Brook Remote Care

Week 6 – Nutrition Deep Dive Eating for a Healthy Weight

Purpose

To dive into nutrition information that applies to weight management.

Time to read

8 minutes

Weight management is a topic that often gets bundled up with complex diets, trendy fads, and conflicting advice. But at the end of the day, there is no magic bullet. The truth is less sexy; it’s about making certain simple, healthier choices around food and physical activity that you can sustain long-term. Let’s explore three fundamental aspects of eating for better weight management that anyone can embrace: increasing fiber intake, being mindful of portion sizes, and eating more whole foods. Let’s dive in!

UNDERSTANDING FIBER

Fiber is often an overlooked hero in the world of nutrition. It’s a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. When it comes to weight management, fiber can be your best friend.

Benefits of fiber:
  1. Keeps you full: Foods rich in fiber take longer to digest, which means you feel full for longer. This can help prevent overeating and those sneaky snack cravings.

  2. Stabilizes energy: Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels, preventing sharp spikes and crashes that lead to extreme hunger and unhealthy food choices.

  3. Lowers calorie intake: High-fiber foods often have fewer calories for the same volume, making it easier to control your calorie intake without feeling deprived.

To increase your fiber intake:
  • Choose whole grains: Opt for whole-grain bread, pasta, and rice over refined options.

  • Snack smart: Enjoy fiber-rich snacks like fresh fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Air popped popcorn is a good option too (just don’t overload it with oil, butter, or other high calorie toppings).

  • Increase beans and legumes: Incorporate beans and legumes like lentils, black beans, hummus, or crispy chickpeas into your meals and snacks.

  • Try smoothies: Blend whole fruits and veggies into delicious smoothies for a fiber-packed breakfast or snack. Leave the skin on when you can for items like apples, pears, cucumbers, etc. 

  • Sneak in veggies: Add extra veggies to all your meals and snacks. An extra handful of spinach or serving of salsa can really add up!

PORTION CONTROL

Portion control is a key aspect of weight management. It’s not just about what you eat but how much of it you consume.

Here are some strategies to help you master portion control.

Use smaller plates: Studies show that people tend to eat less when they use smaller plates.

Practice the Brook Healthy Plate method: Remember how to build a healthy plate from last week? It really works! Divide your plate into sections: half for vegetables, a quarter for protein, and a quarter for carbohydrates. 

Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Eat slowly, savor your food, and stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

Avoid mindless eating: Eating in front of the TV or computer can lead to overeating. Try to eat at a designated table without distractions.

EMBRACE WHOLE FOODS

In week 5, we introduced the idea of whole foods compared to highly processed foods. Here’s a refresher – a whole food generally means a food that is close to or in its natural state. Some examples are things like fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, unprocessed meat and seafood, raw nuts and seeds, fresh beans and legumes.

Minimally processed food are foods that are changed from their natural state, but in a small enough way that it can still be easily traced back to original form. Your great grandmother would most likely be able to recognize or make this food. These are foods like extra virgin olive oil, whole grain pasta & bread, nut & seed butters, traditional yogurt & kefir, butter, canned beans or tomatoes, and frozen fruits or vegetables.

Ultra-processed foods are foods that have gone through many processing steps from the original ingredients, and usually will contain additives like sugar or preservatives. These foods tend to be more shelf-stable than minimally processed or whole foods due to these additives. Food like macaroni & cheese, packaged cookies & crackers, soft drinks, sweetened breakfast cereals, canned soups, frozen pizza, and chicken nuggets fall into the ultra-processed category.

Benefits of whole foods:
  • Nutrient density: Whole foods are packed with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, providing more bang for your buck.

  • Satiety: Whole foods are often more filling, helping you feel satisfied with fewer calories.

  • Fiber: Most whole foods are naturally higher in fiber, which is one of our priorities to focus on when it comes to nutrition for weight management.

  • Long-term health: Whole foods are associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

To incorporate more whole foods into your diet:
  • Know where to find them: Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy are typically found on the perimeter of the grocery store. You can also find frozen fruits and vegetables (as long as they don’t have added sugar, salt, or sauce, they’re just as good as fresh!), low-sodium canned vegetables, or shelf-stable dried beans and whole grains toward the interior of the store.

  • Swap it out: Take a look at some of your more highly processed foods and snacks. Where do you think you can handle a swap? Think 100% whole wheat bread or pasta instead of white, air-popped popcorn or crispy chickpeas instead of chips or crackers, oatmeal with nuts and berries instead of sweetened breakfast cereals. 

  • Cook at home: Prepare meals from scratch whenever possible, using minimally processed foods. 

Remember, highly processed foods are engineered to make us crave them! It can take 30 days before your taste buds start to adjust to different foods. Stick with it and we promise that those whole foods will start tasting more and more delicious.

It’s tempting when trying to lose weight to reach for ultra-processed bars, meal replacements, or snacks, but these won’t help you in the long run. Diet foods also tend to be full of things we don’t need (like preservatives or flavor enhancers) and lack the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients that whole foods provide.

While some people may find short-term success with meal replacements due to calorie restriction, it’s important to remember that sustainable weight management is about making lasting, positive changes to your overall diet and lifestyle.


NEXT STEPS

  1. Model your meals after the Brook Healthy Plate at lunch and dinner.

  2. Practice one weight management strategy this week, whether that’s increasing fiber, portion control, or increasing whole foods. Then next week, add another strategy. Or work with your Health Coach to set a goal that’s right for you.

  3. Take a look at your weight measurements in the Profile section of the app. Notice any trends? 

  4. Feel like you need more support? Check in with your Care Team (Registered Nurse and Health Coaches).


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES