Calorie-free foods in the diet

Almost all of those people who desperately try to lose weight have asked me this. Are there foods I can eat freely on a caloric restricted diet?

Well, there are some items considered “free foods” that may be used uncalculated in the diet plan and there are also some low caloric high fibre foods that may be eaten in larger volume as they assist in your dieting process by being tummy fillers.

Free foods

The American Dietetic Association defines free food as any food or drink that contains less than 20 calories or less than 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving.

The following may be used freely:

Vegetable clear soup

Bouillon broth (example Maggi cubes broth), consommé

Water – all types, mineral, aerated

Club soda

Black coffee, tea, herbal teas (no sugar or cream)

Coconut water

Spices and condiments

Lemon juice

Juice of vegetables like cucumber, bitter gourd, lauki

Herbs fresh or dried

Garlic, ginger, green chilli, white radish

Flavouring extracts

Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce (beware of sodium content)

Vinegar

Salad greens, curry leaves

Low calorie foods

All Indian vegetables excluding starchy ones like potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc are low calorie. Some of the best low calorie vegetables are all the gourds, amaranth stem, drumstick, French beans, knol knol, chow chow, marrow, okra, parwar, plantain flower, turnip.

Fruits like amla, water melon, guava, apple, orange, pineapple, pears, pomegranate, papaya and grapefruit are also low in calorie.

How these foods help in losing weight

Half a cup of cooked vegetables contains around 25 calories. So eat up! The fibre in them appeases hunger and adds bulk to your meal volume with the advantage of furnishing you with vitamins and minerals for a pittance of calories. Have it any time, at any meal.

It takes 2 cups of salad greens to give 25 calories so eat them whenever you are hungry. Add lemon juice, vinegar or any of the items in the free foods list you fancy to add punch to the greens.

Have a bowl of clear soup before your meals to down your hunger pangs so that you do not over eat at mealtime.

Or have a small glass of juice made from lemon or lauki before reaching for a snack. When you consume something that is intensely tasteful then it shuts the appetite – as for instance, the strong sour taste of lemon or vinegar in a salad or a little bitter gourd juice, or a strong cup of ginger tea without sugar and cream. Find out what works for you and go for it.

Always drink plenty of water of any kind – from jeera water to aerated – preferably warm or at room temperature throughout the day. Water and weight loss go hand in hand. Carry a bottle of water with you always. Drink away before, after, between meals.

Have coconut water instead of a glass of juice for it provides nil calories as against 120 calories in a glass of juice. Or make a cold glass of sambaram (Kerala style) – a glass of water and just a spoon of salted curds beaten up with curry leaves, ginger and green chilli – perfect for a hot sunny day.

Use your spices and condiments. Dieting is not eating bland food. In fact some studies show that spicy foods help in losing weight. Make up for the lack of oil in diet cooking by flavouring with herbs and spices. Chew your curry leaves and eat them.

Eat fruits (skin on whenever edible) to make a light meal complete. Bite into the apple instead of cutting them into pieces. The crunchiness and firmness of the fruit will need more chewing and hence lessen hunger. For 100 grams of fruit you eat you get about ½ its weight of calories. Compare this with 25 grams of bread which gives you 3 times more its weight of calories or rice that gives one calorie for every gram eaten.

No wonder that fruits and vegetables find a prominent and permanent place on all diet menus.

Boldly make the most of the free/low calorie foods and make your dieting easier and compliant.

Parvathy R Krishnan

The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at http://premadiet.blogspot.in/


More by this author:

How to reduce cholesterol in the Indian diet

Dieting tips for those at work

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