Start Each Meal with Something Healthy – Your Waistline Will Thank You

Start Each Meal with Something Healthy – Your Waistline Will Thank You
Nature Made® Vitamins

Nature Made® Vitamins

Do you ever wonder why people say that you should never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach? Well, if you shop hungry, you could end up buying more of the treats you want at that moment rather than the foods you need to make your healthy meals and snacks. When your stomach starts to growl with hunger, your patience can wear thin. This could lead you to buy or eat the first food you see, healthy or not. Research has shown that people, when hungry, will eat more of whatever they see or whatever is served to them first.

The Research Buffet

A study from Cornell University presented a set of breakfast buffets to a group of 124 people. The first buffet started with healthy fruit, low-fat yogurt, and granola, while the second buffet started with unhealthy cheesy eggs, fried potatoes, and bacon. Both healthy and unhealthy foods were on each buffet. At the “healthy” buffet line, more than three quarters of diners chose fruit, while only about half chose fruit at the “unhealthy” buffet. Three fourths of the diners in the “unhealthy” buffet line chose cheesy eggs, compared to only one third of people in the “healthy” buffet line. Overall, the first three foods the diners saw on the buffet line took up most of their plates. This just shows that how you start your meal can affect what you eat during the rest of your meal.

Healthy Tips

To give each meal a healthy start and finish, use these tips:

  • Eat your veggies or salad first. If you eat a large amount of fiber-rich foods that are high in volume and low in calories, it makes you feel a bit full. This can help decrease your appetite for starchy foods that may be on your plate.
  • Eat your protein after your veggies. Protein is also a filling food that uses a good amount of energy to digest. Cut up your mealtime protein into small pieces and eat slowly so your body can fully enjoy each bite. This will not only help you to enjoy your food, but it helps digestion. It also gives your brain time to sense that your stomach is full, which will help you eat less.
  • Eat a cup of soup before your meal. Sipping on a thin chicken, beef, or veggie-based broth soup makes you feel a little bit full before you start your meal. This will help you better control how much you eat.
  • Drink a glass of water or unsweetened tea before each meal. This pre-meal, low calorie drink has a similar effect as a pre-meal soup Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to know that you are full, so take your time, enjoy your meal, and allow yourself time to feel full before you take a second helping. This will not only help you save calories and fat, but will also help you to fully enjoy your meal and prevent the stomach pains that may come if you eat too fast.

So when you start feeling hungry, keep your eyes peeled for veggies and fruit since the first foods that come your way are the ones you’re most likely to eat.


By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN
Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD

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