Once you make the decision to lose a few kilos, it can be tempting to banish so- called ‘bad ‘foods from your diet. The problem is that many of the food with an adverse reputation for weight-loss are actually essential for your health—and some of them can even help you slim down.
All or nothing thinking results in feelings of deprivation and increased stress. If you start with the belief that losing weight means stopping eating the foods you like, you really are setting yourself up to fail.
Let’s start with bread. Popular diets such as Atkins have demonised bread to such an extent that it is usually the first thing to be ditched in a diet. But all breads are not created equal and some breads actually are good for you, such as sourdough, pumpernickel, or breads filled with grains and seeds. Bread is a nutritious food that provides not only fibre but also calcium, iron, B vitamins and protein. It’s filling and relatively low in kjs. Good news for anyone craving a crusty sandwich.
Rice is also often ditched along with bread. The trick to losing weight effectively is not to have peaks and troughs in blood sugar during the day. Brown and basmati rice not only keep you feeling full, but allow your blood sugar levels not to fluctuate too wildly. Rice should be welcome on your weight-loss menu.
Pasta is another food that frequently gets abandoned, but it can be an important part of a weight loss plan because it has a low GI and is low in kjs. High carb, low GI foods reduce bad cholesterol. Include wholegrain pasta in your meals, as it is lower in kjs and carbs, and higher in fibre and nutrients that regular pasta.
After carbs, dairy is the next big item that too often gets the flick, but some dairy foods such as yoghurt and cheese can actually help with weight loss. In one study, a group of participants were given five daily doses of dairy; another group of participants were given only three daily doses of dairy. The participants who had five daily doses of dairy lost more weight and experienced a greater drop in blood pressure and greater loss of abdominal fat.
Many on a weight-loss mission mistakenly ditch fruit from their diet and put it in the same category as a sweet treat because of the sugar content. However, fruit is high in water and fibre, low in kjs and it helps you feel fuller for longer. Best fruits to boost your weight-loss efforts are grapefruits, melons, berries, papaya and peaches. Those who eat the recommended amount of fruit daily have a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity.
If you don’t want to be overweight, don’t eat fat, right? Wrong. Fat is an essential nutrient. Without it, you can’t absorb nutrients like Vitamin A, D, E and K. One Harvard study found that completely cutting fat from your diet could actually lead to obesity. Low-fat dieting is not a good idea. Dietary fat such as the good fats found in nuts, seeds, avocadoes and fish are all linked to improved brain health, decreased inflammation in the body and reduced cholesterol.
And finally, don’t give up that chocolate! One Danish study found that eating dark chocolate reduces the cravings for fatty, salty and sweet foods. It has other health benefits too –eating 7gr of dark chocolate a day helps reduce inflammation in the body and lowers blood pressure.