Recently, I've come across a few books that do a good job of helping any dieter be enjoy flavors they love while still get plenty of satisfaction from the scale. Here are their best tips.
By Shaun Chavis
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Feeling full is important for anyone who's trying to lose weight. And so is personal satisfaction: If you feel like you're missing out, eventually you'll fall off track. Recently, I've come across a few books that do a good job of helping any dieter enjoy flavors she loves while still getting plenty of satisfaction from the scale. Here are their best tips:
Eat dessert first
The Big Breakfast Diet by Daniela Jakubowicz, MD ($12, Workman Publishing)
You may remember me mentioning that I gave this diet a try in December. The author is an endocrinologist who specializes in metabolic disease. The plan, in a nutshell: You eat half your day's calories in the morning with a high-protein breakfast (there are a handful of tasty, filling recipes in the book) and split the rest of the day's calories between lunch and dinner.
I really loved this plan: I felt better, I had more energy, and I was so full throughout the day, it was easy to pass up temptations.
However, this plan leans toward a lower-carb diet: You get to have breads, starches, and sweets only in the morning. Lunch and dinner are protein, fruit, and veggies. But here's the satisfaction factor of this diet: You get dessert every single day. Dr. Jakubowicz calls it the "breakfast sweet," which you eat every morning. The idea is that eating a sugary carb early in the day will boost your serotonin levels and keep you from craving sweets later on.
End your comfort food cravings
Now Eat This! 150 of America's Favorite Comfort Foods All Under 350 Calories by Rocco DiSpirito ($22, Ballantine Books)
Chef Rocco DiSpirito writes that he got the idea for this book while cooking for The Biggest Loser. His goal: To make healthy versions of foods Americans love, and to actually make them taste good. Bless him, because he uses clever tricks to accomplish what he set out to do. He uses white beans in a no-butter Triple Chocolate Chocolate Chip, filet mignon to lighten steak fajitas, and Greek yogurt to make creamed spinach.
You won't miss anything with his dessert recipes, either: There's chocolate mousse, crème brûlée that uses gelatin to help cut calories, and an easy chocolate fro-yo recipe (made with Greek yogurt and high-quality Scharffen Berger chocolate).
He uses a range of substitutes and reduced calorie products to cut sugar, fat, and calories, including Splenda, Truvia, and agave nectar. DiSpirito has also helped me solve a family issue. Every Thanksgiving, gravy is the one thing my dad really wants, and every year, it's the one thing I try to leave off the table. I can't get Dad to go for au jus, but I think he'll be more than satisfied with DiSpirito's low-cal recipe for gravy—and I won't feel guilty serving it. (The secret: Pureed veggies to create the creamy texture.)
Fill your mouth with ethnic flavors
The 5 Factor World Diet: Weight-Loss Secrets From the Healthiest Nations on the Planet—Unlocked! by Harley Pasternak, MSc, with Laura Moser ($25, Ballantine Books)
I love the study of the foodways of other cultures, and it's an interesting area to mine for new approaches to healthy eating. Even Michael Pollan's philosophy revolves around basing what you eat and how you eat it around a particular culture.
Oldways, the food issues think tank promoting the Mediterranean diet with a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid and the Med Mark labeling system, realizes that healthy eating isn't just about the right way to load a triangle with food—it's also about the culture surrounding that food.
Harley Pasternak has a similar mind-set and starts this book with the skinny on the foodways of 10 different cultures. However, he doesn't just tell us what they eat, but he also gives us ingredient lists and cooking techniques, and some insight into how these cultures approach eating through portion sizes, pace, and conviviality. (Love the example of street food in Singapore.)
Then, there are the recipes: short, quick, and full of flavor. His recipe for Shabu-Shabu, a Japanese favorite, is a great example of how an approach to eating can maximize your satisfaction: You swish slices of steak in boiling broth and then enjoy them with a soy-ginger dipping sauce. (I can't help but imagine keeping the broth hot on the table, with diners gathered around, taking turns cooking their slices of steak and enjoying great conversation.)
The recipes use fresh ingredients and plenty of spices. Pasternak has also included four weeks of menus that incorporate the principles of his 5 Factor Diet. My only caveat is that I wish the book included nutritional info for the recipes.
Hopefully you can adapt some of these tips into your diet, and if you have diet tricks, leave them in the comments.