Consider veggies a free food in your weight loss plan

A person cuts asparagus on a cutting board that also has small white onions on it. A group of tomatoes sits nearby along with a glass of vegetable juice.

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to focus on all the things you are denying yourself.

Salty snacks and sweet treats can be had in moderation, but you can’t lose weight if you’re regularly consuming bottomless bags of chips, giant hot fudge sundaes and pasta slathered in butter-laden sauces.

Dwelling on that can leave you feeling pretty glum. Time to change your outlook: Focus on what you can have.

Whether you’re counting calories, simply avoiding unhealthy foods or following a research-based weight loss strategy like the BodyKey™ SmartLoss™ program, there are several foods that can be consumed in any amount without derailing your weight loss goals.

Tongs are turning delicious looking vegetable shish kebabs on a grill. Chicken breast is cooking nearby.

Free foods

In fact, the list ranges from A (asparagus) to Z (zucchini). Of course we’re talking about colorful vegetables, which are high in water and fiber content, not to mention vitamins and phytonutrients.

In the BodyKey™ SmartLoss™ program, which assigns people a maximum amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to consume each day, non-starchy vegetables are considered free foods. They don’t count against any of your daily totals.

“This is because they provide very few calories and lots of nutrition, including fiber to help control your hunger,” said Kerry Grann, a principal research scientist at Amway who works on BodyKey by Nutrilite™ products and programs.

The key is to train yourself to look to those free foods when you feel like you need something to nosh but don’t want to dip into any of your other categories. Kerry has some advice.

Think about your ‘Why?’

“First, remember why you want to lose weight – whether it is to look better, feel better, get healthier or have more energy,” she said. “Your reason for losing weight belongs to you, so remember it when you need a little extra motivation.”

Hands hold a large bowl of colorful salad filled with various vegetables on a counter. Other vegetables are visible around the bowl, including radishes, leafy lettuce and red cabbage.

Follow your weight loss plan

A good weight loss plan based on scientific research includes the right amount of food needed to provide you with necessary nutrition while getting you to your goal weight and keeping you there. Making vegetables part of that plan is key.

“Put veggies on half your plate at meals,” Kerry said. “Or, if you are cooking, add them to things like pasta, soup, casseroles or even eggs. This way you can take a similar serving size, but it will have fewer calories and be more filling.”

There are several easy swaps to make to increase your vegetable intake while reducing other types of foods you eat. Use cauliflower rice instead of white rice, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles instead of pasta, lettuce wraps instead of breads, buns or tortillas, to name a few.

Keep vegetables at the ready

“Keep a batch of clean, cut raw vegetables in your fridge or lunchbox so they are readily available when hunger or cravings strike,” she said.

Meal prepping is a great strategy here. Take one day or afternoon a week to plan and prepare snacks and meals for the rest of the week. This removes any excuse for not having a healthy option when the hunger pangs hit.

A bowl of hummus sits on a place of fresh carrots, celery and radishes.

Dress your veggies

If you don’t like vegetables plain, Kerry suggests dipping in hummus or a low fat dressing. “Just remember that your dip is not a free food!”

If you don’t like vegetables plain, Kerry suggests dipping in hummus or a low fat dressing. “Just remember that your dip is not a free food!”

There are, however, many free foods under the BodyKey™ SmartLoss™ program that make it easy to add some free flavor to your veggies: herbs and spices, vinegars, pico de gallo, salsa and soy sauce, for starters.

Distractions can help

If the crunch of celery or radishes just can’t take the place of a potato chip and all you can think about is heading to the vending machine or cupboard, shake things up.

“Distract yourself,” Kerry said. “Call a friend, go for a walk, or start doing any activity that takes your mind off of food.”

Sometimes that means a major change in your daily habits: No more sitting down with your favorite snack to binge the latest TV shows. But once that habit is broken, so is the craving that came with it.

A silver tray holds pre-portioned servings of  BodyKey Slim Popcorn, BodyKey Whole Grain Tortilla Chips or BodyKey Zesty Protein Snacks.

Still a no-go? Consider swapping out your chips for more nutritious, pre-portioned options that are less likely to derail your weight loss efforts, like BodyKey™ Slim Popcorn, BodyKey™ Whole Grain Tortilla Chips or BodyKey™ Zesty Protein Snacks.

What is the BodyKey SmartLoss?

Want to learn more about the BodyKey™ SmartLoss™ program? Visit the BodyKey™ page at Amway.com. The program uses a comprehensive assessment based on science to determine the best approach for you.

And it’s all delivered through a free smartphone app (find it on iTunes® or Google Play®), making it convenient to stay connected to the program, check and track progress and get personal guidance from your own digital coach on food and behavior choices.

No purchase is necessary to start the program.

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