8 Foods That Help You Lose Weight and Stay Healthy

At this time of year we often think about losing weight and getting into shape before summer comes.  You’ll be pleased to know that there are foods which can help you lose weight, and are also healthy and good for you!
1. Oats RuleOats are a superb food choice for weight loss and blood sugar control. You can eat them as oat flakes (cold) or soak and cook them to make porridge. Oatcakes are the best ‘bread’ choice, for example, with your scrambled or boiled egg, or as a snack during the day with a high-protein spread such as hummus.

Try oat bakes called Snackers (so much better than crisps) and oat biscuits, but do check that they say low-GI or GL load on the box. The best oat choices are those highest in the soluble fibre called beta-glucans. So, it’s best to choose ‘rough’ oatcakes rather than ‘fine’. The Nairn’s brand is particularly GL conscious.

2. Rye or barley instead of wheatThe whole rye grain is also excellent in terms of GL. This means a wholegrain rye bread, in moderation, for breakfast, perhaps with eggs, or as a snack together with a protein-rich food. The best choice of all would be the slow-cooked German-style breads called pumpernickel, sonnenbrot or volkenbrot. You can also find whole rye sourdough bread. These breads will be more dense and heavier than regular wheat bread – this is a good sign, but make sure you have thinner slices. One thin slice will be 5GLs.

Barley is another good grain to use, better than wheat. Studies show it makes you feel less hungry. You can buy wholegrain pearl barley, which boils like brown rice. It is also full of beta-glucans and soluble fibres and has a good, chewy flavour.

3. Eat more lentils and chickpeas

This food group, known as pulses, is a staple in countries with low rates of obesity, but we just don’t eat enough of these highly nutritious foods in countries with a typical Western diet. Other than beans on toast, most people don’t eat enough pulses.

Pulses are all relatively high in protein, making them lower GL. If, for example, you chose a serving of beans or lentils as your 7GL carbohydrate portion in a main meal, you’d be achieving your low-GL goals easily: all of these portions are just 7GLs each: 130g (4¾oz) of cooked chickpeas; 150g (5½oz) of red kidney beans; 175g (6oz) of butter beans; 210g (7¼oz) of lentils; 260g (9½oz) of borlotti beans.

Including a serving of lentils, or beans, for dinner actually has a knock on effect on breakfast, quite substantially reducing the blood sugar spikes of breakfast the next day.

4. Quinoa – the Inca secretQuinoa has been grown in South America for 5,000 years and contains protein of a better quality than meat. Quinoa is also one of the highest protein sources in the vegetable kingdom, with 16 per cent of its calories as protein (soya has the most, at 38 per cent protein).

Quinoa can be used as an alternative to rice. To cook it, rinse well, then add two parts water to one of quinoa and boil for 15 minutes. It is also gluten-free and is a much lower GL than rice. A 7GL serving of cooked quinoa is 130g (4¾oz). The GL load comes down even more if you serve it with protein, such as some fish or maybe tofu for a vegetarian option.

5. Chia seeds, walnuts and almondsChia seeds are very high in soluble fibres which help fill you up, as well as omega-3 fats and protein, all of which are good news for weight loss and blood sugar control. Chia has more than double the soluble-fibre content of oats but, of course, you wouldn’t eat the same quantity. Added to oats, for example in porridge, it is a great way to greatly increase your soluble fibre intake. You don’t have to grind them. Just sprinkle a dessertspoon on your cereal.

Other good nuts for helping to lose weight are walnuts and almonds. Whether you choose chia, or nuts, you really want to be having a dessertspoon of seeds, or a small handful of nuts, every day, either in your food, for example on breakfast, or as part of a low-GL snack.

You can get almond butter and pumpkin-seed butter, which are better for you than regular butter or margarine. Peanuts and peanut butter (sugar-free) are also an excellent source of protein but won’t provide the other benefits of omega-3 fats and soluble fibres.

6. Squashes, including zucchini or courgettesButternut SquashI’m not talking about squash drinks here, but the vegetable family, which includes courgettes, marrows, pumpkin, butternut squashes and many other varieties of winter squash. These are a very low GL vegetables so a great choice for your 7GL carbohydrate portion for a main meal.

7. Berries, cherries and plumsThe main sugar in most berries, cherries and plums is xylose, making these fruits especially low GL. The Montmorency cherry is exceptionally high in antioxidants and a concentrate called Cherry Active, as a cordial, is the only fruit drink I recommend. Since the predominant sugar in cherries is xylose, this drink is relatively low in GL whereas grape juice contains pure fast-releasing glucose. Plums, when in season, are a great fruit snack, together with some protein such as a few almonds or pumpkin seeds.

The next best fruits are apples and pears, but the kind of apple or pear you choose makes a difference. The harder and less sweet conference pears, for example, have the lowest GL.

I use xylitol (Total Sweet), in cakes, see the recipe below for Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies taken from The Good Health Diet recipe book. You use the same amount as you do of normal sugar but it has much less effect on your blood sugar – you’d have to have nine teaspoons of xylitol to have the same effect as one teaspoon of sugar.

8. A spoonful of cinnamonCinnamon is a safe and inexpensive spice, which has been used for many years in traditional herbal medicine for the treatment of type-2 diabetes as it helps to balance blood sugar. The active ingredient in cinnamon, MCHP, mimics the action of the hormone insulin, which removes excess sugar from the bloodstream so it can really help when you are trying to lose weight. You need 3 to 6g a day for a clinical effect. A teaspoon is 3 grams. You can sprinkle it on your cereal, in soups and hot drinks.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies

Ingredient Qty Grams 
Heat the oven to 180C  (360F) degrees.
Melt the chocolate in a basin over hot water.
While the chocolate melts, cream the butter and xylitol till light and fluffy.
When the chocolate is melted, beat it into the butter/xylitol.
Beat the eggs in one at a time with a little of the ground almonds.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into a 9” square baking tin lined with parchment and bake for about 40 minutes. The cake should be firm to touch and shouldn’t wobble when you shake the tin.
Be careful not to overcook it as the brownies are meant to be moist. Leave to cool and then cut into around 16 squares.If you like, you can swap the courgettes for ripe, mashed bananas for a change.  Pecans or walnuts work well if you don’t have any hazelnuts.
70% dark chocolate 100g
Butter or coconut oil 150g
Brown sugar or xylitol 100
Courgettes peeled and grated 2 small
Eggs beaten 4
Vanilla extract 2 tsp
Ground almonds 150g
Cocoa powder 25g
Chopped hazelnuts 200g
Baking powder  (soda) 2 tsp

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