Have you ever seen Britain’s Favourite Supermarket Foods? (on BBC1 a while back). They were looking at simple ways to tweak our diets that would keep us fuller for longer and stave off the snack attacks so helping us watch our waistlines.
The idea being that if we didn’t need to reach for the sugary, sweet snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon then keeping our weight down would be that much easier. They ran various experiments on groups of volunteers to test several ways to do this and here are six of their findings…
Whole oats are a great weapon in reducing hunger because they contain a form of soluble fibre called beta glucan. This fibre fills you up because, when digested, it creates a gel like substance which delays stomach emptying. This gel can also bind to excess cholesterol in the gut to prevent it being absorbed in to the body so switching to a bowl of porridge could help lower your blood cholesterol levels too.
This works because protein keeps you fuller for longer and putting twice the amount of chicken in your sandwich will do just that. The volunteers on the programme who had double the chicken, ate noticeably less (than those with a normal portion) when given the opportunity to snack later on in the afternoon so reducing their overall calorie intake. If you’re a vegetarian opt for egg sandwiches.
The researchers found that when faced with only one variety of biscuit the volunteers ate far less of them – they concluded that the more variety of food we’re faced with, the more we eat.
Controversial! This refers to whole nuts of the unsalted kind so ideally a small handful of almonds. What the researchers found was that although almonds are high in fat, we don’t absorb all of the fat during digestion – this is only true where we eat the whole nuts and chew them ourselves, it doesn’t hold true for pre-chopped nuts or nut butters. The fat contained in nuts is actually considered ‘good’ fat and so in moderation contributes to health. Nuts also contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals for health including vitamin E in almonds and selenium in brazil nuts.
That’s right, permission to have two courses! If you’re watching your weight this is a great tactic and chunky vegetable is the best to go for. Having the soup fills up part of your stomach so you’re more likely to eat less of your main course and give the dessert a miss. Overall you consume less calories and get the bonus of some extra veggie goodness.
Eating slowly means chewing each mouthful until liquefied – one course of a meal should take around 20 minutes to finish. This is the time it takes for the hormones in your body to reach your brain to signal that your stomach is full. If you wolf your meal down in five minutes you’ll likely still think you’re hungry and go back for a second helping – then half an hour later feel stuffed. Your body doesn’t need that second helping and the extra calories are helping to tip the scales in the wrong direction.
So in summary, six great ideas for small changes for anyone watching their weight to make without embarking on a full-scale diet plan.
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