I’ll be honest with you. I love my food. Therefore, the idea of not being able to enjoy it is outrageous to me. As a food coach, I don’t believe in deprivation. However, I don’t use it as an excuse to eat any and everything I see in front of me.
With that in mind, I have developed a few guidelines that help me staying on track when I am choosing what to eat. Because I love cooking, I give preference to homemade meals but I understand that not everyone enjoys the kitchen. The good news is that I can use these guidelines not only when I am cooking but also when ordering food at a restaurant.
Here they are:
1. Choose your protein.
When choosing my protein I give preference to lean cuts of meat (fish, chicken breast, pork tenderloin, round steak) because they provide more bang for my buck (higher protein content per serving and less calories coming from fat).
I also consider the cooking method. I don’t need (or want) extra calories, so I prefer methods that use little cooking oil and are not breaded or battered. The best methods are sautéing, braising, searing, roasting, steaming, boiling, and poaching.
You can also select proteins that come from vegetable sources such as beans, lentils, tofu, and other soy products. Omelettes and other egg dishes also qualify as protein.
2. Fill up half of the plate with vegetables.
Vegetables are rich in nutrients and fibre and are very low in calories being the best way of filling up your plate and belly.
Now, if you believe that you will get bored of eating salads and steamed vegetables, I need you to open your mind. There is a large variety of plant foods out there. Here are a few examples: roasted vegetables, warm salads with green beans and broccoli, cauliflower rice, zucchini or carrot noodles, grilled asparagus and mushroom. Be creative.
3. Select your carbs carefully.
Most of the time, I choose minimally processed fibre-rich carbs such as whole grains (brown rice, barley, quinoa) and smart starches roasted or baked potatoes, pumpkin, squash, or sweet potatoes.
But I won’t deny that I enjoy things like pasta, pizza and bread. So I indulge myself from time to time. How do I make them fit in my diet? I adjust the portion size. Keep in mind that a serving of carbohydrates (all those described above plus fruits) is the size of your fist. That doesn’t seem like much if eaten by itself, but when combined with the other two components (protein and veggies) it can be quite satisfying.
Therefore, next time you crave pizza, try the following approach. Order a salad with protein as an entrée, then share a pizza (a couple of slices should do) with a friend/partner. The veggies and protein will fill you up, so by the time the pizza arrives, you will be less likely to overeat. I bet you will feel very proud of your self-control.