Diet tip: Swap ingredients but leave portions intact

The secret to a successful diet is not eating less. It’s keeping the desire to binge at bay, says eating behaviour expert Ciaran Forde.

Diet tip: Swap ingredients but leave portions intact

Forget the age-old impression that being on a diet means eating less. You’re likely to binge when your willpower runs dry, said eating behaviour expert Ciaran Forde.

Instead, go for healthier ingredients when preparing meals and you will hardly feel the difference, he told The Straits Times.

Mr Forde, an Associate Professor from the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre, located within the National University of Singapore, has taken steps towards proving it.

He drew up an experiment involving 27 university students, giving them a bowl of ramen for lunch on three occasions.

The bowls were equal in portion and taste, even though some were loaded with seven times the calories.

High-calorie bowls had more sesame seeds, a dense broth, and thicker slices of narutomaki, a Japanese fishcake. Low-calorie ones used chicken breast and spiralised courgette, instead of the traditional ramen noodles.

Prof Forde found that there were no significant differences in eating patterns between participants. He said that those who were given low-energy bowls did not feel the need to compensate by having more food for dinner.

“What we have done is to maintain the sensory properties of food. Then we can support a calorie-reduced diet by concealing missing energy and sustaining satisfaction and liking for the food,” Prof Forde explained.

“People don’t seem to miss anything and why would they? The volume, appearance, smell and taste are the same, so they have no major incentive to eat extra food,” he added.

Experts have suggested that the size and even colour of plates influences the amount of food one consumes.

“Plates with a contrasting colour to the food makes the person more aware of the portion size, hence they are less likely to over-serve themselves,” said Gleneagles Hospital dietician Daphne Loh.

Visit The Straits Times for the full report.

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