From the Heart and Stroke Foundation
Canadians spend thousands of dollars a year on weight-loss products even though many of them don't work. Your best purchase? Healthy filling foods from the grocery store. Instead of focusing on foods you can't eat, try focusing on the dozens of foods that can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Give a "High 5" to fibre
Foods such as 100% whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, vegetables, fruit and beans all share a very important nutrient: fibre. Fibre lowers cholesterol levels, controls blood sugar and fills you up. Check the Nutrition Facts table. Look for products with 2 grams of fibre or more. Studies show that women who consume more fibre are half as likely to be obese as those who consume less. Here are ways to get more fibre in your diet.
- Enjoy hot oatmeal for breakfast or as a satisfying afternoon snack topped with fresh blueberries. One serving equals 175 mL (3/4 cup). For the highest-fibre oatmeal, cook from scratch using quick – not instant – oatmeal. Or try our couscous breakfast cereal for a high-fibre way to start your day.
- Liven up a 100% whole-wheat pasta salad by adding a variety of fresh, chopped carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumber and a can of rinsed chickpeas. (Pasta and rice portion sizes:125 mL or 1/2 cup equals one serving.) (Use a low-fat dressing.) Ann Lindsay's Asian chicken pasta salad makes for a quick, easy dinner.
- Make a stir-fry of broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, red peppers and onions and serve over 125 mL (1/2 cup) brown rice as a delicious side dish.
Pour on the high-water content foods
Foods that contain a lot of water tend to be low in fat and calories. Fill up on dark-green leafy vegetables such as romaine, spinach and kale and high-water content fruit such as oranges, strawberries and apples. Home-made broth-based soups are great options too. Here's how to get more of these foods into your diet:
- Eat a big dark leafy green salad (but hold the creamy dressing, croutons and bacon toppings). Make your own dressing using a splash of balsamic and dried Italian seasoning. Or if you opt for the store-bought kind, keep the serving to just 25 mL (1 tablespoon). Try Ann Lindsay's quick spinach salad.
- Fill half your plate with high-water content vegetables such as zucchini and tomatoes and fill up on these types of foods if you want to have a second helping.
- Begin your lunch or dinner with a bowl of low-sodium broth-based soup. (Make your own chicken or vegetable stock with our recipe. Try a hearty minestrone or chicken soup. These foods will help fill you up and make you eat less of your main course. Try our fresh spring vegetable soup.
- Drink plain water throughout the day. People often mistake hunger for thirst. So next time you get a hunger pang, drink a glass of water first, then wait at least five minutes to make sure you're really hungry. And if you are, reach for high-water content foods.
Eat foods in their natural form
Overly processed foods are usually low in nutrients and high in sodium, fat and additives. Read food labels. If there are too many ingredients, especially those you can't pronounce, chances are the food is missing many of its important edible parts. Instead, eat foods in their natural state as much as possible. Here's how to get more foods in their natural form into your diet:
- Buy fresh produce and eat them whole, skin and all (when possible). Try Anne Lindsay's baked apples with maple yogurt sauce.
- Choose 100% whole grains such as 100% whole wheat, quinoa and cornmeal. Whole grains are healthier for you because the most nutritious part of the grain is still intact.
- Eat beans and legumes such as kidney beans and lentils as well as nuts and seeds more often (one small handful equals one serving). These foods usually retain all their natural ingredients.
For more information on losing weight the healthy way, sign up for Heart&Stroke Healthy Weights Action Plan at www.heartandstroke.ca/hwplan.
For best results, include physical activity into your weight-loss plans. Adults require 30 to 60 minutes a day, most days of the week. Walk, dance, swim, bike – whatever it takes to get your heart pumping! Read about the basic principles of physical activity.
Posted: March 2010
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