January is all about getting back in shape or at least normality after the indulgent holidays.
It is important to reduce empty calories from processed foods, leave treats for the weekend and at the same time increase nutrient dense, immune system supporting foods. If you are used to that full-belly feeling, here are a few tips to help you feel fuller without the extra calories.
Chew Your Food
Your brain can take 10-15 minutes to register that there is food coming into your tummy. By that time you can be stuffed without realizing it! A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that chewing your food 40 times instead of the typical 15 chews resulted in 12% fewer calories being ingested. Chewing also helps you enjoy your meal more and reduce digestive discomforts.
Use Spices Instead of Sauces
We all look for ways to add some extra flavour to an otherwise bland meal. Instead of going the sauce route, why not use spices and herbs? Try basil, thyme, rosemary, caraway, cumin, ginger – even cayenne pepper if you like a bit of heat!
Besides improving the taste of your food, they help to fight bad bacteria and yeasts, improve your digestion and liver function and help to reduce inflammation and pain you might have. Add them to stews, soups, salads, rice, pan-fried or steamed fish and meats.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber adds bulk and weight to your meals. It also slows down their digestion, giving your enzymes a chance to work more efficiently, keep you fuller for longer and help to normalize blood sugar levels. Fiber expands in your stomach – filling you up so that there’s little room for more food. It is important to choose the right fiber as harsh ones like wheat bran can cause digestive discomforts. Go for ground flax seeds and fiber-rich wholegrains, pulses, fruits and vegetables.
Your brain can actually confuse thirst with hunger. Your digestive juices require liquids, but timing is crucial, not to dilute them. Drink half an hour before your meals to make sure you are well hydrated and eat less, then wait an hour after meals before you have that “cuppa” to ensure optimum digestion.
Mind your cooking methods
The way you prepare your food can have a dramatic impact on your calorie and nutrient intake. Any cooking method that adds calories (like frying) will work against your weight loss goals and also load you with cell-damaging molecules due to high temperatures. Try steaming, sautéing and poaching as much as possible.
Divide and rule
Fill half your lunch and dinner plates with low calorie, nutrient and fiber rich vegetables jazzed up with herbs and spices for diversity.
It will give your tummy that satisfying full feeling without piling up the pounds and nourish your cells, your health-giving gut flora, and may even slow down the aging process.
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