Being it’s after Thanksgiving as I write this article, and after a huge delicious Shabbat lunch at the Rothenbergs and an amazing night of non-stop eating on Sunday night at the Berg-Coplin wedding, the last thing I can think is eating. I even thought of asking my editor if I could take the week off. But as I found out last week, my number one fan, 102 year old Irene Twersky, knows when I play hooky, and I didn’t want to disappoint her. So, instead of a calorie-laden recipe, I decided to share some healthy tips that I found online a while ago.
This is from an article written by Paul Akita in Men’s Health.
#1: Know what (and when) to drink
Think of your stomach as a balloon. As you eat, it stretches. And once it expands to its maximum capacity, the sensors throughout your digestive system tell your brain that it’s time to stop eating, regardless of what you’ve filled your belly with.
To stretch your stomach without stuffing it with calories, you need water. Alan Aragon of Men’s Health recommends drinking a glass 30 minutes before a meal and sipping frequently while eating. Water-rich foods—soup, salad, fruit, and vegetables—will also fill your belly without contributing excessive calories.
#2: Fill up with fiber
Fiber draws water from your body and from the food you’ve eaten, and transports it to your intestinal tract, helping to deliver that meal-ending satiation, according to a 2009 study by researchers at the University of Washington.
Fiber may boost satiety, too. Since it passes through the body undigested, fiber slows the absorption of nutrients and makes you feel fuller longer, according to a 2008 study by researchers at the University of Minnesota. A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that adding 6 grams of soluble fiber (such as ground flaxseed) to yogurt provided the satiating power of an additional 260 calories. To reap the satiating benefits of fiber, aim for 25 to 35 grams daily.
Refined carbohydrates, on the other hand—like in those Krispy Kremes—are satiety killers. When participants in a 2008 British study drank a high-carb beverage for breakfast, they reported feeling hungrier at lunch than when they drank a beverage high in protein. Here’s why: Too much sugar brings on a rapid spike in insulin, which causes a sugar crash later and triggers a craving for more food.
#3: Pack in the protein
Protein, your muscle-growing fuel, also has the power to raise levels of peptides—synthesized amino acids—in your stomach. “These peptides initiate cross-talk with the brain on a molecular level to send out satiety signals,” says Aragon. He recommends aiming for 20 to 40 grams of protein at each meal.
#4: Savor the flavors
Your belly is rumbling, and a waiter sets a juicy burger in front of you. Resist the urge to unhinge your jaws and swallow it whole. Thoroughly chewing your food increases what researchers call “oro-sensory factors,” which send satiation signals to your brain, helping you feel full on less food, according to a 2009 study by Dutch researchers. Study participants who chewed each bite for an extra 3 seconds ended up consuming less. And skip those sippable meal-replacement shakes and calorie-clogged smoothies from the juice joint.
#5: Trick your belly full
You can’t trust your gut. Maybe you’ve heard about the Cornell University study with the trick bowls: People who ate soup from bowls that continuously refilled ate 73 percent more than those who ate from ordinary bowls. The kicker: They rated themselves as feeling no more full. Scientists call this use of sensory cues to assess fullness “learned satiation.” Try this: Dole out a portion of food onto a smaller plate and immediately place the rest in the refrigerator. Once you eat, the visual cue of a clean plate will signal that you’ve had enough—and the leftovers will stay out of sight and out of mind, in the fridge.
#6: Avoid distraction at dinner
What you’re doing while you eat might be as important as what you’re eating. You’re likely to consume much more food and eat for longer periods of time when you’re distracted by television, music, or a computer, according to a 2009 review of studies published in Trends in Food Science & Technology. Eating while distracted interrupts brain-to-stomach satiation signals, making it harder to monitor your food intake. Also, distraction raises the risk of overeating the wrong types of foods—think popcorn at the movies.
The takeaway from all this is simple: When you eat, actually eat. Grab a seat. Focus on your meal. Don’t check your e-mail or hit up Hulu for last night’s Daily Show. Pay attention to your first plate of food and you might find that you don’t need to go back for seconds.
#7: Downsize your snacks
As long as you’re eating satiety-inducing nutrients at every meal, you’ll reduce your urge for food between meals, says Aragon. But if your gut’s growling and your next meal is far away, a healthy snack can help prevent you from binging later.
Here are two quick, delicious, healthy and low calorie snacks.
Crispy Baked Kale
1 bunch fresh kale (you can use the packaged kale already in pieces from Trader Joe). 1 Tbs. olive oil. 1 teaspoon salt or seasoned salt.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into small pieces. Wash and dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.
Parmesan Zucchini Crisps
(I found this recipe by Ellie Krieger on the Food Network)
2 large zuchini washed and dried
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
3/4 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 450F and coat the baking tray with Pam.
Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch thick round.
In a large bowl, toss the zucchini and the oil.
In a smaller bowl combine the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt and a few turns of fresh ground black pepper.
Dip each piece of zucchini into the bread crumb mixture, making sure both sides are covered, press with your fingers to make sure it sticks.
Place in a single layer onto the prepared asking sheet.
Bake until browned and crisp, about 25-30 minutes.
Remove with a spatula and serve immediately.
Judy Joszef is a columnist for The Jewish Star.