Fill Up to Slim Down
by Jyl Steinbeck

Have you ever chowed down on a full meal, snacked on cookies and chips and still not really felt satisfied or full? That's because you are pleasing your appetite, not your hunger! "The Fill Up to Slim Down" Program focuses on hunger (the physiological need for food such as stomach grumbling) rather than appetite (triggered by senses or emotions). The key to success is learning to recognize satiety, the stomach's signal that hunger has been fulfilled. This program helps you develop a "normal" lifestyle for eating you'll lose weight safely, effectively, and permanently without feeling hungry or deprived. Too many diets offer the quick fix but forget about the long-term effect. Fill Up to Slim Down is a lifetime approach to wellness! Filling up with the "good stuff" reawakens your body's ability to heal itself, renew your energy and help you rediscover a passion for life.

Some of the fiber-rich foods (baked potatoes, popcorn, high-fiber cereals) require vigorous chewing and swallowing that "massage" hunger pressure points and signal fullness in the body. Other fiber-rich foods, such as oatmeal, apples, whole-grain pasta, and lentils block the absorption of fat and calories and speed food out of the body. Your body has to work harder to break these foods down so while certain body functions like digestion slow down, others speed up (metabolism). Blood sugar levels remain stable for longer periods of time and you are provided with a steady supply of energy (as a result you don't reach for more food!). The recommended lean protein sources including fish, bean, eggs, cheese, and beans are excellent energy sources that keep the body going.

Above and beyond their super-satisfying powers, these foods have been associated with weight loss, weight maintenance and improved health:
•Potatoes are virtually fat and cholesterol free, low in calories and rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. Their high levels of nutrients contribute to a reduced risk of high blood pressure and stroke, certain types of cancer and heart disease. Serve baked potato meals by topping with stir-fry vegetables, low-fat chili and nonfat cheddar cheese, steamed spinach, black beans and salsa. Gram for gram, potatoes contain no more calories than protein, making them one of the healthiest high energy foods available!

*Oatmeal, another high-fiber food, plays a key role in overall health, but is also important for weight loss and weight control. Oatmeal and other hot cereals have 1/5th the calorie density of dried cereal. Hot cereal has 300 calories per pound compared to 1,400 - 2,000 found in the same amount of dried cereal! The hot cereal will keep you satisfied into the late morning, helping you resist the midmorning munchies. Oats can also be substituted for breadcrumbs in recipes.

*Increasing fiber-rich foods by 14 grams a day has been associated with a 10% decrease in caloric intake. These foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber-rich whole grain foods contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease and help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.

*Low-fat and nonfat dairy products have been associated with boosting the body's ability to burn fat rather than store it. They also provide protein for muscles and organs and calcium to strengthen bones. Low-fat and nonfat dairy products provide all the nutrition as whole dairy products without all the calories and fat.

* Lean proteins such as fish, poultry (without skin), certain cuts of beef, pork, and veal contribute essential nutrients and affect how full and satisfied people feel. Studies show that eating adequate lean protein can help control hunger and food intake.

* Snack on air-popped popcorn (skip the butter please!). 6 cups of microwave popcorn will satisfy you more than 2 chocolate chip cookies, 1 doughnut, or 25-30 salted potato chips and save you hundreds of calories and fat grams. You can flavor popcorn with Butter Buds, chili powder, Mexican seasoning or a spritz of Butter-flavored cooking spray.

* Eat a large salad before your main course or meal. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University found that volunteers who ate a large salad before their main course ate fewer calories. Just stay away from high fat dressings!

* Select lean protein over fattier meats - 8 ounces of broiled fish is more satisfying than 4 1/2 ounces of steak!

* Eat your fruit rather than "drinking" it! Whole fruit provides more fiber than juices and is more satisfying.

* Complex carbohydrates have a more powerful effect on feeling full than fat. Research shows that the more fat you eat, the more you want so you keep eating even when you're not hungry and gain weight as a result. Complex carbohydrates generally have low energy.

Jyl Steinback, America's Healthiest Mom, nutrition expert and fitness trainer, has written more than a dozen healthy lifestyle cookbooks. Her latest book is "Fill Up to Slim Down" (Penguin/Putnam; January 2005).