much carbs. Milk – too creamy. Choco­late – too fat­ten­ing. Does this sound fa­mil­iar?

Be­lieve me when I say that in­clud­ing these foods in your daily diet can help you to stay on track bet­ter. When you re­strict them, it will only cause you to crave for them more. At some point, that crav­ing is go­ing to get the bet­ter of you. Even­tu­ally, it’ll send you back to square one.

A more sen­si­ble ap­proach is not to cut out these foods com­pletely. In fact, as you em­bark on your weight loss jour­ney, choos­ing high qual­ity, nu­tri­tious foods is some­thing you must bear in mind. Eat­ing more healthy op­tions is the foun­da­tion of los­ing weight and keep­ing the kgs off.

Here are some foods you should not dis­miss in help­ing you reach your tar­get weight:


It’s com­mon to see peo­ple who want to lose weight cut out rice to­tally from their diet. They have con­vinced them­selves that it is the rice that made them over­weight to be­gin with. Here is where you need to get real – how much rice were you eat­ing be­fore? Also, many pop­u­lar Malaysian dishes such as nasi lemak, chicken rice and fried rice are rice-based. The cook­ing method has added oil to these rice dishes, so they be­come high in calo­ries and fat.

Rice is a car­bo­hy­drate. When you eat it, your brain re­leases sero­tonin. It is a neuro-trans­mit­ter that pro­motes a feel­ing of calm­ness and sat­is­fac­tion. When sero­tonin lev­els are ideal, you’re

Brown rice has a higher fi­bre con­tent, so it helps you to stay full longer. less prone to feel­ing emo­tion­ally down. Many peo­ple, when they feel down, have a ten­dency to be­come emo­tional eaters. And herein lies their down­fall.

Do it right: Even if your goal is to shed some kgs, don’t to­tally cut out rice. In­stead of hav­ing a moun­tain­ful of rice on your plate as the star at­trac­tion, let it play a sup­port­ing role. A sen­si­ble por­tion of rice, if you’re watch­ing your weight, would be one cup of cooked rice, roughly a fist­ful. Al­ways com­ple­ment your serv­ing of rice with plenty of veg­eta­bles and mod­er­ate amounts of lean pro­tein in the form of meat, fish, beans or egg.

As you down­size your nor­mal rice por­tions, why not give brown rice a try? Its higher fi­bre con­tent helps you to stay full even when eat­ing a small por­tion.


Whole­grain is an­other car­bo­hy­drate that doesn’t get the re­spect it de­serves. Whole­grain foods are made from whole­wheat, corn, oats, bar­ley and rice, to name a few. From wholegrains, you get bread, break­fast ce­re­als, pasta and noo­dles. With weight loss fad di­ets telling peo­ple to go low-carb, wholegrains of­ten get over­looked. But wholegrains are high in fi­bre and rich in vi­ta­mins and min­er­als.

For those who want to lose weight, choos­ing foods high in fi­bre will help them to stay full longer. So even as you cut down your por­tions, the high fi­bre con­tent of wholegrains will have you feel­ing full and sat­is­fied.

Do it right: Add whole­grain food choices to your meals to help you slim down with­out feel­ing hun­gry:

> Start your day with whole­grain break­fast ce­re­als.

> Choose whole­meal breads for your sand­wiches.

> For a health­ier dessert, choose bubur gan­dum.

> Add bar­ley pearls while cook­ing your soups.

> Use oats to make lightly sweet or savoury por­ridge.

Milk and dairy prod­ucts

Milk and dairy prod­ucts of­ten don’t go down well with peo­ple want­ing to lose weight, be­cause they feel it is too creamy and rich. But dairy prod­ucts are a nat­u­rally su­pe­rior source of pro­tein and cal­cium. Most of you are aware that cal­cium is im­por­tant for strong bones and teeth. But where weight loss is concerned, it plays an­other im­por­tant role. Not get­ting enough cal­cium can trig­ger the re­lease of the hor­mone cal­citriol that causes your body to store fat.

Do it right: Aim to get two to three serv­ings of milk and dairy prod­ucts each day. Se­lect low-fat or skim dairy choices to cut down on the sat­u­rated fat con­tent. Pick and choose all types of dairy prod­ucts to add va­ri­ety. Just re­mem­ber that por­tion-wise, one cup of milk is equiv­a­lent to one slice of cheese or a small car­ton of yo­gurt.

Here are some waist­line­friendly ways to en­joy your milk and dairy prod­ucts:

> Add milk or yo­gurt to your whole­grain break­fast ce­real to make it a com­plete meal of car­bo­hy­drates and pro­tein.

> Blend yo­gurt and milk with fresh fruit to make a smoothie. It’s a good way to use up fruit that is get­ting too ripe.

> Use cheese with whole­grain bread to make a quick sandwich.

> For a pro­tein-rich sweet treat, have low-fat yo­gurt with fruit.


Do you know that choco­late is one of the most craved foods? Tell that to 97% of the fe­male pop­u­la­tion, who re­searchers say ex­pe­ri­ence choco­late crav­ings. No one re­ally knows why, but sci­en­tists are un­cov­er­ing con­nec­tions that choco­late helps to el­e­vate moods and gen­er­ally gives you that “feel good” fac­tor. For the clients I see, giv­ing up choco­late in their quest to lose weight is as ex­cru­ci­at­ing as get­ting their mo­lar re­moved.

So this is my take on it – in the grand scheme of things, al­low­ing your­self a small choco­late treat when­ever you want one can be good for keep­ing you on track. You wouldn’t crave what you don’t de­prive your­self of. And if you have it reg­u­larly, you wouldn’t feel the need to binge.

Do it right: Choco­late is high in fat, so a lit­tle goes a long way. Dark choco­late has less milk and cream than milk choco­late – a bet­ter choice for slim­mers. A sen­si­ble choco­late treat por­tion is about three to four small squares. I sug­gest you break off these squares and leave the rest of the choco­late bar in the fridge. Make a nice cup of tea and have a re­lax­ing moment slowly savour­ing your choco­late. It will sat­isfy your crav­ing bet­ter than just mind­lessly gob­bling down a choco­late bar while driv­ing.

If it’s the choco­late flavour you en­joy, con­sider other healthy op­tions with a touch of choco­late. Con­sider choco­late-flavoured whole­grain ce­real, low-fat choco­late milk or a tea­spoon­ful of choco­late spread on whole­grain bread.

So re­mem­ber, don’t dis­count these foods if you en­joy them. Have them, but be aware of the por­tions. Be­ing smart and sen­si­ble will see you com­ing out the win­ner at the weight loss fin­ish­ing line! – Ar­ti­cle cour­tesy of Nes­tle Fit­nesse ‘Shape Up Your Life­style’ n In­dra Balaratnam is a con­sul­tant di­eti­tian.

Healthy grains:

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