By Sarah Smith, Accredited Practising Dietitian
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Jenna is average. Jenna has a couple of kids, a dog and a mortgage.
One day, Jenna decides she doesn’t want to average any more. She wants to get a little more toned and lose some weight, back to where she was prior to having children. She finds a local PT studio and joins the classes. She feels good about herself and gets strong. But Jenna wanted to lose weight.
By maintaining her weight as she trained harder, Jenna was actually showing respect to her body. She was hungrier and she ate a little more in response to that. That’s a healthy body relationship.
But it didn’t meet Jenna’s expectations of weight loss.
Here is the sliding door moment. Jenna can focus on the weight loss and listen to the ever-popular fad diet. Avoid dairy. Avoid carbs. Eat acai. Didn’t you know sugar was bad for you? In response, Jenna could make a drastic dietary change. Ever heard of the paleo diet, fasting or 5:2, keto, no-white foods diet? These are the modern versions of the cabbage diet.
Alternatively, Jenna could make small adjustments to her diet which would allow her to continue to eat with respect to her body’s cues around feeling hungry and full. The changes to her food would allow her to eat less, however, by helping her feel full earlier. She wouldn’t have to go hungry.
Both would create for Jenna something called a negative energy balance. That is, she is eating less than she is burning up through movement. The first option is more drastic and would cause more initial weight loss. However, and Jenna won’t necessarily notice this, but her body would rebel against such drastic change, making it difficult to sustain. The second option has a more gentle response from the body; weight loss will be slower, but more likely to stick.
If you, like Jenna, are curious about the approach of feeling fuller from a smaller amount of food here are some meal and snack ideas. You’ll notice the food choices are typically unprocessed. This means your body is doing all the work to digest them and that will keep you fuller for longer. They also all have reasonable amounts of protein. Having enough protein is a signal to your body to feel satisfied. They also contain plenty of fibre. Fibre is the part of food that humans can’t digest meaning it travels all the way from the top of the gut to the bottom. That’s a long time in the gut and will keep you feeling fuller for hours. Finally, there is a balance of different nutrients at once, meaning your body has to do a lot of work to deal with them.
- Wholegrain toast with eggs, plus avocado, spinach or mushrooms
- Wholegrain toast with avocado and fetta cheese and pepitas
- Muesli and yoghurt
- Oats with milk, berries and nuts such as roasted hazelnuts or LSA powder
- Cereal with milk and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds
- Turkish style breakfast with sliced cucumber and tomato, a boiled egg, a slice of cheese and a slice of bread.
- Sandwich with tuna or leftover cold meat and salad
- Quinoa or cous cous in a salad with chickpeas or canned beans
- Baked potato with baked beans
- Pita pizza topped with roast vegetables and cheese
- Lentil or minestrone soup
- Chicken or bean burrito with salad
- Felafel and hommus wrap
- Leftovers from dinner the night before
Continue your usual dinner style but aim to increase the amount of vegetables of salad within the meal to around half your plate. This works for families with growing kids who won’t need so many vegetables: everyone eats the same meal but Mum or Dad increase their portion of vegetables or salad.
- Handful of nuts
- Fruit smoothie
- Sliced fruit and cheese
- Carrots and hommus
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Roasted chick peas
- Mini tapas plate with smoked salmon, sliced cucumber and olives
- Spanish bowl with natural yoghurt, honey and walnuts
- Cob of corn
- Hard boiled egg
- Small tin of baked beans
- Rice cake or few wholegrain crackers with cream cheese and smoked salmon or peanut butter
- Half an avocado
These tips work well with the right timing. Make a food decision up front. Pack everything up. Then sit and enjoy your food. Every day!
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