In the middle of the holiday season, many of us are stressed about putting on extra pounds. Let’s face it: with so many parties and mouth-watering treats (Christmas cookies and cocktails, anyone?), it’s hard not to indulge.
To manage your weight, it helps to know which foods to avoid, some being worse than others.
If you are watching your weight, stay away from this food
The worst foods for weight control are ultra-processed foods. Research suggests that the more ultra-processed foods in your diet, the harder it is to maintain a healthy weight, Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN.
In the United States, 58% of our calories come from ultra-processed foods.
Ultra-processed foods make it easier to eat more calories. These types of foods are very low in fiber and protein, two nutrients that help you feel full longer, and they’re also high in added sugars, fats and starch, Ward says. Therefore, you may need to eat more ultra-processed foods to feel full, which makes it difficult to control your weight.
“If I had to choose the worst ultra-processed food, it would be any sugary soft drink,” Ward says. “There’s no point in drinking your calories, and they offer little or no redeeming nutritional value.”
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The best foods to eat to maintain a healthy weight
There are foods that make us gain weight, and then there are foods that help us maintain a healthy weight, Wards says. These healthy foods include:
Beans, including black beans and chickpeas, are high in fiber that promotes satiety and helps feed beneficial gut bacteria that may play a role in weight control, Ward says. Canned beans are incredibly convenient and can be added to salads, soups, stews and smoothies. Beans are also rich in vitamins and minerals.
Rich in protein and healthy fats, seafood will fill you up.
“My favorite seafood choices are canned tuna (for convenience) and salmon (I also keep frozen on hand),” says Ward. “Both types of fish provide high levels of protein as well as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. They are also excellent sources of vitamin D, which may play a role in weight control.
Roasted edamame is as close to a perfect snack as it gets, due to the high fiber and protein content of just one food, Ward says. Soy is also beneficial for heart health.
Greek yogurt with live active cultures
1/2 cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt offers about 10 grams of protein, which is a significant amount. Additionally, the live active cultures in yogurt benefit bowel function, which could affect your weight, Ward says.
Raspberries have the most fiber of any fruit. Plus, they’re filled with fluid, which helps with fullness, Ward says.
Related: 57 Ripe, Ready-To-Eat Raspberry Recipes Your Family Will Be Obsessed With
Nuts are incredibly satisfying and a great alternative to chips and sweets. Plus, they actually contain fewer calories than the nutrition facts panel says.
Nuts provide fiber, protein and heart-healthy fats as well as compounds that promote the production of healthy gut bacteria, Ward says.
Vegetable based soups
These are hearty and full of fiber, vegetables, and liquid, so you can digest them well and stay full.
If you throw in beans or lentils, you’ll also get some protein and a fairly complete meal, says Kimberly Snyder, famed nutritionist, spirituality and meditation teacher, and author of You Are More Than You Think You Are. Hot stews and soups have been promoted in Ayurveda for thousands of years to support Agni, or the fire of digestion. Good digestion is the key to sustainable, long-term weight loss.
We all need healthy fats for our hormones and bodily functions to function optimally.
Avocados are a whole food fat source that contains water and fiber, so they digest better than oils, which in excess can bulk you up and slow weight loss, says Snyder.
Try massaging an avocado into kale salad and other salads instead of adding pure oil.
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