Have you ever started a diet and promptly quit because you were just too dang hungry?
Back in the day, I used go on a 1200 calorie diet any time I wanted to “slim down”…
Usually my calorie counting efforts didn’t last more than just a few days because – you guessed it — I was hungry.
All those little 100 calorie snack packs and tiny frozen meals just didn’t do it for me. I felt like I’d only eat 3 bites and the whole thing was gone. That just wasn’t going to work for me — this girl loves to eat!
When I finally decided to start focusing more on what foods I was eating (as opposed to just how much food I was eating), I started noticing a lot of changes…
My energy stabilized, I felt more clear and focused at work, and my digestion improved (majorly). But still there was another, even more surprising, benefit that I hadn’t anticipated.
I discovered the secret to eating MORE without gaining any weight! It felt ~magical~.
Now as a health coach, I see this scenario happening to others who make the switch to a diet based on real, whole food nutrition as well.
So, if you’re tired of going on and off diets, feeling miserable when you’re “on” but also feeling guilty and self conscious when you’re “off” — this post is for you.
Today I’m going to explain my secret to eating MORE without gaining weight. Plus, how you can properly apply this approach to your diet to maintain your weight (or lose some, if desired) in a healthy, sustainable way. Let’s dive in…
MY SECRET TO EATING MORE…
If you’ve ever gone on any form of diet in the past, you’ve familiar with the three macronutrients; protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Most traditional diets focus on reaching target intake levels for each of these macronutrients, plus, an overall calorie target.
But the fourth (and totally underrated) category of food that we need to know about is fiber.
Yep, you heard right. It’s not exciting or sexy — but fiber is the real MVP.
You may know that fiber is what helps you *stay regular*, but in addition to keeping your poo healthy, high fiber diets are also associated with healthy body weight, reduced risk of chronic disease, improved cholesterol levels and better blood sugar balance.
All of these things are pretty darn important if you want to live a long, fit and healthy life (which of course, you do!).
You might be wondering — But how can fiber help me eat more without gaining more weight??
First, we need to understand what fiber actually is, what is does in your body, and what kind to look for…then, you’ll understand how to properly utilize fiber so you can eat more to maintain (or lose) your weight without feeling starved. So let’s keep going…
WHAT IS FIBER — LIKE, ACTUALLY THOUGH?
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Though most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead it passes through the body undigested. Fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check.”
In natural foods, fiber can be found in two different varieties; soluble and insoluble fiber. The major distinction between the two types is that soluble fiber dissolves in water while insoluble fiber does not. Both forms have their own, unique health benefits.
Most plants naturally contain both forms of fiber, however, the amount and proportion of each type can vary widely from plant to plant.
The most important thing you need to know is that both forms of fiber are extremely beneficial.
Increasing the amount of soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet can help you maintain better gut health, blood sugar, reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes, and help you maintain a healthy body weight.
DON’T BE FOOLED BY FAKE FIBER
If you’re anything like I used to be, when you think about eating more fiber, your mind goes straight to those packaged “high-fiber” cereals, bars, and desserts you see at the grocery store.
Let me just tell you — those are NOT the sources of fiber you want to focus on increasing!
These highly-processed foods almost always come packaged with a heap of added and artificial sugars, plus emulsifiers, additives and artificial ingredients all used to create a taste and texture that leads to overeating so you’ll continue to buy more.
These foods are so heavily processed that they lose all of their naturally occurring nutrients. So, food companies often spray them with artificial vitamins and minerals and/or fortify them with synthetic protein and fiber.
By fortifying food products with synthetic fiber additives, food companies can add claims like, “high in fiber” and “good source of dietary fiber” on their labeling to market their product to health-conscious consumers.
Three grams of added fiber is enough to allow these products to claim to be a good source of fiber, and the food industry uses this as a way to boost sales, especially for grain-based products.
So, when I talk about eating more fiber, just know, we’re not talkin’ Fiber One bars over here…
The foods to eat more of
There is one specific category of fiber-rich foods that are about to become your new BFF. This is the real-deal secret to eating more without gaining weight…
Non-starchy vegetables (veggies low in carbohydrates) are the foods you want to be adding in as often as possible!
While all forms of vegetables are nutritious, non-starchy vegetables are much lower in calories, while providing similar amounts of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants as the starchy variety.
Plus, they give you the biggest bang for your buck in the fiber department as well…
Often non-starchy veggies are high in insoluble fiber, meaning, they won’t dissolve down as much through digestion, thus, increasing the bulk in your stomach. This added volume helps to down-regulate the bodies natural Ghrelin production (the hunger hormone released when your stomach is empty).
Essentially, by adding extra non-starchy veggies onto your plate, you add more volume to your meals. This allows your fiber intake to go up and your hunger hormones to come down, all while keeping your calories relatively low (especially in comparison to more carb-dense vegetable or highly-processed foods).
Thus, you’ll feel more satisfied without having eaten an excess of calories. It’s a win-win-win!
HOW TO MAKE THIS WORK FOR YOU
Now that I’ve you convinced that non-starchy vegetables, are *major key* for eating more without gaining weight (cue the DJ Khalid impression), let’s talk about ways to actually apply this new approach in your routine…
First, there are two simple ways to determine what veggies fall into the “non-starchy” vegetable category:
- Starchy vegetables are usually much more dense, whereas, non-starchy vegetable tend to be more light and often contain more water.
- If you’ve got a veggies you’re unsure about just Google it — duh!
Some of my favorites are red onions, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and zucchini.
Aside from just making the basic steamed broccoli you grew up dreading, there are tons of fun, creative ways to incorporate more non-starchy veggies into your meals…
You can buy things like cauliflower or broccoli “rice” and zucchini, heart-of-palm, or shiratki “noodles” at almost every grocery store.
By making healthy swaps to your favorite dishes, you can still enjoy a variety of fun recipes without sacrificing nutrition!
One of my favorites is this healthy Egg Roll-In-A-Bowl recipe. It’s a quick and easy, one-pan dish that’s chock full of nutrient dense non-starchy veggies and tastes just like that classic Asian takeout we all know and love!
For more inspiration, here’s some other ways to incorporate non-starchy veggies:
- Serving soups over cooked cauliflower “rice”
- Making a burrito bowl with a cauliflower “rice” and spinach base
- Big salads loaded with leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and bell peppers
- Making cauliflower “fried rice” with shrimp
- Using zoodles (zucchini noodles) in place of pasta for spaghetti
- Using heart of palm noodles in place of pasta for spaghetti
- Adding cooked cauliflower rice and spinach in ground beef for tacos
- Adding frozen spinach and cauliflower “rice” into smoothies
- Baking brussel sprouts and red onion on a sheet pan for a side dish
- Baking broccoli and cauliflower on a sheet pan for a side dish
- Making a breakfast scramble with sautéed broccoli, onions, tomatoes and eggs
- Making a cooked salad with sautéed kale, bell peppers, onions & chicken apple sausage
ONE LAST NOTE…
Almost every diet out there focuses on restriction in some way…whether it’s telling you to restrict calories, carbs, fats, sugar, gluten, grains….whatever.
But instead of focusing on all the things you should cut out, I’d rather you to focus more on how much of these beneficial foods you could be adding in.
The real secret to eating more without gaining weight is adding in as many non-starchy vegetables as you can. Not only will you be able to eat a bigger volume of food, but you’ll also increase the fiber, vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants in your diet.
When you do this, you’ll *literally* be looking and feeling your best from the inside out.
Start by just making one healthy swap or upgrade per day and slowly increase from there…
Once you get in the swing of it, you’ll be amazed at how much more delicious, nutritious food you can eat without sacrificing your waist line!
August 18, 2021