Friday, February 1, 2013

Choosing the Right Foods for Weight Loss

In a recent blog entry I posted a timeline of photos from my weight loss.  I really love the visual image that the timeline provides of my journey, but there is one thing that bothers me about it. The pictures make the whole thing look so easy.  It looks like one Christmas I was big, and then *poof*, the next Christmas I was thin.  I wish that I had some way to visually portray all of the blood, sweat and tears that went along with those images.  I assure you it was not all instant success, there were a lot of missteps along the way.

In the first few months of my weight loss journey I made just about all of the classic diet mistakes.  You know, the ones that I am always warning you not to make, l
ike thinking you can eat as much as you want of something just because it is labeled as “low fat”.  I can’t tell you how many containers of low fat ice-cream I went through while I was “dieting”.

When I finally realized that foods labeled as “low fat” were not necessarily “low calorie”, I started paying more attention to food labels.  I began watching my calorie intake, but payed no attention to what nutrients were in the foods that I was eating. This plan backfired when I found that I had no energy and was hungry all of the time.  I knew that my plan was not sustainable, and I would need to make adjustments.

I discovered that things like fiber and protein helped to fill me up for longer periods of time.  This led me to realize that I needed to pay attention, not only to the calorie content, but the amount of nutrients in the foods I was choosing.  I began choosing foods that had the most beneficial ingredients (lean protein, fiber, vitamins/minerals), for the least amount of calories.  It was this adaptation to my diet that helped lead me to weight loss success.

After a lot of experimenting, I have found that my favorite sources of lean protein and fiber are whole grains and legumes. These are two things that can be intimidating to the unfamiliar (I know they were to me at first), but over time you realize how easy it is to incorporate these things into your diet.  Brown rice, quinoa and black beans seem to be the items that all of the health food websites are talking about, but there are sooooo many other legumes and whole grains that aren’t getting nearly as much press.

Here are some of the ones I have experimented with:

Whole Grains:
Barley, Bulgur, Popcorn, Farro,  Millet, Oats, Quinoa, Colored Rice(brown, black, red), Wheat Berries

Black Beans, Cannellini Beans, Chickpeas, Great Northern Beans, Kidney Beans, Lentils (brown, green and red), Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, Split Peas (green and yellow)

The fun thing about there being so many different types, is that you can experiment, and you never get bored. The Whole Foods Market website is a great source of recipes for all different kinds of legumes and whole grains.  In their recipe section you can do an “advanced search” for recipes with certain ingredients. I have found many new recipes this way, and experimented with ingredients that I would not normally pair. A great example is this recipe for Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup.

I hope to get more in depth information about cooking with whole grains on the blog, but for now, just let me know if you have any questions.

Happy Cooking!

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