Liz Tucker is a nutritional therapist with a psychology and councelling background. She promotes better wellbeing by encouraging a healthier lifestyle and diet.
In theory, maintaining or losing weight is a simple case of controlling your calorie intake. In reality this is easier said than done, but for dietary satisfaction it is important to start making calories count.
We need calories to give us energy. We also need a wide range of other nutrients to keep us happy and healthy. Essentially, if you eat rubbish expect to look and feel the same. The healthiest calories come from the most nutritionally dense foods which also happen to be some of the most filling and satisfying.
Here I share my fullness diet, which is designed to be filling and full of nutrition.
- The Fullness Diet
Full foods may not necessarily be low in calories, but a small amount can provide lots of nutrition. Other foods can be nutritionally poor, and it is these empty calories that are more likely to negatively influence things like blood sugar, food cravings, mood, health and satiety. For example nuts and seeds might have a similar calorie value as cakes or chips, but you only need a small handful to get a big nutritional helping. So for diet satisfaction, don't waste precious calories on empty food and instead fill your quota with nutritionally full foods.
Hunger and dissatisfaction can make diets notoriously difficult to follow. The Fullness Diet is designed to be simply filling and full of nutrition. It follows recommended nutritional guidelines (1,2) but also considers the satisfaction level of foods using a combination of respected and recognised diet principles.
Certain foods have been tested for their ability to satisfy and this is known as the satiety index (SI) (3,4). Further studies on satiety show that foods with a higher nutritional value are generally much more fulfilling and not necessarily associated with calorie value (5).
The Glycemic index works on the glycemic load principle (6,7). High GI foods are more likely to match foods with a lower SI so the most fulfilling foods are those with a low GI but high SI.
• Department of Health (2007) Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom, The stationary Office, Norwich
• Food Standards Agency (2001) Manual of Nutrition, The Stationary Office, Norwich,
• Holt, S.H., et al., “ A satiety index of common foods,” Eur J Clin Nutr 1995 Sep; 49(9): 675-690
• Holt, S.A., et al., “ The effects of equal-energy portions of different breads on blood glucose levels, feelings of fullness and subsequent food intake,” J Am Diet Assoc 2001; 101(7): 767-773
• Jenkins, DJ; TM Wolever, RH Taylor, H Barker, H Fielden, JM Baldwin, AC Bowling, HC Newman, AL Jenkins and DV Goff (1981). ”Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 34 (3): 362∼366. PMID 6259925. http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/34/3/362. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
• The GI Diet: The Easy, Healthy Way to Permanent Weight Loss - Rick Gallop, Virgin Books, 208 pages (January 6, 2005).
- Full Foods
It's not a great shock to discover the most nutritional and fulfilling foods are pure, basic, natural foods such as vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds and whole-grains. Foods most likely to contain empty calories are processed and refined foods such as fast food, ready meals, snacks, alcohol and fizzy drinks - so no big surprises there either! Fortunately nature keeps things simple so a wide range of nutritional benefits can be found in similar foods.
So forget confusing food fads, mention healthy eating and you will keep coming back to the same fulfilling simple, natural ingredients that have always been the basis of a healthy diet. With full foods, less is more with smaller portions making you feel more satisfied for longer.
- What to choose
For diet purposes there are two groups :
• Coloured - red, green, orange, purple, yellow, the brighter the better! Fill your plate with leafy greens, pepper, squash, the list is long and lovely.
• Starchy - a more subtle colour range including potatoes and pulses such as lentils and kidney beans.
A whole range of multi-coloured fruit will help you feel fuller.
Fish and seafood
Protein is found in a range of foods and studies show that protein rich meals have a higher SI value. Oily fish also has a better unsaturated fat ratio giving it a higher SI than meat.
Lean meat can be very nutritious but processed meats such as burgers, sausages and pâté have generally less nutritional value.
A fulfilling way to start the day.
Skimmed milk is a low fat fulfilling way to get essential minerals such as calcium.
Nuts and seeds
These are high in calories and fat but they are some of the most fulfilling foods, a tiny package crammed full of nutrients. Their calories are much more filling than many empty calorie snacks.
Wholegrains have a high SI value but the more refined the grain the emptier the calorie becomes.
Essential for good health and also has a filling effect. Our body needs pure water but a lot of our fluid intake takes the form of alcoholic or fizzy drinks which can also have emptier calories.
- A Balancing Act
In studies the foods with the lowest satisfaction and nutrition are those high in sugar, refined flour and saturated fat.
Firstly consider converting to healthier ingredients (see our food swap suggestions for some handy hints) but the most important aspect of any healthy eating plan is balance so if most of your diet is fulfilling, the odd empty calorie is ok.
Labeling food as good or bad generates a warped approach to our emotional attitude to what we eat. Good is saintly but boring while bad is sinful but irresistible. A balanced diet provides all your nutritional requirements in the right quantities so you shouldn't feel deprived and should enjoy your favourite foods.
- Plate Portions
An easy way to practically apply nutritional balance to your diet is to divide your plate into three sections.
• Section 1 - for coloured vegetables, that's all veg apart from potatoes and pulses
• Section 2 - for starchy vegetables, pulses, fruit and cereals
• Section 3 - for meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds
For weight loss, anything in section one should account for half the plate, section two and three a quarter each. For a healthy maintenance diet the sections can be divided into three equal sections.
You can also try laying out your weekly shop on the table or if cooking divide the ingredients up before you prepare it. It can initially be quite a shock to see how imbalanced your diet is but this may give you greater motivation to change.
- Top Fullness Foods
Top Fullness Food White fish Carrots Porridge Oranges Salmon Squash Pumpkin seeds Cabbage Potatoes, boiled Apples Almonds Wholemeal Raisins Chicken breast Baked beans Sirloin steak Wholegrain bread Eggs Bananas Potatoes, baked
- Least Fulfilling Foods
Least Fulfilling Food Ice cream Pizza Hamburgers Chips Crisps Chocolate bars Doughnut Croissants
- Food Swaps
Empty calorie foods Make it more fulfilling Greasy spoon breakfast fry up Grill up, poached egg, wholegrain toast Takeaway fish, chips and mushy peas Grilled salmon, homemade oven chips, peas Fast food milkshake Smoothie Burger and fries Homemade lean mince, onion and pepper burger, baked potato and salad Milk chocolate caramel bar Dark chocolate chips mixed with nuts, seeds and dried fruit Muffin Snack bar made from fruit, nuts and seeds
- Example of a weekly fullness menu
Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner Monday Wholegrain cereal, skimmed milk and berries Salmon and salad sandwich (with wholegrain bread) Lean beef casserole with roasted squash and peppers Tuesday Natural yogurt, fruit, topped with linseed Baked beans on granary toast Fish pie with steamed green vegetables Wednesday Boiled egg and wholemeal toast Prawn salad with brown rice Wholemeal pasta bake with tomato sauce and baked courgettes Thursday Banana, 2 rice cakes and organic nut butter Chicken breast with a green salad Prawn, nut and vegetable risotto Friday Porridge sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds 3 bean salad with baby tomatoes Grilled salmon and vegetable stir fry Saturday Grilled bacon and poached egg Spanish omelette with sweetcorn and sugar snap peas Slow roast lamb with mashed root vegetables and cabbage Sunday Smoked salmon and scrambled egg Vegetable soup and granary roll Roast chicken with steamed veg and boiled new potatoes Snacks Handful of mixed nuts, 8 brazil nuts, dried berries and seed mix, fruit - banana, handful of berries, apple or pear, 2 oat or rice cakes, 2 plums, 2 satsumas, banana and mango smoothie, yogurt with almonds and blueberries, dark chocolate chips with raisins and walnuts, mixed red berries in jelly, hot skimmed milk sprinkled with dark chocolate