On the Weight Watchers Program you have the freedom to eat and track your favourite foods, and still achieve your weight-loss goals. But, according to a 20-year study published by the Harvard School of Public Health, certain foods are linked to a pattern of long-term weight gain or loss. So, what are the top foods to enjoy and limit?
Simply the best…
Remember being told to eat all those broccoli stalks and mushy peas on your plate when you were a kid? Your mum was right. There’s no end to the scientific research on the benefits of a diet high in vegetables for health and weight loss. You can add bulk to meals by piling your plate with 0 SmartPoints™ value vegies in a range of colours, including asparagus, squash, cauliflower and capsicum. The best part? You won’t need to go back for seconds because your appetite will be satisfied with a relatively small amount of kilojoules.
Thanks to their amazing health benefits, wholegrains have had their turn in the scientific spotlight in recent years. Eating two or three serves daily has been consistently reported to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases (including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers) by between 20 and 30 per cent. A diet high in wholegrains is also associated with a lower body mass index, waist circumference and risk of being overweight, which is great news for slimmers. To help stay on track, choose wholegrains for at least half of all your bread, cereal and grain serves.
Isn’t it great to know that the majority of fresh fruits are 0 SmartPoints™ value? In addition to being the perfect on-the-go snack, fruit is bursting with filling fibre, essential vitamins and minerals and potent antioxidants. Just like vegetables, fruit can also be added to meals to increase your overall satisfaction levels. Try pear or peach slices on breakfast cereal or berries with yoghurt and a sprinkle of pistachios for a delicious dessert.
Once a dieter’s foe, nuts are well and truly back on the bestseller list. When you’re craving a crunchy, savoury snack, ditch the chips and go for nuts instead. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins and essential fats, nuts also keep you feeling fuller for longer due to their protein content. Whenever possible, choose unsalted nuts, such as raw almonds, and add your own low-salt seasoning, for example, a sprinkling of the Moroccan spice ras el hanout.
Been avoiding dairy? Don’t. There’s a growing body of research pointing to the role of dairy products with an improvement in a variety of ‘health markers’ including better insulin resistance (a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes) and, for women, lower body weight, waist circumference and body mass index. So, include snacks of low-fat yoghurts and cheeses in your repertoire occasionally.
The not so good…
You don’t need a degree in nutrition to understand this one – packet potato chips are high in fat, salt and kilojoules and should be reserved for treats only. When packing school lunches, include healthier snacks, such as air-popped popcorn or multigrain crackers and dip. As for grown-up snacks, if you love the occasional potato chip, stick to portion-controlled chip packs so you’re not tempted to scoff the whole big bag.
Interestingly, Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that increased potato intake was also associated with weight gain. This doesn’t mean that potatoes themselves are fattening – far from it, in fact. It’s just that eating potato and potato products, especially fries or hot chips, is associated with weight gain. Why? Because eating these foods is probably part of a dietary pattern of fast food, takeaways and not eating at home. A medium potato at dinner is fine and a small serve of hot chips as part of your weekly SmartPoints™ allowance is fine, too – so long as you’ve budgeted for it.
A spoonful of sugar is not so bad, but, unfortunately, you’re often drinking far more than that when you pour yourself a glass of soft drink, juice or cordial. When watching your weight, opt for no- or low-kilojoule beverages. This way, you’re not drinking your SmartPoints™ allowance and can still fill up on an adequate volume of food to feel satisfied. Stuck for inspiration? Other than good old plain water, try soda or tonic water, sparkling mineral water, and herbal teas.
Somewhere in between….
While it is highly likely that big meat eaters may, in fact, be big eaters overall, it’s also true that a portion-controlled serve of lean protein will help you stay satisfied for longer. So while it’s a good idea to skip that plate-sized steak, do try to stick to a palm-sized serve of lean meat three to four times per week.
Love deli meats? While the World Health Organization has recently identified processed meats as containing carcinogenic chemicals, if you still want to eat them occasionally, switch to lean ham and fat-trimmed bacon, which are lower in kilojoules and saturated fats. And be aware of how you eat them too: people who eat a lot of processed meats may be more likely to consume them as pizza toppings or in American-style sub sandwiches, which makes it easy to clock up the kilojoules. Try adding lots of 0 SmartPoints™ salad fillings to increase your sandwich to a satisfying size, and 0 SmartPoints™ vegie toppings to homemade pizzas.