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Eat 'regular foods' and still lose weight

Published:Wednesday | April 25, 2012 | 12:00 AM

There are no quick fixes when it comes to losing and maintaining healthy weight. Healthy weight is linked to how food is prepared, amount consumed and when consumed.

How a food item is prepared determines how much is eaten. For example, ripe plantain, high in carbohydrates and fibre, if boiled, steamed or microwaved, a serving is considered two to three inches compared to one inch of the same plantain, if fried.

Fruits are good sources of carbohydrates with their natural sugar, but when sugar, honey or molasses is added to juices, they increase the sugar and caloric content and excess sugar is stored as fat. Four ounces, or half cup, of whole fruit or unsweetened fruit juice is recommended with each meal.

Complex carbs

Carbohydrate-rich foods that are high in fibre (complex carbohydrates) such as yams, potatoes, wholegrain products (wholewheat flour and brown rice) should be eaten.

A slice of commercially sliced bread (not hand-broken hard dough); four ounces yam, Irish potato or sweet potato; four ounces, or half cup macaroni (white or whole wheat); four ounces, or half cup cooked rice (brown or white); and one cup dry cereal (unsweetened without milk) provide 75 calories.

Peas and beans

Peas and beans (legumes) are high in protein and fibre and low in fat. It is recommended that at least half-cup of peas and beans be eaten every day which provides about 60 calories. The energy or calories from vegetables depends on how they are prepared. Raw vegetables, without salad dressing, provide less than 20 calories per cup, whereas half-cup, or four ounces, cooked vegetables such as pumpkin, callaloo or string beans provide 25 calories. Raw vegetables alone should not be eaten as a meal, as they do not provide enough energy and may cause low blood sugar. The fibre from peas, beans, complex carbohydrates and whole fruits and raw vegetables causes a feeling of fullness so less food is consumed.

Remove skin and bake

Foods from animals such as chicken, fish, meats (goat, cow, pig), milk and cheese are high in protein and fat. To make foods from animals healthier, trim all visible fat, remove skin and bake, roast, steam and stew instead of frying, and choose low-fat dairy products. One ounce of cooked meat, cheese (amount that can hold in a match box without the skin and bone) and half-cup milk is a serving and provides 55-75 calories.

A serving of fat is one teaspoon cooking oil, margarine (whether made from corn, coconut, soybeans, olive); three single ackees provide 45 calories, and intake should be limited. Water should be substituted for sweetened beverages.

Three regular, or up to six small, meals are recommended daily. Meals should consist of staples, foods from animals, or legumes and fruits, vegetables and a little fat.

Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist in private practice and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email: