Keep the Weight Off With Easy Food Swaps
After Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson lost a reported 80-pounds you may have wondered if her diet was extreme. She has shared that red meat and fried foods were out, but unlike celebrities who lost weight for roles, her healthier eating habits did not deprive her of enjoying food. She joked about how she’d sacrifice having chocolate daily during her weight loss journey in a radio interview. Take a cue from Jennifer. Depriving yourself of certain foods may not be sustainable long term. Instead focusing on making your meals healthier is what will keep the pounds off. New research supports the notion that adding healthier food to your diet is more important than cutting out certain foods for maintaining weight loss. Here we share the results of the study, led by Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Health and Physical Activity.
More Important Than Your Sweet Tooth
If you could see into your life 4 years from now, what would you think would be the most important change in your diet to maintain your weight loss? That’s what researchers studied by monitoring the weight of 481 overweight and obese postmenopausal women during a weight loss intervention. After 6 months, weight loss was associated with decreased desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages, but at 48 months, maintenance was better associated with adding fruits and vegetables and eating less meat and cheeses. The results suggest a sweet tooth may not be as big a deal as you thought.
Life After Your Goal Weight
Despite good intentions, after you reach your goal weight, there are some physiological factors working against you. Not only does your lighter self have a decreased resting metabolic rate, but also an increased appetite and more motivation and enhanced rewards associated with eating. In other words, your sweet tooth will be harder to manage as you lose weight. Dr. Barone Gibbs explains, “People are so motivated when they start a weight loss program. You can say, ‘I’m never going to eat another piece of pie,’ and you see the pounds coming off. Eating fruits and vegetables may not make as big a difference in your caloric intake. But that small change can build up and give you a better long-term result, because it’s not as hard to do as giving up French fries forever.”
If you can learn, to allow yourself indulgences without overdoing it, you’re well on your way to maintenance success. The other side of the coin is finding ways to add more fruits and vegetables and draw down meats and cheeses in your diet. Below are some simple strategies that will help you get started.
Less meat, more veggies
- Ask that an entrée’s meat portion be split in half in exchange for veggies, do the same with at-home recipes.
- Add a vegetable mix of red, green, and yellow bell peppers, broccoli, and/or zucchini to a dish such as omelets, baked potatoes, or pasta.
More fruit, less dessert
- For a chocolate fix add dark chocolate chips to a bowl of fresh fruit or oatmeal instead of chocolate chip cookies or cake.
- Try angel food cake topped with strawberries instead of cake. Add non-fat Greek yogurt instead of whipped cream.
- Add packaged tuna or salmon to salads, pasta, or side dishes that you would normally have without meat.
- Try a grilled fish sandwich instead of a burger, and have baked sweet potato fries instead of their white fried cousins.
- Consciously reduce your purchases of cheese at the grocery store.
- Separate servings of cheese into separate containers and stick to one serving per meal.
- Cut sliced cheese in half for sandwiches or wraps.
Less sugar-sweetened beverages
- Replace these with flavored teas, fruit-infused water, or by adding crushed whole fruit to club soda or mineral water.
- Go for small servings if you must and implement a no-refills policy. Ask for water afterward.
- Try to limit your sugary beverages to no more than 450 total calories a week.
How have you flipped your diet to add more fruits and vegetables?