If you’re dreaming about cheeseburgers and fries while trying to lose weight, you’re dieting all wrong, a new study suggests.
Instead of making a list of forbidden foods and replacing them with boring options, zero in on the healthy dishes you want to eat, scientists out of Baylor University say.
“Our research shows that instead of creating rules to avoid one’s favourite treats, dieters should focus on eating healthy foods that they enjoy. Dieters who restrict themselves from consuming the foods they love most may be setting themselves up for failure,” Dr. Meredith David, an assistant professor of marketing at the university and study lead author, said.
“Instead, they may be better off by allowing occasional ‘treats’ and focusing attention on healthy foods that they enjoy and making it a point to include those tasty, but healthy foods in their diet,” David added.
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With the findings in tow, Global News asked Canadian registered dietitians for their favourite go-to healthy eats that are still packed with flavour.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A, said Christy Brissette, a Toronto-based registered dietitian and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition.
“One medium sweet potato provides more than 300 per cent of your daily vitamin A requirements, which helps to keep your immune system strong and your eyes healthy,” Brissette told Global News.
They’re also sources of vitamin C, manganese, copper, potassium, and vitamin B6.
“I love making sweet potato fries in the oven or covering them in foil and putting them on the barbecue for a toasty flavour,” she said. They can be turned into mashed sweet potatoes, added to soups and salads or baked whole.
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Eggs can be boiled, scrambled poached, fried, served over easy, or mixed with vegetables to turn into an omelette.
“Eggs can be luxurious, especially once you get the timing right. A perfectly cooked soft boiled egg or a slow scramble creates a mouthfeel that makes for a decadent meal with a slice of whole grain toast and fruit,” Kate Comeau, a Halifax-based registered dietitian and Dietitians of Canada spokesperson, said.
(Eggs are also versatile, come with a long shelf-life and are available locally for Canadians, she added.)
They’re a great source of protein, vitamins A, D, E, B2, B12, folate, along with iron, zinc, and choline.
Peanuts are rich in monounsaturated fats that help with heart health, Brissette said.
“Eating peanuts and peanut butter regularly as part of a diet high in monounsaturated fats is linked to a 21 per cent lower risk of heart disease and 30 per cent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes versus the typical North American diet,” Brissette said.
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Two tablespoons comes with healthy fats, eight grams of protein to fill you up and two grams of fibre that’ll keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Whole wheat pasta
Susan Macfarlane, an Ottawa-based registered dietitian specializing in weight management, said that whole wheat pasta is “perhaps only second to bread” as a food most blamed for weight gain.
“Pasta has been sworn off the plates of most dieters adhering to the low-carb doctrine. But before writing off pasta, take a moment to consider its health benefits,” she told Global News.
For starters, it’s rich in B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, which the body uses to obtain energy from food. It’s also high in both fibre and protein, which helps you feel full longer while keeping blood sugars stable.
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Just watch your portion sizes, Macfarlane said. When building your meal, include a vegetable dish, such as a green leafy salad, along with about half to one cup of pasta topped with low-sodium tomato sauce, vegetables and lean protein.
Registered dietitian Andrea Miller isn’t talking about the sugary sweet, fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt. She turns to plain, two per cent yogurt and uses it as a base to add fruit, ground flax, and even a drizzle of maple syrup.
“I also use plain yogurt in dips, sauces, soups and baking. It is one of my kitchen staples,” Miller said.
Yogurt is full of calcium, a great source of protein and it’s low in fat.
The sugar in fruit might scare dieters off, especially bananas which are sweet and have a higher calorie count.
Don’t be dissuaded, Macfarlane said. A single banana is about 105 calories, a great source of vitamin C, copper, magnesium, manganese, and of course, potassium.
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Just one banana has 30 per cent of your daily requirement for vitamin B6.
You should be aiming for about two to three servings of fruit per day, paired with a source of protein, such as nuts or cheese.
Avocados can be turned into guacamole, mashed and topped on toast, or even sliced and baked into avocado fries.
“Avocados can be a wonderful creamy addition to a meal and can act as a healthy replacement for oils, butter or margarine,” Nicole Osinga, a registered dietitian at Lakeridge Health, told Global News.
One-quarter of an avocado comes with four grams of fibre, healthy fats and nutrients, such as potassium and vitamin E.
Walnuts and almonds
Walnuts can be added to breakfast oatmeal, sprinkled over salad, or just eaten whole as an afternoon snack.
An ounce of walnuts comes with two grams of fibre and four grams of protein, but they’re also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B vitamin biotin, Osinga said.
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Carol Dombrow, a Heart and Stroke registered dietitian with more than 25 years in the field, pointed to almonds, too. They’re great to tide you over when you’re hungry between meals, she said.
“Almonds are a fantastic food that will provide satiety and taste great,” she told Global News.
Toast them at about 400 F for about 10 minutes to add flavour.
One ounce – or about 23 almonds – comes with six grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fibre, and monounsaturated fat at about 160 calories.
Chia seeds can be added to yogurt, or even mixed with almond milk, cinnamon and fruit and left overnight to turn into a pudding.
“Chia seed puddings are my favourite healthy food that I want to eat all the time because they are so delicious and yet have so many health benefits,” Jessica Begg, a Calgary-based registered dietitian, told Global.
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Two tablespoons of chia seeds gets you eight grams of fibre, 3.6 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids and four grams of protein.
If you’re getting tired of chicken, salmon is a great alternative for mixing things up. Salmon is high in protein, low in saturated fat and a great source of omega 3s.
The experts call for at least two servings of fish each week. A serving is about 3.5 ounces or the size of a chequebook.