What if you concentrated on eating more foods that are good for you rather than trying desperately to completely avoid the bad ones? Can you actually eat more and still lose weight? Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, says you can. Here’s how it works.
Most trendy diets include some sort of restriction — such as cutting out carbohydrates, gluten or dairy products — which makes them hard to sustain. Typically, once you stop following the diet’s restrictions, the weight comes right back.
However, if you focus on adding more nutritious foods to your meals, as opposed to restricting foods, you’ll be more likely to lose weight and keep it off. You won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself, so you’ll be more likely to maintain the healthy eating habits.
And, if you concentrate on incorporating a certain amount of healthy food into your meals every day — like aiming for between five and seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables — you may find that you’ll naturally limit the not-so-healthy choices. You honestly won’t feel as hungry for them.
For weight loss and improved health in general, Ms. Zumpano recommends adding these nutrition-rich foods to your diet:
When adding fruits and vegetables to your meals, try to eat those first. They’ll help you feel fuller so you can cut back on your main-course portions to accommodate the extra calories.
Keep in mind that healthy foods tend to have a lot fewer calories than other foods, so you can eat the same amount of food overall and still lose weight.
After you start working more healthy foods in, take a look at the unhealthy foods you eat and see if you can come up with healthier alternatives. Here are a few examples:
Eating additional nutritious foods and fewer foods that are unhealthy can do more than help you lose weight. It can also:
“It’s unrealistic to expect people to eat healthy all the time,” Ms. Zumpano says. But if you want to lose weight and keep it off, aim to eat healthy foods at least 75 to 80 percent of the time. “Allowing yourself to have some unhealthy foods will help you stay on track,” she says.
When indulging in an unhealthy treat, try to choose food items that won’t exacerbate any chronic conditions you have, such as high cholesterol or diabetes. If you’re unsure which foods are safe and which you really should avoid, talk to your doctor or meet with a registered dietitian.