healthy carbs

Carbs and the holidays seem to go hand in hand, but, there are healthy carbs in foods that are delicious, nutritious and super-filling that are great at holiday time because they are satisfying and waistline-friendly.  What makes these foods so diet-friendly is fiber – found in a wide variety of foods, from delicate fruits such as raspberries to heartier fare like whole grains and vegetables like spinach and artichokes.

I call fiber the “miracle carb” because of its characteristics that make it incredibly effective for weight loss and healthy weight management. Indeed, for the past 15 years high fiber nutrition has been the cornerstone of my private practice helping clients shed pounds without hunger or deprivation.  Fiber is a winner for several reasons:

Zero Calories.

Fiber is the indigestible part of a carbohydrate, found in plants. Fiber has zero calories, so foods that are high in fiber are naturally low in calories. Shifting to a fiber-rich diet is the simplest way to reduce your calorie intake without eating less.

Healthy carbs are filling.

There are two kinds of fiber. Soluble fiber, found in foods such as oatmeal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, nuts, beans, blueberries, cucumbers, and carrots, swells in the stomach, helping you feel full while eating less. Insoluble fiber, often referred to as roughage, also fills you up while promoting healthy digestion. Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, and root vegetable skins.  It’s easy to incorporate fiber-rich foods into you daily routine and at holiday time, too. Foods high in fiber also take longer to digest, which helps you feel fuller longer, so are satisfied eating less.

Healthy carbs makes calories and fat disappear.

Yes, you read it right! Studies show that women who doubled their fiber intake from 12 to 24 grams per day cut their calorie absorption by 90 calories daily. This translates to a 9.4-pound weight loss in a year! Fiber acts like a sponge is your digestive tract, absorbing molecules like carbs, fats, and sugars—along with their calories—and preventing them from settling on your hips.

Make yours a fiber-full (healthy carb) holiday and avoid unnecessary weight gain. Here’s how:

Eat healthy carbs at breakfast.

You won’t be tempted to double up on treats around the office if you start your day with a high fiber high protein breakfast. Try a high fiber breakfast cereal with Greek yogurt instead of milk or scrambled egg whites mixed with your favorite veggies and served on top of a high fiber English muffin. Fruit is always a great high fiber addition to the breakfast table. One cup of raspberries has 8 grams of filling fiber!

Start every meal with some crunch.

Sit down to a holiday lunch or dinner and it’s easy to overeat.  You can avoid this simply by skipping fattening appetizers, opting for something tasty, crunchy and high in fiber like crudité or leafy salad.

Savor some soup.

A bowl of soup is a great way to control hunger. Go with clear, broth based soups rather than fattening cream soups and bisques. Choose a healthy carb soup that’s loaded with high fiber ingredients like veggies or beans that are sure to fill you up. Another bonus: it takes time to sip a bowl of steaming hot soup, so you fill up slowly and won’t be tempted to dig into other foods on the table.

Snack Well.

It’s true. The well-chosen snack is a treat that can also help you avoid weight gain at holiday time. Your best choice: eat something high in fiber such as whole grain crackers or fruit paired with lean protein such as low fat cheese. Fiber and protein are two nutrients that digest slowly, which keeps you full longer and also keeps up your energy.  More healthy carb and protein ideas: make a deli roll up with turkey, spicy mustard, tomato slices, and high fiber tortilla or make a healthy dip using Greek yogurt as a substitute for mayonnaise and dip veggies for a tasty treat!

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For great tips, recipes and a four stage fiber-rich eating plan for weight loss and optimal health, check out my new book, The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and author of the Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber as well as the bestselling F-Factor Diet. In partnership with the Hain Celestial Group, Tanya has a national line of high-fiber foods marketed under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.