In April 2012, Shape Magazine published an article titled “Healthy Snacks: 6 Foods You Can’t Overdo,” purporting that there are a few snack foods out there that you can eat as much as you want without worrying about sabotaging your diet plan. The Chicago nutritionist interviewed for the article, Dawn Jackson Blatner, Ph.D., argued that vegetables are the only food group that you can eat without thinking about the portion. She named several snack ideas for vegetables: cucumbers with rice vinegar, zucchini with lemon and pepper, artichokes and baked kale chips.
It’s common knowledge that vegetables are low in calories and high in antioxidants – so eating endless amounts of spinach won’t hurt you. The problem with vegetables is that eating them by themselves often does not produce the feeling of being full that cues your body that it does not need more food. So while vegetables are one of the only foods you can eat as much of as you want and still lose weight, the catch is finding ways to prepare and eat vegetables in a manner that promotes the full feeling your body needs. So, eat as many vegetables as you want, but follow these tips to make them interesting and satisfying.
- Fill your plate with raw, crunchy vegetables – Replace heavy starches like potatoes and carb-rich sides like rice with raw, crunchy vegetables (think: carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and peppers). Finding vegetables that you can munch on – and are inherently yummy – is important. The crunch of these vegetables makes you feel fuller when eating and are in no way detrimental to your diet.
- Find delicious foods made out of vegetables – There are non-vegetables that are made out of vegetables. Noodles, typically made with grains, are a food not associated with vegetables. Kelp noodles, however, are made out of sea kelp and are rich in water.
- Employ condiments to make vegetables more satisfying – Add flavor to vegetables with little to no-calorie condiments like white wine vinegar or hot sauce. Both have few to no calories and add flavor and spice to otherwise boring veggies. Adding Texas Pete’s to celery, or steaming broccoli with white wine vinegar and garlic powder does not dramatically alter the calorie content of the vegetable, but may make you feel more satisfied when snacking.
Find vegetables that you enjoy and bountifully add them to your meals – finding the right kinds of vegetables and preparing them in unique ways will make you feel fuller, preventing you from overeating less healthy, carb-laden snacks.