A few days ago a radio personality was talking about New Year’s resolutions, dieting, etc. and one of his listeners suggested that weight can be controlled “by drinking water and eating nuts.” The question arose, “How does that help? Aren’t nuts fat and isn’t fat to be avoided?” And how does drinking water help keep weight off? I can share with you some of the information I used in my past Smoke Stoppers classes. Some of this information was updated with the South Beach Diet movement.
As we eat and fill the stomach, a message gets sent to the brain that “I’m starting to get satisfied, so decrease the appetite and slow down the eating.” By filling the stomach with a glass of water (no calories there) or a broth/ onion soup (few calories there) , we can decrease the amount of craving hunger that leads to rapid food intake and weight gain. You might even be able to take half the meal home with you to enjoy at a later time!
The second answer is that yes, nuts are mostly fats. But they’re the “good,” monounsaturated fats that help decrease cholesterol damage to the blood vessels throughout your body. Although nuts are better for you than either the saturated or polyunsaturated fats, they are still fats and the amount one consumes should thus be limited. The South Beach recommendation is to eat about 10 unshelled peanuts (therefore 20 nuts), or about 15 pistachio nuts or almonds, or 5 walnuts with a meal. Their slower breakdown slows down digestion and prolongs stomach-emptying. Fats, like proteins, create a sensation of fullness more efficiently than ingestion of refined carbohydrates does. This leads to a more gradual release of calories over the few hours following the meal. We thereby avoid the hunger between meals which often leads us to the fat food-filled, vending machine.
The South Beach Diet book also has a dessert recipe with low-fat ricotta cheese that, as a fat, should help slow down stomach (gastric) emptying. I urge anyone interested in trying this diet to read the book by Arthur Agatston, MD, and consult with their physician with any questions. In the event that more guidance/motivation is needed, one should call the New England Integrative Health Associates (NEIHA) in West Hartford, CT. They have a number of dedicated physicians and dieticians who promote weight management and good overall health through healthy eating!