By Mehmet Oz, M.D. & Michael Roizen, M.D.
You're staring at the fridge. Or the pantry, or the menu. How do you make the right choice? By remembering a few simple rules.
The point of breakfast is twofold. First, it replenishes the calories you've burned and eliminates the hunger you've built up overnight, when you haven't eaten for nine or ten hours. You're literally breaking a fast. Second, it keeps you satiated until lunch, your next big meal. There are good and bad ways to do this. Here are the good ones.
1. Don't eat breakfast until you actually feel like you need it. There's no law that says you have to eat before you shower or even before you go to work. Just listen to what your body's telling you.
2. Go with something simple. This can be either high fiber (oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, whole-grain toast, a small fruit shake with a fiber supplement) or high protein (two eggs or a three-egg-white omelette). The main thing is, avoid embellishments. If you go with high fiber, it's okay to add a few nuts or dried fruits, but don't go wild. If you go with the eggs, try adding some cayenne or other spicy red pepper. The heat in these comes from capsaicin, which triggers the release of CCK — the chemical that closes your stomach's gates. You'll feel fuller all morning. And if you just can't live without sausage or bacon, try the low-fat turkey kind. And two pieces, max.
3. Coffee should be drunk black or with a little skim. And skip the sugar and cream, which can add upwards of five hundred calories.
Think about how most of us are around lunchtime: rushing to finish the morning's tasks, thinking about the afternoon meeting, feeling starved. That's a recipe for bad (or indifferent) choices. So try to eat roughly the same foods every week. This eliminates hazards that can crop up when you're too harried to think about what you're scooping onto your plate.
1. Don't wait until you're starving to eat lunch. If you tend to be ravenous by 1:00, start eating at 12:30. That way you won't be in a rush to get something into your mouth, and you won't be tempted to forage or put too much on your plate.
2. A meal-sized salad — greens, tomatoes, and a little chicken or fish — is fine. So is a cup of healthy (not creamy) soup and a smaller salad. Same for a veggie or turkey burger (no cheese, no fries) or a turkey sandwich; do your best to find whole-grain buns or bread.
3. One last thing about salads. In and of themselves, they're great: full of fiber and plant vitamins, and bulky — so they fill you up — without being rich in calories. It's dressing that's the problem. Creamy and cheesy kinds are full of fat; most low-fat kinds are full of high-fructose corn syrup. Stick with a couple tablespoons of the classic oil-and-vinegar dressing.
Your body will appreciate it if you eat at least three hours before bedtime. That way, you'll burn off a lot of the calories before you go to sleep, when your metabolism slows down. Try these other minor suppertime adjustments:
1. Beware the first and last ten minutes of the meal: bread, butter, and dessert. Those are careless, empty calories. And try skipping dessert altogether. There's no biological need for it, and much of the rest of the world finishes a meal with salad or something small and savory, like a handful of nuts or a bite of cheese.
2. As for what to eat, a great rule of thumb is to avoid white foods (potatoes, pasta), load up on colored vegetables (carrots, greens, tomatoes), and treat meat or fish as an embellishment rather than a main course.
3. Alcohol reduces inhibitions — that you probably already know — but it also reduces your ability to register satiety. So skip the predinner cocktail and enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a nice after-dinner drink in place of dessert. A little alcohol is good for you — and not just red wine. Anything of good quality is beneficial.
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